A new Toyota is set to arrive in the U.S. this spring, and it’s time to get excited. The Toyota C-HR (coupe-high rider) concept debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2014, and now the subcompact SUV crossover is poised to deliver. Toyota hopes the C-HR will appeal to millennials who are looking for something snazzier, smaller, and more economical than the classic RAV-4, but with the sweet standard safety features and the fresh exterior design, the C-HR has a lot to offer those looking for a unique take a crossover SUV-hatchback; although, with its limited trim types and options, there is plenty of room for the C-HR to grow into itself.
This car comes with a theme: diamond. A diamond pattern is found throughout the cabin and even some of the control panel buttons are diamond shaped, which gives the C-HR a coherent design without being overly flashy or obnoxious.
The C-HR offers more interior space than its closest rival, the Nissan Juke, and there are copious amounts of headroom, although legroom is more limited. Backseat passengers will enjoy having elbow room, although the position of the windows may make it difficult to enjoy the view. In fact, some reviewers have likened sitting in the backseat of the C-HR to sitting in a cave due to the awkward window placement. Cargo space is decent for the crossover class at 19 cubic feet. When the 60/40 split rear seats are collapsed, cargo room extends to 36.4 cubic feet.
The C-HR offers drivers their choice of two trims: the base model XLE with a starting price of $23,460, or the XLE Premium, starting at $25,310. The base XLE comes standard with six-way adjustability for the cloth-trimmed front bucket seats, a 4.2-inch multi-information display, leather-wrapped steering wheel dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth. A neat standard feature is the auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera, which gives you a full-color side mirror view of what your traditional backup camera sees behind you.
Upgrading to the XLE Premium gives the driver an eight-way adjustable seat, heated front seats, and remote entry and start. There are currently no other trim levels, so it’s safe to say trim choices are limited on the C-HR, and neither Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or satellite radio is available as yet.
With its unique shape and stance, the C-HR will definitely standout on the road. It’s a polarizing design that won’t be for everyone, but will certainly appeal to those who want to make an impression. Its shark fin antenna, cantilevered rear spoiler, and steep-sloped rear window lend the car some serious character and 18-inch sport alloy wheels transport the low body, high height C-HR.
It’s available in Black Sand Pearl, Blue Eclipse Metallic, Silver Knockout Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Ruby Flare Pearl, and Blizzard Pearl, or there is the option to upgrade to what Toyota calls the “R-Code paint treatment,” which gives the C-HR a white roof and white outside mirrors contrasting with either Blue Eclipse Metallic, Radiant Green Mica or Ruby Flare Pearl body paint. Although the only interior color option is black, customizing the C-HR via the R-Code allows buyers to impart their own personality on the vehicle and is a fun touch from Toyota.
Toyota took a risk when designing the C-HR and decided to place the rear door handles high up into the roofline. It’s a bold choice given that the handles are now out of reach for smaller passengers (read:kids), but it definitely adds a little bit of edge to the styling. It will be interesting to see if future generations of the C-HR keep the handle placement above head-height.
Built on the same platform as the current model Prius – the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, and originally meant to be part of the now defunct Scion line, the C-HR hybrid will be powered by a 2.0 L four-cylinder joined with a CVT, getting 144 horses and 139 pounds-feet of torque under the hood of this front-wheel only drive. It offers competitive fuel economy for its class, getting EPA estimated 27 mpg city, 31 highway. and 29 combined.
The C-HR has three driving modes: Normal, Sport ,and Eco, but the 3,300 pounds of C-HR prove to be a little too much for the engine even in Sport mode and the ride is not zippy.The C-HR does feature the newly developed MacPherson strut front suspension which Toyota says helps the “C-HR’s front end respond quickly and precisely, so you can take on those corners like a pro” and as Motor Trend confirms, “it really does handle tight turns quite nicely, with little body roll and excellent control.” So while this crossover may not be ready for racing, it is a comfortable ride that offers enough sporty handling to make it a fun drive.
It may have a somewhat polarizing exterior design and only two trims to choose from, but when it comes to safety technology, there is no argument that the Toyota has gone all the way in loading up the C-HR.
To begin with, the C-HR comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, equipping the car with an advanced safety technology package that includes:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
- Designed to anticipate any potential collision, whether with another vehicle or a pedestrian, the Pre-Collision System offers drivers an audio and visual alert and will also automatically activate and apply the brakes to avoid impact.
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
- If the C-HR begins to drift over any visible lane markings, the Lane Departure Alert will both sound and flash warnings. If the car continues to drift without any corrective action on the driver’s behalf, the Steering Assist function will activate to keep the car in its correct lane.
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
- Whether the C-HR is traveling at highway speeds or in light city traffic, the Standard Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control will use forward-sensing radar and intelligent camera technology to keep the car at a preset following distance to the car ahead of it. If the distance between the lead car and the C-HR decreases, the technology will slow the C-HR to a safe distance, bringing it to a complete stop if necessary.
- 18 Automatic High Beams
- With the ability to detect oncoming headlights and taillights, the Automatic High Beams give the C-HR driver seamless high and low beam nighttime visibility regardless of driving and lighting conditions.
As if that wasn’t enough, Toyota has also integrated its Star Safety System into every C-HR, which means the vehicle comes standard with Vehicle Stability Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Traction Control.
Ten standard airbags line both the XLE and the XLE Premium and both models come with an electric parking brake, child-protection rear door locks, and LATCH lower and tether anchors for safe car seat installation. The XLE Premium also boasts blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert technology. Although the C-HR has yet to be tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it has been given a five-star safety ratings by Euro NCAP and ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program), so it’s probably safe to assume safety ratings will be high Stateside as well. For a crossover looking to attract new consumers, the safety features should be a compelling draw across all demographics.