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Toyota's Compact Crossover: All-New 2018 C-HR

By Arv Voss, January 20th, 2018

What's in a name? In the case of the 2018 Toyota C-HR, the name "C-HR" stands for "Coupe-High Rider."

A coupe is a closed two-door vehicle, but the C-HR has four doors -- so coupe is a conveyance of the cleverly hidden rear door handles that are positioned inset and up high at the trailing edge of the door in body color. The term high "high-rider" is generally applied to vehicles with an exaggerated ground clearance and ride height as with most off-road vehicles. The C-HR has an average ride height and is roughly 2 inches taller than the Yaris.

In design terms, the C-HR borders on funky, sort of in the same genre as Nissan's Juke and Cube, and the Honda HR-V. The new Toyota is bigger than both the Juke and HR-V. Some shoppers will think that it's "cute," others will find it especially alluring, while others will just take a pass. But most of all, the C-HR is intended to be fun, adventurous, and futuristic, and it is.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter, 16-valve four-cylinder engine with Valvematic and electronic direct ignition. Energy is transferred to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission with intelligence and shift mode. Neither a manual gearbox nor AWD is available. The engine makes 144 horsepower at 6,100 rpm, while generating 139 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm, leaving it a little shy on power to muscle around its 3,300-pound mass in either of its trim levels: XLE and XLE Premium.

My test Toyota C-HR was in XLE trim and came with the bright Iceberg Radiant Green metallic body and the R-code white roof. The base price was set at $22,500, but it came with removable cross bars, a universal tablet holder, TRD oil cap, carpeted floor and cargo mats, mudguards, an emergency assistance kit, rear bumper protector, and wheel locks; these stand-alone additions bumped the final tally to $24,969.

The Premium trim and R-Code paint treatment are essentially the only options. The Premium trim bumps up the price roughly $2,000, and adds keyless entry, push-button start, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The $500 R-Code adds a white-painted roof with a red, blue, or Iceberg Radiant Green metallic body, which is available only with the R-Code option.

The 2018 Toyota C-HR tester is a unique five-door hatchback that marches to its own drummer. It isn't likely to be mistaken for anything else on the road and for some, that will likely be a big plus. Chances are that observers will either love it or hate it.

It's not a "Hot Hatch" as it stands in terms of performance, but Toyota could make it so by adding turbocharging and a conventional automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Acceleration is adequate for most driving scenarios, but more power would certainly be appreciated for more passion and fun. There's a Sport mode buried somewhere in the screen program that's supposed to improve the throttle mapping, but a more accessible push button would be better.

The front seats are comfortable, as is the ride quality. The steering is responsive, but there seems to be a numb or flat spot in the middle -- nothing serious to be concerned about, it only requires familiarization.

The new C-HR has a certain charisma that I found to be a positive attribute. Is it a good value? Yes. And it's a fun, funky subcompact ride that will appeal to many shoppers.

Specifications

Base price $22,500 (as tested: $24,969)
Curb weight 3,300 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/EFI
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 144 at 6100 rpm
Overall length 171.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 139 at 3900 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact CUV
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