Meet the 2018 Toyota C-HR: A Small Crossover Built For You, Miss Millennial

A Girls Guide To Cars | Meet The 2018 Toyota C-Hr: A Small Crossover Built For You, Miss Millennial - Toyotachr Featured Image

A Lot to Love, Especially The Price

The small crossover segment is hot, and for good reason: buyers love the height of crossovers, the comfort and flexibility of interior space paired with a budget-friendly price tag. Compact CUVs often mean you have money left over for other things. 

Toyota’s new entry, the C-HR is one you should see if you’re in the market for a small crossover. It fills the gap for certain buyers, especially teens or or first-time car buyers, with a very affordable, flexible, stylish car.

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My drive partner Chad and I in the Toyota C-HR. My handbag, on the back seat, was easy to reach and didn’t turn over despite the curvy roads we drove. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This Small Crossover is For: 

  • Singles, couples or small families
  • First time car buyers
  • Millennials: Teen or college-age drivers
  • Buyers seeking a value-priced car
  • Buyers who want a crossover
  • Drivers who need a small car with lots of flexibility
  • Buyers who want the hot new car
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The Toyota C-HR comes in solid colors or in an array of bright colors with a white roof and accents. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What it Costs

  • C-HR XLE: $22,500
  • C-HR XLE Premium, which includes C-HR puddle lights and push button starter: $24,500

Scroll all the way down for more photos and to hear what we listened to on our test drive. And look for the “Genius!” 

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The Toyota C-HR’s name is code for ‘coupe high rider.’ To get the coupe look the roof line dips toward the back bumper and the back door handles are inset into the doors. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s That Name About?

C-HR. I admit, I had to commit this to memory; car names composed of letters and numbers tend to be confusing. But then Toyota execs explained it and it made sense: C-HR stands for Coupe High Rider.

But, it’s not a coupe, which is defined as a two-door car. It’s a four door. With its smallish size, it can pass for a coupe, just like Alexis Bledel still passes for a teenager (and Lauren Graham will forever be seen as her teenage mom). To further get the coupe look, Toyota carved the handles of the rear door into the body and lowered the roof line so the rear doors, while completely functional, are not a focus of the car’s look, but rather, blend into the overall look.

See our review of the Kia Niro hybrid crossover.

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The back seat of the Toyota C-HR was surprisingly roomy, though the smallish windows on the rear doors made it a bit dark. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Toned, Muscular and Designed to Conquer the Road

One reason a coupe is appealing to car buyers—and to car designers—is that they are thought of as ‘driver’s cars.’ Coupe drivers are by definition not hauling a lot of people or stuff, so they can focus on the road. That was part of the inspiration behind the C-HR. Hiro Koba, C-HR’s deputy chief engineer, shared the mission: creating a design that hugs the road and gives the driver a fun, fast experience, all while providing the benefits of a crossover—higher off the road and flexible cargo space. With wheels that are wide set at the C-HR’s corners and a more finely tuned suspension, Toyota accomplished this. The C-HR was fun to drive on hilly, winding roads, but also, was confident on the highway.

I particularly liked the higher-riding stance; crossovers put you at eye-level with traffic, especially trucks. In the C-HR I never felt overshadowed in traffic and while it doesn’t have a huge engine, it provided enough power to also give me confidence merging into heavy traffic (and decent MPG!).

The downside to a coupe is found in the back seat: Small space and limited  passenger visibility. The C-HR’s back seat was surprisingly roomy for such a small car. However, in blending the doors into the body to achieve the coupe look, they have less glass than a typical rear door. Back seat passengers will have a diminished view; fine for short rides but perhaps not as comfortable for long rides.

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The view from the driver’s seat in the Toyota C-HR; the touch screen features radio and some phone apps but does not have navigation or satellite radio. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Designed for Millennials: Affordable, Stylish and Bring Your Own Tech

What did you want when you were 24? Besides a job that let you pay down your student loans, go out with your friends and not have to work overtime? An affordable car that didn’t scream budget was my primary concern.

I was quite impressed by this car’s exterior appeal. The guys loved the two-tone white-roofed models but I preferred the pearl white or the simple silver, which had a more elegant, subtle look. Think, Whole Foods menu on an Aldi budget.

See our review of the Honda H-RV. 

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This was a clever detail: Room for two phones under the dash as well as a USB and AUX port. My iPhone 6+ would not fit in the nook but Chad’s phone, pictured here, fit in the nook as well as on the shelf next to the cup holder. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The two trim levels, XLE and XLE Premium provide nearly all the same standard equipment and there are no upgrade options. For entertainment that includes the basic radio and phone apps; there is no satellite, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or navigation option. 

That the touch screen is only for radio means it’s not a back up camera. In a very cool forward-thinking tech move, Toyota put the rear view camera on the rear-view mirror. Pop it into reverse and look in the rear-view mirror for a live view of what’s behind you.

See our review of the Mazda CX3.

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The rear view camera image displays on the rear view mirror rather than on the touch screen in the Toyota C-HR. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Safety is Standard, Too

One of the greatest things about this car is that all Toyota’s safety technologies are standard. That goes for almost all new Toyota models, too; the company has decided to load these features into every car they make as standard equipment. Yay.

This includes:

  • Rear view camera, displayed on the rear view mirror
  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Lane departure alert with steering assist
  • Automatic high beams
  • Full-speed range adaptive cruise control
  • Electric parking brake
  • Vehicle stability control
  • Traction control
  • Electronic brake-force distribution
  • Brake assist and smart stop
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No, the dash is not dusty, it just doesn’t photograph well: that’s glitter! The glossy black dash surround in the Toyota C-HR is embedded with glitter. Photo: Scotty Reiss

An Interior With Some Smart Details

The C-HR’s interior is nicely edited for simplicity. The small size of the car dictates the space for things; here’s what C-HR’s designers came up with:

  • Two cup holders positioned between the front seats
  • A small nook for a phone that is a smaller phone (my iPhone 6+ would not fit)
  • A USB and Aux port under the center console
  • A glittery black dashboard surround—one of my favorite features!
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel, leather gear shift cover and cloth seats
  • Fold flat rear seats
  • 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, 36 cubic feet with the second row folded flat
  • A smart ‘flap’ that hides the child car safety seat latch anchors
  • And yes, you can get a car seat (or two!) in the second row

Not that you would want to put a car seat (or two) in the back seat. The Toyota C-HR is all about you, Miss Millennial. Now, go enjoy being young and free.

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The front cabin of the Toyota C-HR; the center console is small but nicely organized. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Disclosure: I was Toyota’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided. Opinions expressed here are all my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss