Test Drive column: 2020 Toyota C-HR
Entry price: $21,295
Price as tested: $28,435
This week, we’re driving a 2020 Toyota C-HR, a fairly new edition to the Toyota family. Listed as a compact by the EPA and a subcompact by Consumer Reports and Toyota, CH-R is built in Japan and was taken in by the Toyota family when the corporation discontinued building its lower priced Scion model at the end of 2016. Pleased with its sales, Toyota rebranded all of its Scion models for ’17 by simply adding Toyota badges and the realignment has proven beneficial to all parties from consumer to dealer. Most happy initially were dealers, who no longer needed any separate Scion marketing tools from signage to showroom, the latter usually accomplished with a pull down divider that split showroom footage necessary to sell the Toyota-built Scion.
Outwardly, our 2020 C-HR is a very sporty looking vehicle that mimics a two door although it is indeed a four door. The C-HR nomenclature stands for “Coupe High Rider” as the layout is both sporty and “high” with easy access ground clearance. The overall motif is somewhat like a coupe thanks to the rear door handles hidden high into the rear door area. You really have to look closely to see them and if you’re a child, it might be out of reach.
These new Toyota C-HR models still follow the Scion low price theories as the C-HR starts with the LE trim at just $21,295. Following are the mid-level XLE at $23,330 and then our upscale Limited loaner at $26,350.
One thing I like about C-HR is its handling. Thanks to standard 18-inch Dunlop Sport 5000 tires on lightweight alloy wheels, there wasn’t any type of road our C-HR didn’t like. Highway cruising is comfortable, although there is a bit more road and engine noise which is common to lower-priced small car and SUV models. Thanks to a fully independent Macpherson strut front coupled to a multi-link rear setup, lots of safety features and excellent ABS 4-wheel discs this little crossover is easy to maneuver. It’s also a breeze to park and rates high on the driver “fun factor.”
Another positive is C-HR’s standard across the line infotainment system that features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even Amazon Alexa. Add SiriusXM, Bluetooth, six speakers, USB Media/Charge port and you have a feature filled standard system. Our Limited tester included a $465 Audio Plus upgrade that makes for an even better sounding stereo experience. Last year, Android Auto was not available, so it’s good to see Android smartphone users included for 2020.
Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 139 lb. ft. of torque. This engine mates to a CVT automatic and is the only drivetrain combo available. The only negative in my opinion is the CVT automatic transmission, as my regular readers know I’m still not a fan and haven’t been since these transmissions were introduced in other manufacturer vehicles many years ago. It’s a personal thing with me, but the Toyota CVTs are some of the better ones nowadays and feature a “Sport/Normal/Eco” mode select. As for acceleration, or lack thereof, zero to 60 mph arrives in about 10.5 to 11 seconds. Fuel mileage, however, is very good with 27 city and 31 highway estimates, both competitive in this growing subcompact and compact crossover class
Now for some really good news on Toyota C-HR.
The entry C-HR LE comes packed with standard safety features, meaning you don’t need to spend a few thousand more on the XLE and Limited models to receive the uppermost in modern safety protection. Toyota’s heralded Safety Sense package is standard and includes pre-collision and pedestrian detection, 10 airbags, lane departure warning, lane keep assistance, daytime running lamps, automatic high beams and even automatic emergency braking. The C-HR also receives adaptive cruise control and the rear safety camera view delivered through the Entune 8.0-inch display screen. The only safety item the entry LE does not have is the rear cross traffic blind spot monitor, but most drivers can live without it considering all the other high tech safety equipment is standard. (Well done Toyota.)
More standard fare includes dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, nice bucket seats and a cargo cover. If you opt for the Limited, you’ll also receive the Toyota Smart Key system, bumper upgrade, black pillar treatment, fog lamps, leather trim heated seats, rain sense windshield wipers, LED projector headlamps, voice command audio, and much more. Your Toyota dealer will gladly explain all trims when you visit.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.9-inches, 3,300-pound curb weight, 17.1-ft. turning radius, 5.9-inch ground clearance, from 19.1 to 37.0-cu. ft. of cargo space and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
Toyota C-HR currently comes only in front-drive format, although in the future an AWD trim would be a smart move and maybe even a turbo down the road for more power. Still, it’s an excellent safety inspired, sporty looking car from Toyota and worthy of a close look if shopping this segment. But remember once you get into the $28K price range for a C-HR, other lower cost vehicles from Toyota make for serious consideration ala a RAV4 or even a nice Camry or Corolla.
Still, a C-HR for $25K and under is a great buy, and better looking than a Camry regardless of age category.
Likes: Lots of safety, good looks, very low price.
Dislikes: No AWD, noisy, clearly needs more power.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.