- Expressive style
- Great standard safety features
- New Apple CarPlay compatibility
- Big touchscreen
- Polarizing looks
- Dark, cramped rear seat
- Small cargo cutout
- Did you see how it looks?
The 2019 Toyota C-HR compact crossover is about looks. All about looks.
On looks alone, the 2019 Toyota C-HR is a breath of fresh air for small crossovers. Or maybe after looking at one, you need fresh air? We can’t tell.
It’s all about about the look, and we freely admit that it won’t be for most folks. We like that.
What we don’t like is an underpowered engine hauling a surprising amount of mass and cramped rear quarters. Beauty is pain and the 2019 C-HR lands at a 5.5 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, the news is new LE and Limited trims to bookend the XLE trim that was available last year. The C-HR LE is more intriguing here; it costs roughly $1,300 less than last year’s base trim and includes the same touchscreen and active safety that the other levels have. The Limited trim adds leather and other upmarket touches for nearly $30,000 to start.
The C-HR trades on its looks, which will appeal to some. The funky intersecting and stylish shapes are deceptively hiding a relatively big crossover, but they write a check that passengers will have to cash. More on that in a second.
Under the hood, the C-HR is powered by an overworked inline-4 that shuttles 144 horsepower through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel-drive only. Any pretense of off-roading should end at the C-HR’s low-slung jowls.
The small engine is tasked with moving more than 3,300 pounds with people aboard efficiently, and it returns up to 29 mpg combined.
The front seats are reasonably spacious, but at the cost of rear seat passengers. Toyota quotes just over 31 inches of rear seat leg room—which is compact—but it gets shorter with taller passengers aboard.
Keep the C-HR as a two-seat affair and it’s comfortable and can accommodate more than 32 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded down.
The good news this year is a new base version that rings the bell at just under $22,000 and includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility, standard automatic emergency braking, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, 17-inch wheels, and cloth upholstery. That’s relatively good value among competitors, and may look better to some first-time shoppers than the sheet metal.
2019 Toyota C-HR
The 2019 Toyota C-HR small crossover has style to spare.
The 2019 Toyota C-HR has style, which is more than many crossovers can say these days. Whether you like the C-HR’s style is another question.
We give the C-HR two points above effort for the high degree of difficulty to dive into the deep end. It gets a 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Picking up where the Nissan Juke left off, the C-HR is a smattering of kinks, curves, kickbacks, and curls rolled into one.
It’s a clever design for what would otherwise be a five-door hatchback. Boil it down to the essence and its the same “rising window line, sloped roof line” that others have somehow made boring already.
The C-HR—Toyota says it means “Coupe, High Riding”—is visually smaller than its measurements. It’s wider and taller than the Yaris, but hides it in all the right places.
That’s somewhat due to the lines that distract from the car’s overall size. The headlights wrap tightly into the wheel wells, and the deep side stampings press into the skeletal shape. The busy rear end sticks out—literally and figuratively—with bracketed taillights that are equally expressive as the rest of the car.
A contrast-color roof is available for $500 more for extroverts with money to spend, but we’re not convinced that it’ll age well. (Eds note: We could make the same larger point for the rest of the car, too.)
Inside, the car needs to pay back some of those shapes that the exterior mortgaged. The cockpit is fairly contained and sharp, but any other position that’s not called the driver’s seat can be dark and somewhat dull.
That’s doubly true for the back seats, which are compromised with an odd handle and feel very dark due to the chunky roof pillars.
2019 Toyota C-HR
The 2019 Toyota C-HR lacks power to be anything more than a tall-riding urban hatchback.
Maybe you’re not in a hurry? Maybe your commute begins in the bedroom and ends in the kitchen? Maybe the speed limit seems generous?
Maybe we presume too much.
We’re firm in one assumption: You won’t get the 2019 Toyota C-HR going in a hurry.
That’s because the C-HR’s single powertrain doesn’t motivate the crossover’s mass with any urgency. All-wheel drive isn’t available (mercifully) so it gets a 4 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The tale of the tape doesn’t lie: the C-HR relies on a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque to move 3,300 pounds. We estimate that the C-HR accelerates up to 60 mph from a stop somewhere between “leisurely” and “eventually.”
The engine is teamed with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that helps keep the C-HR efficient and likely geared toward around-town jaunts—think stoplight-to-stoplight stuff.
The CVT does its best to stay out of the way, which is a good thing. Dial it into “Sport” mode and the CVT steps through simulated gears for a jazzy character—we appreciate the effort.
The better news comes from the C-HR’s handling and steering, which is good for a small car that starts around $20,000.
Toyota gifted the C-HR front struts with Sachs dampers and a beefy front stabilizer bar, and an independent rear suspension with double wishbones. The C-HR skips the econobox treatment of a rear twist beam and it pays off: the C-HR can be fun to drive.
Provided you stay on the pavement, of course. Stateside, the C-HR skips all-wheel drive (Eds note: We’re not sure adding weight would help much, anyway.) and lacks the ground clearance to be anything other than an urban runabout.
Unlike other Toyotas that are very light, the C-HR’s steering feels heavier and with more consequence, which we appreciate.
2019 Toyota C-HR
Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Toyota C-HR is a looker but comfort takes a back seat to style—and it’s not very big back there.
The 2019 Toyota C-HR has all the attitude of a sporty ‘ute with spunk, we just wished it developed the “utility” part a little more.
Starting from an average score of 5, we ding it one for lack of back seat space. It gets a 4 out of 10 for comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The C-HR rides atop a compact platform that it shares with other small Toyotas including the Prius and Corolla that measures 103.9 inches between the wheels. Unlike those cars, the CH-R needs some of that real estate for its expressive shape, which includes awkward rear door handles and cutouts, that cuts into rear leg room. By the numbers, rear seat passengers get 31.7 inches of leg room, but tall front-seat riders can significantly cut into that.
The front seats are supportive but can feel thin, and sit lower than we’d expect from a tall-riding hatchback. The rear seats sit higher, and have head room for 6-footers, but feel dark due to the car’s aggressive shape and small windows.
One bright spot: We’ve noticed that car seats fit into the rear seats surprisingly well.
The C-HR offers 19.0 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row that expands to 36.4 cubes, which is capacious for a small SUV. A small rear cutout somewhat spoils the utility of that space—something the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback aces.
Like a tango, we see the C-HR being best for two. Any more and it feels a little clumsy to us.
2019 Toyota C-HR
The 2019 C-HR’s standard automatic emergency braking outshines small demerits in the Toyota’s safety scorecard.
The 2019 Toyota C-HR gets all the big safety stuff right. Federal and independent testers give the crossover good marks for crash safety and Toyota bundles in a comprehensive set of advanced safety features.
Details matter though. The IIHS isn’t complimentary about the C-HR’s headlights and there’s a substantial rearward vision penalty for those out-there looks. The C-HR gets a 6 on our safety scale for now. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A closer look at the crash-safety numbers reveals a five-star overall score, including four stars for front- and rollover-crash safety.
The IIHS gave the C-HR top “Good” scores on all its tests, including the new passenger-side small overlap crash test. The IIHS also rated the small Toyota’s automatic emergency braking system as “Superior” at avoiding forward crashes.
The rest of the suite of advanced safety features on the C-HR help, too. In addition to automatic braking, the C-HR gets as standard forward-collision warnings, active lane control, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors are optional.
Those blind spots are prodigious. The chunky looks eat into outward vision toward the rear and makes the blind-spot monitors not only a good idea, but also somewhat mandatory.
The other demerit? A “Poor” rating for the C-HR’s headlights by the IIHS.
Chin up, though. The C-HR is equipped with 10 airbags, which is prolific for such a small hatchback.
2019 Toyota C-HR
A new 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay; the 2019 Toyota C-HR has our attentions.
The news this year for the Toyota C-HR is a base LE trim level that makes the spunky sprite more affordable for buyers.
Starting at $21,990, the 2019 Toyota C-HR LE is equipped with cloth upholstery, daytime running lights, 17-inch wheels, a suite of advanced safety features (that we cover above), dual-climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay compatibility.
That’s good for the money and worth a point above average on our scale. Another point for the excellent touchscreen and it gets a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
You could spend more on the C-HR, but we’re not sure you’re getting more.
The top trim this year is a new C-HR Limited grade that adds leather upholstery with power-adjustable front seats, premium audio, 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitors, keyless ignition, and fog lights for more than $27,000 to start.
We’re not sold on that value and would advise many to stick with the base trim, especially considering the crossover’s intended audience of first-time carbuyers.
A handful of personalization options available from the factory and dealers can customize the C-HR’s looks, which will appeal to many shoppers who are attracted to the funky looks of the cute Toyota ‘ute.
We have our reservations about the base infotainment system: it’s not especially intuitive compared to its rivals. The good news this year is newfound Apple CarPlay compatibility that supplements the system with a popular smartphone interface that handles most daily tasks. The bad news is that there is no Android Auto compatibility for that infotainment system—sorry Android fans. The worse news is that without springing for Toyota’s optional navigation system, Android users may be stuck with Scout GPS, a smartphone-based navigation supplement that is lousy.
2019 Toyota C-HR
The 2019 C-HR pays a price for the funky looks in fuel economy, too.
Despite its small size, the 2019 Toyota C-HR’s relatively heavy body means that its only average for fuel economy.
The EPA rates the 2019 C-HR at 27 mpg city, 31 highway, 29 combined. That’s good enough for a 5 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Other competitors do better. Front-wheel-drive versions of the 2019 Mazda CX-3 and 2019 Honda HR-V are rated at 30 mpg combined or better. The Nissan Kicks leads much of the bunch at 33 mpg combined, and hybrids such as the Kia Niro or Hyundai Ioniq go further.