I recently was fortunate to spend a week with a Toyota C-HR press loaner.
The vehicle I tested, a 2019 C-HR LE — also known as the base model — goes for $22,534, with only some paint protection and weather floor liners listed as options on the model I tested. Powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, the C-HR puts 144 horsepower to its front wheels.
After my week with the car, I wanted to showcase some of the features that caught my eye.
In my opinion, the C-HR is among the best non-performance cars on the market in terms of styling. In fact, I happen to think that it’s the best-styled crossover vehicle. It has great body lines and distinctive features — and while I understand some people don’t appreciate the look of the C-HR, I personally love its stance and its styling. Ultimately, it’s a refreshing break from all the other crossovers out there with fairly similar appearances.
The Rear Doors
This one is definitely subjective. If you read my piece on why you should buy a Alfa Romeo 4C (and why I can’t own one), you will recall that I am, as far as I can find, the tallest automotive journalist. Door handles are just something I must bend and reach for. However, the C-HR’s rear doors are refreshingly different compared to many other crossover vehicles: they’re crafted in such a way that the door handles are at the peak top of the door frame. While I’m sure that 90 percent of consumers now have to reach up, I think it’s good to be different — and I personally liked reaching out like a normal person instead of bending down.
Lots of Equipment
Since the C-HR I drove was the base model, cloth and plastics come with the territory — but for a $20,000 vehicle, you get a lot in the cabin. Most notably you get a surprisingly large touchscreen: eight inches, to be exact. The screen allows for much of the comfort and settings you’ve come to expect from modern cars. It features its own app suite and Bluetooth for your phone — and it’s compatible with Apple CarPlay. The interior also features dual-zone climate control, which is an impressive feature at this price point.
The C-HR uses 17-in wheels, even in its base trim — and yet I still felt the ride was more comfortable than my wife’s 2015 Subaru Crosstrek in its winter tire configuration, which involves 15-in wheels with additional sidewall. Theoretically, the Subaru should be more comfortable, but it really isn’t — something that must come down to suspension, as railroad crossings that shook up the Crosstrek were fine in the C-HR. I don’t think there is any sort of trophy truck wizardry going on with the suspension — instead, it just seemed to feel better on the road as an overall package.
Admittedly, one downside of the C-HR compared to the Crosstrek is a lack of all-wheel drive — despite the C-HR’s "crossover" marketing, it’s only offered in front-wheel drive. It’s been rumored that AWD might be on the way, and that would be a welcome addition to the C-HR lineup.
Overall, I think the C-HR is a great little crossovery-hatchback thing, and it’s a refreshing drive compared to what I’m used to daily driving. I think the car is best reserved for those who want to dart around congested urban areas with rough roads, as it offers a practical, comfortable ride, and good equipment for the money. Let’s not forget, this thing also has style. Or, at least, I think so.
For more of his automotive exploits, you can follow Danny on Instagram: @DKorecki.