Test Drive Notes Library
- Looks. This is a car for a 28 year old who’s having a mid-life crisis. Tired of the staid look of your Corolla, but don’t want to give up Toyota’s familiarity and reliability? Here’s a compact car with an exciting exterior design, but is otherwise a reliable, economical Toyota. The looks are definitely not boring. It’s got exaggerated, aggressive lines, weird rear door handles, and the largest C-Pillar in the history of western civilization (larger even than those on Caesar’s chariot). It looks like the kind of one-off, impractical concept cars that automakers bring to auto shows to get oohs and ahhs, but never actually produce. Toyota produced this one.
- Road manners. It drives like a very good compact car. The driving dynamics don’t quite live up to the futuristic sports car looks, but they do the job very well. The ride is firm but comfortable (for the car’s size), handling is totally adequate if not sporty, and cornering is pretty flat. And while you do get a bit of Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) drone when you stomp the pedal to enter a highway, and it takes some time to get to highway speed, day-to-day acceleration around town is perfectly acceptable. It’s got that easy-to-maneuver, easy-to-live-with feel that speaks to the Toyota underneath.
- (A little) more room than you think. It’s a small, four-door car, but it’s not tiny. It’s got a real backseat with room for a couple of adults. The downside is that, in the back, you sit very low. So it’s like being driven around in your bathtub. Front seat room is totally adequate, with good headroom. And there’s cargo room behind the rear seats, accessible by a large opening hatch. The impression you get is, hmm, it’s not as small as I thought it would be.
- Front visibility. Visibility out the front and to the front sides is actually pretty decent, thanks to a large windshield and thin A-pillars. Out the back? Fuggetaboudit. Luckily a rear view camera comes standard.
- Well loaded for $26,000. All C-HR’s now come with the Toyota’s Safety Sense - P package, which includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. That’s impressive. Please stop to applaud Toyota for this. And the XLE Premium package adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Unfortunately, you can only get those by buying the XLE Premium trim. But still, for $26K, you’ve checked all the safety boxes. The XLE Premium version also came with dual zone climate control, seat heaters, adjustable lumbar control for the driver, a fooled-me stitched-looking dashboard, independent suspension, an automatic parking brake, brake hold for stoplights, automatic high-beams, and a modern touch screen system with the requisite connectivity. Not bad.
- Economy car mileage. EPA rates the C-HR at 29 mpg overall (27 city, 31 highway). We did more city than highway driving and got 27.5.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Not as sporty as it looks. There’s more fun in the sheet metal than there is behind the wheel. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you know what you’re getting. You’re getting a very interesting looking car that drives like a sporty-ish economy car.
- No all wheel drive. It looks like a small crossover, which typically have all wheel drive. This is a front drive car only.
- Wind noise at highway speed. At 65 miles an hour, you do hear a fair amount of wind. Consider that if you do primarily highway driving.
- Small backup camera image. The image from the backup camera appears in your rear view mirror. It’s projected on the left one-fourth of the mirror. The advantage is that backing up doesn’t interrupt whatever you’re doing on the main touch screen. Unfortunately, that makes the image very small. We drove a Chevy Traverse that projected the rear view image across the entire rear view mirror, and that was great. But using only a quarter of the mirror made it hard to see details (was that my son’s toy fire truck I just ran over, or the neighbor’s ferret?). Think about it. Compared to the 7-inch diagonal touchscreen where the typical backup image appears, this is about 2.5 inches diagonally. It works, but it’s less than ideal.
- Rear door latches. Toyota built the rear door handles into the tops of the rear doors. It’s a cool styling trick and helps make the C-HR looks like a raised up two door coupe. And it’s fine for adults, once they stand there for a second and scratch their heads and then ask you “OK, how do I open this thing?" But if you have little kids, they might have trouble reaching the rear door handles. That can be a plus or a minus depending on how you feel about having your kids in the car.
Get the Car Talk Newsletter