• Driving the 2018 Toyota C-HR – A little mirth in a mirth-less world


    2018 toyota chr
    2018 Toyota C-HR

    Would you believe me if I told you that the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s Deputy Chief Engineer, Hiro Koba  took it to the Nurburgring to tune its handling? It’s true. What if I told you that you can buy one of these tall hatchbacks for an MSRP of $22,500? That’s true too. There is plenty to like about this little runabout, as long as you don’t get hung up on the fact that, overseas, its available with lots of goodies we don’t get.

    According to Toyota: “The C-HR’s engine, a punchy 2.0-liter four-cylinder dual-overhead cam producing 144 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 139 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm, sends all power to the front wheels via the Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence and Shift mode (CVTi-S)

    EPA-estimates are 27 city/31 highway/29 combined miles-per-gallon for both trim levels.

    It comes with:

    • Standard Pre-Collision System with Active Braking
    • Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSSP)  with Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
    • 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/50R-18 all-season tires
    • Dual-zone climate control
    • Bucket seating with 60/40 split folding rear seats
    • 7-inch audio display

    The 2018 Toyota C-HR is available in two grades, XLE and XLE Premium.

    According to Toyota: “(The) XLE Premium adds Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; heated front
    seats; eight-way adjustable with Push Button Start.”

    We covered some additional technical components (here).

    Driving: The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a bit of a dancer. It actually likes to scoot around corners and it thrives on uneven road surfaces. With excellent wheel travel spacing and a double wishbone rear suspension, the 2018 Toyota C-HR felt a bit like a rally car. It’s body dips only on the hardest of road obstacles; when it does, it squats a bit and immediately regains its footing, once again, like a rally car.

    Despite its height, its body-roll is minimal and its adhesion is excellent. It’s happy to squirt our of corners, and the breaks are beefy enough not to fade after spirited driving. While the tires do moan under stress, the platform feels well sorted, as if it could handle a lot more power… and that’s the rub.

    You see, 144 hp isn’t enough. Front-wheel drive isn’t enough and a CVT isn’t enough. This car can handle so much more and, compared to its competition in North America, it truly should. It also needs things like up-to-date infotainment system, a sun-roof option and a ski/surf/kayak roof rack in the option’s list.

    Here are some additional numbers:

    • Width (70.7 in.),
    • Height (61.6 in),
    • Length (171.2 in.)
    • Wheelbase (103.9 in.)
    • The 2018 Toyota C-HR produces 0.34 coefficient of drag

    Here’s Toyota’s take on its handling.

    “Years were spent developing on-road nimbleness and ride quality on some of the world’s most curvaceous and pitted roads, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, an iconic racing circuit set in Germany’s Eifel mountains.”

    While the Nürburgring is an exceptional place to tune a sports car, it remains to be seen if it helps develop the character of a hatchback runabout. This is not a sports car, it’s a cheeky little commuter that has character, good cornering characteristics and a humble personality. I don’t think mentioning the Nürburgring changes what it truly is. 

    Suspension tuning is the real story with the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s abilities. Up front – MacPherson strut front suspension with SACHS dampers has angled strut bearings and a large diameter stabilizer bar . The rear suspension is an double-wishbone suspension utilizes a 26-mm stabilizer bar and SACHS dampers with urethane upper supports.

    It all works to make this vehicle truly enjoyable in the corners.

    The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a pleasing car to drive and, with its great packaging, it’s pretty utilitarian too. I came to the conclusion that, while it looks like a competitor to vehicles like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX3 and Jeep Renegade, its more of a competitor to vehicles like the Kia Soul, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note. It would make a great alternative to a simple Toyota Yaris too.

    I wonder how it will perform in snow country?

    Check out the video!

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

    23 thoughts on “Driving the 2018 Toyota C-HR – A little mirth in a mirth-less world

    1. This car wasn’t designed for the US in the first place, most of it’s sales will come from Europe with smaller HP motors and a very popular hybrid following there due to more stringent climate laws. In the US, they said we’d like it for our Scion brand with more HP, and evidentally the 2.0L CVT combo fit under the hood. Well, Scion died and all the production and marketing was cemented in place already, except for the badge. This means, give it a year or two, and if popular, we will likely see it expand through the life cycle adding AWD and other features.

      1. European reviewers are complaining about the lack of a more robust engine as well. I’m also not real high on the windows for the passenger compartment and the very limited leg room in the back compartment.

    2. “will fit 768 cans of red bull…” He said it with a straight face. If I was in the market for a utilitarian small hatch I would go for a Honda Fit over this and pocket the change.

    3. I know they’ll sell, but I think Toyota wpuld have been better off simply adding AWD variants to the corrolla, camry, and/or avalon

        1. Yup 20% cheaper to buy. Not to mention I just watched MotoMan trying to get into the back seat. It’s a distinct possibility that neither Roman or Nathan can get in the back seat of the C-HR.

        2. Yup the iM is 20% cheaper to buy. Not to mention I just watched MotoMan trying to get into the back seat of the C-HR. It’s a distinct possibility that neither Roman or Nathan can get in the back seat of the C-HR.

    4. Kevin that’s not it all first off people who buy Porsches won’t be caught dead in a Toyota next they’re trying to apeal to the younger crowd this will not work, Pontiac tried it with the Aztec Nissan tried it with the juke what they all have in common is low cars sale except they do ok in the rental market because your forced to get these pos’s this car is neither good looking or well equipped the juke atleast offers a turbo and awd this is just awful except for those people who buy these like they bought the cube because they said it was part of their personality lol

    5. This is a tough one.
      The car enthusiast in me can’t help but wonder why in the world they’re not offering AWD.
      The realist in me understands – like previously commented above – that Toyota will continue to sell more vehicles than anyone else, regardless of these seemingly obvious shortcomings, so if its saving them money then yeah, why both with AWD.

      Nathan hit the nail on the head though.
      “You see, 144 hp isn’t enough. Front-wheel drive isn’t enough and a CVT isn’t enough.”

      1. I am a Toyota guy and was really excited about this car. Too “Nissan Jukie” for me.

        Really like the HR-V.

        People need to realize these CUVs, except for Turbo, will never have the luxury of a Porsche type engine. But the MPG is always good. If folks want more power, pick a CUV with Turbo capability.

        Think the reason for no AWD is pricing. With AWD, this car would be above the price range for CUVs.

      2. The only reason I can surmise as to why the CHR will be introduced without AWD is that they are afraid to cannibalize sales from Toyota 4-Runner. AWD is a must for any part of the country that has snow. Furthermore, the small engine is simply Toyota’s way of going with something until a more robust engine is available.

        I don’t believe the vehicle will sell well without AWD and a more robust engine. It would also be nice if the vehicle came in a larger version – not too much larger but more cargo volume is important even in a crossover.

    6. Lol this is a Vehicular hermaphrodite .ugly and a stupid cvt better engine I’ll give them that but really it’s just a more exceptable juke lol way to aim low Toyota .

    7. You’re probably right. Same story as the HRV – somebody for whom the Fit is too small, and the CRV is too big. I guess Nathan pegged it – it’s a gap filler.

    8. I suppose it could be for fiercely loyal Toyota buyers. But it seems to me that Scott has (negatively) described Toyota’s decade old philosophy. Make a reliable vehicle that is #2 in every measurable category and loyal buyers will see it as equal to the sum of its parts.

    9. The C-HR really leaves me puzzled. I can’t figure out who Toyota is aiming it at. It’s underpowered, overpriced, and not particularly utilitarian. It seems to combine all the worst attributes of the competition into one package, while providing no particular strength. I mean, if you want 61 cu ft storage in a 163 inch long car that costs $14,000, you buy a Soul. If you want handling and interior/exterior looks, you buy a CX-3. If you want cool youth factor of a sort, you buy the Juke. If you want off road cred, you obviously buy the Renegade. If you want to blend into the masses and not be noticed and not go fast, you buy an HRV. But I can’t figure out why you’d pass up any of those to buy a C-HR, other than you literally bumped into it on the Toyota lot.

      1. Scott, I have been trying myself to see where this vehicle fits. I think TFLcar is right. It is a good Yaris replacement for someone that wants a higher ride and something a bit more sophisticated with Toyota reliability and safety, minimal maintenance costs and decent fuel economy. In that sense Toyota is charging quite a bit more for something like a Yaris in an updated crossover package. I wanted it to have AWD myself, but maybe that’s not that important for this vehicle.

      2. Agreed. I guess its just like their approach to the Tundra and other ‘stagnant’ or ‘bland’ vehicles…when you’re the best selling auto maker in the world, if you build it, they will come (and buy it).

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