2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium new car reviews

The Toyota C-HR is new for the 2018 model year and, yes, its looks are a bit extreme. Even the headline on Toyota’s own media site acknowledges that fact: “2018 Toyota C-HR Shifts the CUV Paradigm With Stunning Style, Driving Dynamics and Versatility.”

So, what is the C-HR? The letters stand for Coupe High-Rider and, in basic terms, it’s the traditional crossover packed in some extreme sheet metal. Underneath it’s powered by a twin-cam, 2.0-liter engine backed by a CVT transmission. That’s the sole available driveline, and the C-HR is only available with front-wheel drive.

Two interesting notes about the suspension, though. While it features the ever-popular MacPherson struts up front, the C-HR has double-wishbones in the rear. That’s interesting note No. 1.

Interesting note No. 2 also comes from the Toyota release: “But, the C-HR doesn’t only look great–it’s got the sportiness to impress thanks to the efforts of Deputy Chief Engineer, Hiro Koba, who is a diehard racer with speed coursing through his veins. Koba-san and team made sure the C-HR exhilarates its driver anytime, anywhere, including around the famed Nürburgring circuit where vehicle development was chiefly executed.”

The C-HR comes in two flavors, XLE and XLE Premium. We sampled the Premium variant that adds things like sportier seats, blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert. Where the standard XLE retails for $22,500, the Premium carries an MSRP of $24,350.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

For all of you who said that cars and SUVs all look alike, here’s something different. Ours was done in Radiant Green Mica with the Iceberg (aka white) roof and mirrors. Intentional or not, it had a bit of a Mini vibe.

The big question–or at least one that was asked via Instagram: How’s the CVT? As far as CVTs go, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, most people probably won’t even notice that it’s a CVT.

The interior feels really good, especially for this class of vehicle. The touch surfaces–you know, the things that you actually come in contact with–all had a solid feel to them. It was classic, old-school Toyota. Good gauges and displays. The interior layout had just enough funkiness without getting too weird or confusing. Let’s call it personality, and I mean that in a good way. I actually dig the headliner details. Having the back-up camera in rear-view mirror is nice touch, especially at this price point.

Visibility is fine out front but not the best over the shoulders. The rear window is a little on the small side. Those high sides also make the back seat feel a little claustrophobic.

On the highway, the C-HR was quiet and comfortable. Power and acceleration are, again, fine for the class. Despite the promise of Nürburgring tuning, I don’t see this as your next autocross car or track toy. At the end of the day, it still sits tall in the saddle. For daily use, sure, it handles well enough.

Where does this one land in the automotive landscape? It drives like the common crossover yet has uncommon looks. (Also, it looks way more traditional in one of the available solid colors.)

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93EXCivic MegaDork
5/2/18 2:11 p.m.

"Stunning style" and "the C-HR doesn't only look great" I want whatever the people at Toyota took to make them think that.

Trackmouse UltraDork
5/2/18 2:44 p.m.

 Front wheel drive only in a market that demands all wheel drive every single time for this vehicle class. I mark this as a two-year only car from Toyota. The massive design flaw is the lack of an all-wheel-drive system, yet a price that demands all wheel drive. 

 Don’t believe me? Go ahead and look up every single CUV and tell me there isn’t one that doesn’t have all wheel drive as at least an option 

Jaynen UltraDork
5/2/18 3:31 p.m.

I am even surprised by the number of people who buy the X series BMWs or Mercedes 4 matics when I live in the south, people way overestimate the need for it and also its ability to make a difference without proper tires

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
5/3/18 7:32 a.m.

I'm guessing somebody pitched "We need to do something to capitalize on the success of the Nissan Juke" at a Toyota board meeting as a joke, and it fell so flat that the would-be comedian pretended to be serious.

eastsideTim UltraDork
5/3/18 9:05 a.m.
Jaynen said:

I am even surprised by the number of people who buy the X series BMWs or Mercedes 4 matics when I live in the south, people way overestimate the need for it and also its ability to make a difference without proper tires

Not the south here in Ohio, but maybe dealers there do the same thing.  I’m reasonably certain every low trim line 3 series on the lot at the local BMW dealer is all wheel drive.  No choice, unless you want to special order, which I’m betting few people do for a lease.

As for the C-HR, I think it’s butt ugly, but I am seeing a decent number of them on the streets here.  I personally have no issue with FWD in a crossover (actually looked for it when I was shopping for a Highlander/RX330 a few years back), but I’m not a good representation of the masses.

Robbie PowerDork
5/3/18 9:44 a.m.

I don't think it is awful actually, if it was fun I wouldn't turn it away.

That said, I can't wait till the common thing becomes "chopping" cuvs to get them lower and sleeker again. 

Our cuvs look like cars from the 40s.

penultimeta HalfDork
5/3/18 10:17 a.m.

Eh. Same trend with Honda styling wise. I don't get it, but I'm kinda over "hating" it. I'll just take my business elsewhere (Germany or Korea) to get the styling and driving experience I want. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/4/18 9:49 a.m.

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