2018 Toyota C-HR
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2018 Toyota C-HR

The origins of the Toyota C-HR may be murky, but it is decisively this year’s stand-out vehicle from the automaker’s otherwise predictable lineup. Critics seem divided on the vehicle itself but seem to be intrigued by Toyota’s stylistic choices. This subcompact SUV originated from the now-extinct Scion brand, which was designed with a more youthful audience in mind. Will this model be better at capturing younger drivers? Read on to learn more about the C-HR.

Though debated, the C-HR’s body is certainly a break from Toyota’s norm. A raked roofline, severe angles and sharp lines compose a body of radical styling. Toyota emphasized the C-HR’s protruding, boomerang taillights and aggressive wings. As C-HR stands for Coupe-High Rider, the Toyota’s C-HR will incorporate elements of both the modern coupe and SUV. The roofline and hidden rear handles nail the coupe aspects, but the SUV components aren’t as convincing. The SUV component is mainly aesthetic, depending on the vehicle’s high ride, 18-inch wheels, and rugged-looking fenders and body cladding.

Beneath the hood, the C-HR’s powertrain has 144-horsepower with a four-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels with a variable automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter engine allows for stable and reliable takeoffs and a smooth driving experience. The sport mode affords a higher engine rpm for acceleration, more responsive handling, and solidifies the wheel to grant it a weightier feel. When it comes to driving this machine, its road manner is generally pleasant. It handles and rides quite comfortably with an effective dampening system and a body that maintains composure around corners. Its gas mileage is 27 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined.

Despite being targeted at millennials, the cabin lacks a few technological indulgences. This is where we see those remnants of the long-departed Scion. Like a time-capsule, the control layout, cabin engineering, and interior materials are reminiscent of a Scion. A standard touchscreen sits in line with the center console. It measures 7 inches, likening itself to a tablet but is less advanced than one might expect in 2018. Users are limited to a USB port, auxiliary jack, and Bluetooth connectivity. Though these are sufficient for the target audience, the multimedia system lacks what some might deem standard. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, smartphone mirroring programs, satellite radio and navigation are noticeably absent. Head and leg space for the front seat are ample, but the back suffers slightly due to the sloping roof and the 19 cubic feet allotted to the trunk space.

The base model of the C-HR is a bit pricier than its competition but it comes standardized with many safety features, some that aren’t even offered in this class. Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, emergency auto-break, lane departure warning with steering assist, auto high-beams and adaptive cruise control all come standard in the C-HR. The XLE Premium adds heated front seats, power lumbar for the driver, puddle lamps, foglights, push-to-start, and a blind sport warning system. Oddly a backup camera is standard for the vehicle, but much like the rest of the car, displays itself in the review mirror in an antiquated way.