The upside of the Scion brand’s demise is that things are getting a little more exciting at corporate parent Toyota. This re-branded C-HR, or coupe high rider, gives Toyota a much-needed entry into the subcompact utility category, and one with looks that are quite out there. But, does C-HR also deliver meaningful utility, or is it all about funky style?
First things first, the 2018 Toyota C-HR does indeed give Toyota another entry into what is the fastest growing vehicle choice today, utility vehicles. It slides under the Rav4 in their car-based crossover lineup. First revealed in concept form at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the CH-R also indicates a bolder direction in overall Toyota design.
The production model clearly resembles that concept, but is far from an exact copy. The front end sets a very confident tone; while deep-cut body lines point towards the C-pillars, where there’s both a floating roof design and high-mounted door handles.
From there, an almost horizontal back glass leads to a hacked-off rear with its own aggressive lines. Wheelbase is less than an inch shorter than the RAV4, yet there’s over a foot difference in overall length. 18-inch alloys and 50-Series tires are standard.
There are plenty of aero treatments that the kid’s love these days, including diffuser, spoiler, wheel spats, and even “vortex generators”.
Those high-mounted door handles actually work great. But, do yourself a favor and skip the white roof option; unless you’re going for the taxicab look.
No all-wheel-drive for now, front-wheel-drive only. No factory turbo either, as those front wheels get power from a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 good for 144–horsepower and 139 lb-ft. of torque. Toyota is leaving it to the aftermarket to add more.
Unfortunately, it’s CVT only for tranny duties.
But not so fast; that CVT does a good job of delivering the moderate power smoothly, and CVT-induced engine noise is relatively minor here, as is noise in general.
It’s also has a very solid feeling for a small ute, riding on the Toyota Prius’ recently updated New Global Architecture chassis. Handling is quite good, as it remains very flat in corners, urging you to push it harder than you probably should; though there’s not enough power here for you to really get yourself into too much trouble.
Through the rolling Hill Country around Austin, Texas, we found steering to be very quick, with good feedback through the wheel, as well as through the brake pedal.
Things are very sporty in both look and feel inside, with a hip Scion-like touchscreen audio display, but no Satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto.
Likewise, gauges are more Scion than Toyota; with a 4.2-inch TFT multi-instrument display that gives lots of info including a G-Force monitor.
Front seat space is plentiful and are sufficiently comfortable. All controls are within easy reach. Rear seats are claustrophobic. Not a lot of space, and very little window to see out of; though there are belts for 3 back here.
Like many sub-compact crossovers, cargo space is just adequate; 19.0 cubic-ft. puts it slightly under the Honda HR-V, but much higher than the Mazda CX-3. Folding the seatbacks takes it to more acceptable 36.4 cubic-ft.
Now, as for what this Coupe High Rider crossover is not; well, despite its slick shape, it’s not a coupe, more of a 5-door hatchback. And it doesn’t ride overly high either, with just 5.9-inches of ground clearance. And it’s certainly not a traditional crossover without all-wheel-drive. So what’s left? A lot of target marketing and a respectable amount of fun.
No skimping on safety features however. Toyota’s unfortunately-named Safety Sense P, with Pre-Collision System and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, is standard, as are 10-airbags.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 27-City, 31-Highway, and 29-Combined. For a better than average Energy Impact Score of 11.4-barrels of yearly oil use with 5.0-tons of CO2 emitted.
As for the sticker prices? Base XLE trim starts at $23,460; XLE Premium, at $25,310. That puts it above the Mazda3, Honda HR-V, and Nissan Juke; however, both models are very well equipped, and without options to hike that price up further.
In today’s “multi-culti” world, where we try to combine the best attributes of all cultures; the 2018 Toyota C-HR tries to put crossover practicality into a conglomeration with youthful style and peppy performance; and for the most part succeeds very well.
But still, it’s a form over function piece that much like the Nissan Juke, will appeal mostly to city-dwelling urban adventurers who need an easy to park ride with more flexibility than the typical compact. But, even without all-wheel-drive, that may be enough to give the Scion faithful an easy entry into the “Mother Brand” and make this high ridin’ coupe a hit for Toyota.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 139 lb-ft.
EPA: 27 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.0 tons/yr