2018 Toyota C-HR XLE – Bottom Line Review

(Contributing Editor: George Straton)

When Toyota pulled the plug on it’s aspirationally youthful Scion North American sub-brand in 2017 it admitted a re-thinking of the product needed to compete for younger hearts and minds. Only the later term Scion models, such as a Toyobaru (86), a European hatchback Auris (Corolla iM) and a Mazda Demio (Yaris iA) would survive un re-badging. 

But also just then making the auto show rounds was brazenly imaginative, ready for production concept “mini cute ute” called C-HR. For Compact-High Rider. Or Coupe-High Rider. Possibly a portmanteau of Honda’s CR-V and HR-V?

With a simple badge swap, this temporarily badged Scion would not be still born. For it was foretold that the 2018 C-HR would become the Little Engine that Could bring younger buyers into the Toyota fold.

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WHAT: All-new 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE sub-compact sports activity vehicle, built off the G-AC  floorpan of the automaker’s new Toyota New Global Architecture  flexible platform.

Standard Power: 1987 cc, dual VVT-i DOHC 16V I-4 cylinder gasoline engine: 144 hp/ 139 lb-ft;

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Unlike anything Toyota or Scion has ever offered before on these shores; A collection of oblique concave panels reminiscent of Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House.  V-shaped hood floats over razor thin wrap-around front projector beam light housings;  No grille;  Dark cladding runs entire perimeter, also forming mud flaps;  Jutting chin lower air dam;C-HR

Muscular front fenders;  Large wheels arches filled by 18″ smoked wheels;  Rising beltline and cheat-line rise to meet [opt.] contrast color teardrop roof;  Flush door handles fitted at the top most joint with the C-pillar = Floating Roof;

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE: profile view featuring flush high-mount rear door handles, blending w/ C-pillars

Rear quarters, pierced by boomerang lighting, crease into cubic corners; De-rigeur roof spoiler = slatted;  Sloped tailgate culminates in a concave panel with subtle lip.

WHY: A sticking-its-tongue-out cute-ute with an available two-tone dye-job to match the alternative young crowd’s.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2017

WHERE: Toyota new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Sakarya, Turkey

WHERE TO: Anywhere with pavement; Eminently fittable in tight urban quarters; With only 0.5″ more clearance than a Prius, don’t even think about off-road adventures.

HOW ROADWORTHY: The youthfully wacky design belies a surprisingly couth character:

The power / drivetrain is copped from the 300 lbs. lighter Corolla iM sportback; Extra mass does no acceleration favors; Only using the cumbersome MFI screen to select Sport mode + Manumatic CVT shift lever toggling will permit quasi linear locomotion to 5500 rpm and thereby avoid humiliation by a Prius.

Camber on the front strut, rear dual wishbone chassis is set for some straight tracking on the wide, grippy 225-50VR/ 18 Dunlop Sport SP5000’s; Behold two suprises: Quick steering is accurate, while stiff springs paired with improved damping rebound control yield Camry-esque compliance; Pedal modulation on the biting 4-wheel disc brakes dislikes jabs.

HOW FAR: 33 combined miles per gallon; 475 miles highway range

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ C-HR wheelbase = 1.7″ > Honda HR-V, 2.8″ > Mazda CX-3-1 only 31.7″-inches Row 2 legroom = 7.6″< HR-V, 2.7″ < CX-3;   -1 500 lbs. > CX-3;

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE: Row 2 entry featuring high rising towards rear panel, but limited door pocket storage

HOW USEFUL: Low load floor w/ 60/40% split 2nd Row seat backs;  Flexible cargo shade; Acceptable front, modest rear door pocket storage; +1 Front seat bolstering; -1 Outward visibility from high cowl, obtrusive side pillars, short liftgate window;  1 Heavy liftgate action; -1 No liftgate grab ledge or release switch;  Tow Rating: Not Rated.

RB 2018_Toyota C-HR XLE: cargo loading and expandable capacity

-1 Cargo space (expanded)  = 40% < HR-V, 18 < CX-3;

HOW SAFE: 8 airbags; Rear camera; Full adaptive cruise control;  Lane departure warning, prevention; Collision avoidance emergency braking;  E-parking brake w/ auto hold; -1 Lane departure warning has difficulty sensing lane markings; -1 Rear camera display in rear-view mirror;

RB 2018_Toyota C-HR XLE: Rear camera integrated into rear view mirror, Dimpled head liner w/ only first row retracting grab pulls

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Sport bolstered front bucket seats; 4 power windows = full express;  Height adjustable front pax seat; Tilt & telescoping, cross-stitched leather wrapped steering wheel w/ spoke-integrated controls;  Dual zone automatic climate control; +1 Wind & road noise isolation; -1 Hard to reach / buckle front safety belts;-1 Annoying occupied safety belt disuse chime; -1 Non-distinctive steering wheel redundant controls; -1 Inconvenience of navigating MFI Trip menu to change drive modes; –1 Fuel door release and auto high beam switches obscured;

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE: center console storage, connectivity & power supply

Cool Gizmo(s): Rear door concealed exterior high-mount handles;See exterior “STYLING” (above);

Details Done Right: Piano black gloss instrument panel & steering wheel ; Exposed stitch padded layered dashboard canopy;  Metallic vent bezels; Partial simulated carbon fiber door panels; Blue-green night switch illumination;  Front and 2nd Row dome courtesy lights;

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Industrial grain hard dark plastics throughout, -1 Monolithic dark plastic covers much of rear door windows filtering out light; -1 Cheezy, fussy elastic loop hooks for cargo shade; -1 Headliner dimples;

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: Semi- dash-top 7.0″-inch capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen;  +1 Large icons;  Voice learning hands-free communications; 6-speaker, 160 W w/ streaming audio & HD radio; Mobile powered APPS = Siri-Eyes, Pandora, aHa radio, podcasts & Nearby

RB 2018_Toyota C-HR XLE: cockpit layout mixes large needle analogue gauges with driver canter center stack featuring 7.0″ LCD touch infotainment including wireless device powered Pandora music & “aHa” location apps

Subscription based: Sirius XM (90 day free trial);

USB x 1, 12V x 1; +1 Acceptable lower center stack mobile device shelf;

HOW MUCH: $24,381 = monospec 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE;

WHAT’S MISSING: All Wheel Drive; Greater locomotion; Modern infotainment (either Entune or Android Auto / Apple Car Play will suffice); Extra USB port; 2nd Row power supply; Row 2 ceiling grab handles.

ANY COMPETITION:  Ford Ecosport: +1 Conventional 6-speed automatic transaxle, AWD, Sync3 infotainment; Honda HR-V: +1  Rear seat space & cargo versatility, AWD, Infotainment; Mazda CX-3: +1  Conventional 6-speed automatic transaxle, AWD, Performance, Fuel economy, Soft touch surfaces, Infotainment ;

BOTTOM LINE: Filling the bizarro styling void left by the departure of the Nissan Juke.

Tomasz Paluch is the New Jersey based Technical Director for Roadblazing.com. An avid programmer and technical writer, he is currently enrolled in University. Electronics tinkering, chess, and European history are among Tomasz's passions. He is also a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and Phoenix Automotive Press Association. Tomasz' ride: an enthusiast's 6-speed manual Mazda3.

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