Last year we participated in the national launch of the 2018 Toyota C-HR at Austin and found it to be inviting and competitively priced relative to the extensive offerings already available in the segment.

We recently spent a week driving a 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE in the bold Radiant Green with Iceberg (white) roof.  Putting a lot more time behind the wheel this time, we believe it is a very viable entry-level competitor in the compact CUV segment for multiple reasons.

But first, we need to address a couple of questions that continue to be asked.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

Most frequently we hear what does ‘C-HR’ stand for?  Answer: ‘Coupe High-Rider’.

Which then begs another question or two:

  • If it is a crossover with the typical four doors – why call it a coupe? Toyota is not clear on that.  We think the answer is the profile of the C-HR, with its coupe-like roofline and semi-concealed rear doors handles that give it a coupe-like appearance.
  • As for High-Rider – given the C-HR ground clearance of just 5.9-inches, we are not sure where that moniker, suggesting high ground clearance with easy step in, comes from either.  We think it is due to the sculpted contrasting color side cladding and the standard vortex styled 18-inch alloy wheels that give it an appearance of riding higher than it is.
2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

People also ask if an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) option is available – typically found on competitors to improve handling performance.  Toyota may consider adding AWD in the future, but as we noted in our first drive test and again this time, the C-HR may not need it.

With its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular uni-body C-Platform construction coupled with a newly developed suspension that includes SACHS dampers front and rear – plus the 18-inch wheels, it did a great job keeping C-HR planted on the road at all times.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE
Ride Drive Impressions

Our weeklong drives included Austin city, local highway and two-lane Hill Country roads including a couple of hill climbs laced with tight turns to again test the performance of the C-HR.

The 2.0L powertrain of the C-HR Powertrain is not potent, but we find it is adequate to the task for this 3,300-pound crossover.  The 4-cylinder produces 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. mated nicely to a Continuously Variable Transmission with Intelligence and Shift Mode (CVTi-S).

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

For added performance there are three driver- selectable Shift Modes available: ECO, NORMAL and SPORT.  ECO did not impress us.  NORMAL satisfactorily handled most situations around town and on the highway.  SPORT gave us more pop and tighter handling running the twists and turns of the Hill Country roads.

For a bit more performance, the CVT also allows manual shifting of the transmission by moving the lever to “M” and the driver managing the seven shift points for optimum response.   We found SPORT to be our choice overall with the “M” option further improving the hill drive experience.

Fuel economy ratings are not exceptional at 27/31 mpg city/highway and 29 mpg combined.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

The interior of the C-HR is very spacious and comfortable with well-engineered comfortable seats and plenty of leg (43.5-inches) and headroom (38.3-inches) up front.   The instrument panel is clean and simple in design and functional with the center stack, 7-inch display and related controls angled to the driver and easily in reach.

Rear seating is a bit tighter for the legs at 31.7-inches with headroom about the same as the front. Interestingly, the rear shoulder room is greater than the front. Still, though rated for three passengers in the rear, we think two is more like it – at least for adults.  The rear hatch opening is wide and the rear seats fold flat to provide cargo space up to 36.4 cu.ft.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE
2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

We found the ride and handling to be good along all road types – noticeably enhanced by the TNGA design with the new suspension system.  Steering was responsive and braking was firmly appropriate for the vehicle.

Rear visibility was a small challenge with the rake of the roofline and design of the rear hatch reducing window space.  Adjusting seat height and steady use of the side mirrors compensates for most of that shortfall in visibility.

Given the C-HR was developed originally for the basic Scion brand as a concept in 2015 (discontinued before the C-HR went into production), it is still equipped with a nice range of features and amenities that are generally equal to the competition

We should note that C-HR does not have some features found in some other competitors like AppleCarplay, AndroidAuto and Navigation.

2018 Toyota C-HR

However, when factoring in things like the Toyota Safety Sense, Star Safety System, Hill-Start Assist Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Brake Hold, Electric Parking Brake, high contrast 7-inch touchscreen, dual climate control and more – as standard – it is a good entry point vehicle for the brand.

Available in all markets since June 2017, C-HR sold a respectable 25,755 units in 2017 and began 2018 with January sales of near 4,000.  On that basis, C-HR should sell around 45,000 units in 2018 – not bad for a concept CUV resurrected from a cancelled brand.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

The 2018 Toyota C-HR comes in two models, the XLE MSRP $22,500 and the XLE Premium MRSP $24,350.   Other than the R-Code option we talk about below, there are no packages or upgrades available for the C-HR.  The usual assortment of minor accessories is available.

Our drive test C-HR, with the R-Code color roof and delivery – priced at $23,995.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE
2018 C-HR XLE Premium

Having driven both trim levels, we recommend spending another $1,850 and get the XLE Premium. Additional features include:

  • Integrated Halogen Fog Lights
  • Hatchback and door handles with touch-sensor lock/unlock
  • Outside mirrors with auto-fold and integrated puddle lights
  • Sports Fabric-trimmed heated power adjustable front bucket seats
  • Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Smart Key Remote Illuminated Entry with Push Button Start
2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

Some Hits

  • Drive Mode selection via the Multi-Information Display (MID) instead of a button or knob.
  • Audio Lockout feature that limits touch-screen use while driving.
  • Dual Zone Climate control standard which is not often found at these price points at all.
  • Exceptional bright backup camera display built into rearview mirror.
  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) standard as one package including Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

Some Misses

  • The boldly sculpted coupe-style design makes access and egress tight. Marginally so up front, but with the severe rake of the roofline, seriously tight for the rear.
  • Too much Piano Black trim ornamentation around touch screen and elsewhere. We suggest carbon-fiber accents instead.
  • No ApplePlay, AndroidAuto or Navigation might be a put-off for some.
2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

Our Miss

We had told you in an earlier review that the R-Code Version option – which adds a White roof and outside mirrors to three exterior color sets – should be scrapped.  We got that wrong.  Turns out folks love it.  We were approached every day on this last drive by people wanting to know more about the C-HR.

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

Solid color or two-color, go to the Toyota C-HR consumer information site and build one for yourself: