After seeing many examples of how Toyota keeps production models true to concepts, the CH-R is no different. The most noticeable is its sporty exterior, a collaboration of most key sport styling cues (coupe-like roof, bold design, floating roof, etc.). Stepping inside, sporty cues naturally follow complementing the exterior.
Created to compete against models such as the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca, the newcomer is one of the first Toyotas designed exclusively with European buyers in mind. The Japanese firm has gone bold, mixing coupe, concept car and off-roader design cues to head-turning effect
Walk up to the C-HR – which stands for Coupe High Rider – and you’ll be surprised by how big it is. The design is heavily based on the C-HR Concept that made its debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, and the daring mix of angles and high-riding SUV stance disguises the surprisingly bulky dimensions. At a glance, the car looks about the same size as a Nissan Juke, but it actually fills a similar footprint to a larger Qashqai. Like it or loathe it, the C-HR certainly attracts attention.
Climb aboard and it’s clear the designers’ efforts haven’t been limited to the exterior. A wraparound dash with distinctive blue insert and large tablet-style infotainment screen dominate the cabin, while repeated diamond patterns in the overhead courtesy lights and headlining add interest.
Yet the most impressive thing about the interior is the quality. Top-notch materials are used throughout, and there’s decent space. The thick C-pillars mean rear seat occupants feel hemmed in, but there’s surprising head and legroom. Up front, the high-set seats and large windscreen give a good view of the road.
Great Ride Quality
From one owner to another feedback on ride quality will vary, but so far publications are pleased with its performance. Being of the first to ride on Toyota's all new architecture, ride quality will be one topic you can expect to focused on in future reviews.
Look beneath the head-turning bodywork and you’ll find the C-HR uses the same Next Generation Architecture that debuted on the latest Prius. That’s a good thing, because it allows the Toyota to rival the best in class for ride and handling. Not only is the C-HR composed and grippy through a series of corners, it soaks up bumps that unsettle rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai.
The steering is naturally weighted and progressive, there’s strong grip, and body roll is well contained. Deep potholes can send a shudder through the cabin, but for the rest of the time the C-HR rides well.
The C-HR has close, progressive ride control, crisp handling responses, good lateral adhesion and well-balanced grip levels. It rides fluently and quietly, keeping constant close tabs on excessive vertical body movement. And it steers with a very sophisticated meeting of weight and directness that gives you an instinctive command over the car’s position on the road and its direction along it.
The relatively low centre of gravity and sophisticated rear suspension pay dynamic dividends here, because they allow the C-HR to come by its sense of handling response and precision easily – without needing to fall back on unyielding springing, oversized wheels, beefed-up anti-roll bars or extra-firm bushing.
And so what’s pleasing about the way the car conducts itself around town, arcing around a motorway slip road and on a country lane is that it controls its mass very cleverly, stays balanced at all times and manages not to let any movement adversely affect the authority of its steered axle or the consistency of its grip level.
Getting right into the meat & potatoes, yes, the CH-R will comfortably seat passengers around 6 feet. Not just seating but apparently getting in and out is a breeze, very surprising for a vehicle that competes in a compact segment. Just watch out for the pillars.
The interior quality suffices for a sub-$25K vehicle without feeling cut-rate or spartan. There are hard, embossed-plastic door panels, but they feel and look up to the task. While there appears to be no glovebox, the lower dash conceals a tiny latch that opens a big storage bin. The door openings both front and rear are deceptively large, and we found enough adjustment to the front seats and the tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel for a pair of six-foot-plus journalists to get comfortable, save for a little B-pillar intrusion on the wider of the two.
The back seat can be relatively spacious for such a tiny footprint (the 103.9-inch wheelbase is 4.3 inches longer than the Juke’s, while the width is up only 1.2 inches on the Nissan), depending on how the front seats are set. But when those seats were positioned where we were comfortable, foot and legroom in the rear were reduced to prison-restraint levels. Still, based largely on elbow- and knee room, our first impressions are that the C-HR’s front compartment is a tad more spacious and comfortable than those of the HR-V and the Juke.
Despite its lower-than-the-average-crossover hip point, the C-HR still has a driver’s seat that you slide directly on to rather than bending down to access it.
The A-pillars and roofline trace quite close to your head as you sit at the wheel, so this isn’t a car to recommend to a particularly tall driver.
Head room is even more limited in the back, but leg room is generous enough in both rows. For a smaller adult or teenager sitting in the back seats, the high and tapering window line will make it feel more claustrophobic than it really is.
We can perhaps afford to leave reservations about the C-HR’s practicality to one side, though, given that this car is aiming to appeal for its sense of style rather than outright space.
Passenger & Cargo Space
Even with its coupe-like roof, passengers ranging around the six-foot mark should still find it comfortable with some slight compromise. Loading/unloading cargo is equally as impressive with how big the tailgate is. A 60/40 split/fold rear seat comes standard.
The vast C-pillars and small rear windows mean that occupants in the back of the C-HR will feel quite claustrophobic. However, get the tape measure out and you’ll find that the Toyota is on par with the Nissan Qashqai for legroom, while the high set front seats means there’s plenty of space to tuck your feet under.
By placing the base of the rear bench low, Toyota has also created a surprising amount of headroom. And while the rear bench isn’t as wide as some rivals, there’s just enough room for adult passengers.
Open the C-HR’s large tailgate and you’ll discover a usefully shaped load bay that’s free of awkward intrusions. At 377-litres it’s a decent size according to the standards set by regular compact hatchback models, but it significantly trails the SEAT Ateca’s 485-litre load bay.
The C-HR also lacks some the of the clever storage features we’ve come to expect from crossover models. There’s a small amount of storage space underneath the boot floor, but that’s about it.
Still, a 60/40 split/fold rear seat is standard, which helps boost the Toyota’s versatility. The seats are folded by releasing handles on top of the seatbacks, rather than handy items in the boot itself. Toyota hasn’t issued figures for the C-HR’s maximum capacity with the rear bench lowered, but you do get a fairly flat load area.
It's A Bargain!
Much like most compacts Toyota sells, the CH-R is just as affordable. However, because this was originally destined for Scion odds are we're getting more than we would have had Scion not been in the picture. US Pricing is expected to release next month at the New York International Auto Show.
While the C-HR’s cabin features few flashy thrills, its design is a modern and clean one to be sure. Plenty of unique textured materials are strewn throughout, while relevant controls are easily within view — and reach — of the driver. It’s part of a driver-centric approach designers took with the C-HR aimed at limiting distractions behind the wheel.
There’s also plenty of standard content that’s been poured into the C-HR without breaking the bank. With only two trims available — XLE and XLE Premium — the subcompact crossover starts at just $22,500 ($24,690 in Canada), and comes with a great suite of standard safety features, including adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.
Also along for the ride is a dual-zone automatic climate control system and backup camera, and a standard seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that sits atop the dash. Smartphone interfacing systems Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t included just yet, but don’t be surprised if that’s part of the package shortly. The infotainment system also lacks satellite radio, though Bluetooth audio streaming is built in to make up for the lack of a CD player.
Stepping up to the XLE Premium trim brings the price up to $24,350 ($26,290 in Canada), and adds a few features, including blind spot monitoring and foglights, to round out the Scion-esque trim walk. Leather seats aren’t available, but the standard cloth ones offer plenty of comfort and support.