2020 Toyota C-HR

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
October 20, 2019

Buying tip

Don’t look for all-wheel drive on the 2020 Toyota C-HR; every version sends power to the front wheels.

The 2020 Toyota C-HR’s updated styling is less polarizing, and it now includes both Apple and Android smartphone support.

The 2020 Toyota C-HR doesn’t toe the company line like its showroom stablemates. Across the floor sits the comparatively conventional Corolla hatchback and RAV4 crossover, between which the C-HR slots with its funky looks and quirky personality.

Fun fact: Underneath, all three are pretty much the same car. We rate the 2020 C-HR at 5.5 out of 10, a figure derived from weighing its comfortable ride and good value against subpar outward vision and unimpressive fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

Available in LE, XLE, and Limited trim levels, the 2020 C-HR boasts a few more features this year and a cleaner look outside that doesn’t really change its outlook. It’s the nonconformist of the pack.

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A 2.0-liter inline-4 routes just 144 horsepower forward through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). There’s no manual and no all-wheel drive, and there’s not much zeal, either. The C-HR is a leisurely performer, which comes as something of a surprise given its modest 29-mpg combined rating from the EPA. Competitors with all-wheel drive are more miserly. 

Where the C-HR earns our respect is in its plush ride and beefy steering. It’s almost fun to drive, but not quite. 

That attention-grabbing styling takes a toll on utility, especially for rear-seat riders stuck in the cramped second row. Outward vision isn’t very good, either, and the C-HR doesn’t offer a huge amount of cargo utility. 

Its feature count is high, especially when it comes to safety gear. The C-HR comes standard with adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and automatic emergency braking, features some competitors still count as extra-cost options. Crash-test results have been good, too. 

Newly standard this year is Android Auto compatibility, which joins Apple CarPlay to take command of the 8.0-inch touchscreen. That’s a good thing since Toyota’s built-in interface is just average. 

For around $22,500, the base C-HR LE is a decent value, as long as snow isn’t in the forecast. 

7

2020 Toyota C-HR

Styling

Updated looks this year give the 2020 Toyota C-HR cleaner exterior styling.

A gentle nip and tuck this year refines the 2020 Toyota C-HR, taking off some of last year’s oddball angles. It’s still a standout design that won’t look like the rest of the parking lot. Whether that’s a good thing is up to you, but we score the stylish C-HR at 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

Toyota this year cleaned up the 2020 C-HR’s front end and simplified its LED headlights and taillights. Its shape is as wacky as ever, splitting the narrow difference between crossover and hatchback. Toyota even calls the car “Coupe, High Roof,” which stretches the definition of “coupe” since the C-HR has four side doors. 

The C-HR’s roof can be finished to match the body, in contrasting black, or in a new silver finish that replaces last year’s white roof. New 17- and 18-inch wheel designs finish the look.

Inside, the C-HR’s controls are up high, with a touchscreen that juts out of a relatively low dashboard. Climate controls sit just below, unlike those buried in the center console on some competitors. Interior fabrics and materials are restrained, giving us the feeling that Toyota told its designers to lure shoppers in with outlandish looks and then comfort them with a familiar small-car interior.

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2020 Toyota C-HR

Performance

The 2020 Toyota C-HR isn’t eager to head for the hills.

With just 144 horsepower on tap to lug around 3,300 pounds, the 2020 Toyota C-HR isn’t exactly raring to go. We dock a point for its sluggish acceleration, which puts the car at 4 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

Every C-HR makes use of a low-thrills 2.0-liter inline-4 that shuttles power to the front wheels through an economy-minded continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). There’s nothing exciting about this powertrain, though it is reasonably quiet. The “Sport” mode makes the transmission pretend to be an automatic with artificial “stepped” gear ratios, but its novelty wears off quickly.

Underneath, the C-HR is more sophisticated than its low price suggests. Front struts and a dual-wishbone independent rear suspension are class-up features not typically seen on inexpensive hatchback-crossovers, and they yield a plush, almost luxurious ride. Taut steering, bereft of wheel communication, helps the C-HR feel confident if not exactly sporty in everyday driving.

Don’t look for the C-HR to explore much beyond the city, however. It sits low to the ground and all-wheel drive isn’t on the options list. If hiking and camping’s your thing, may we suggest you look elsewhere.

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4

2020 Toyota C-HR

Comfort & Quality

Styling takes priority in the compact Toyota C-HR.

SUV stands for “sport-utility vehicle,” and the 2020 C-HR is, well, a vehicle that’s neither sporty nor particularly utilitarian.

We wind up at a 4 out of 10, docking a point for subpar rear-seat room. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

Riding on a nearly 104-inch wheelbase, the C-HR delivers reasonable front-seat space and cargo room. For a crossover-like vehicle, the front seat occupants sit relatively low, in car-like seats that are light on support but offer a good range of adjustment. A power driver’s seat comes on the C-HR Limited. Rear-seat riders make due with just 32 inches of leg room, and that’s once they contort themselves through unusually shaped rear door openings. Style comes first here, though we’ve found that car seats fit well in the C-HR. 

Behind the second row, the C-HR offers a modest 19 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than similarly-sized hatchbacks. Fold the rear seat and that grows to a still-modest 36.4 cubic feet.

The standard cloth upholstery and available leather trim have a nice feel. Soft-touch plastics are in short supply, but are appropriate for the C-HR’s price.

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2020 Toyota C-HR

Safety

The 2020 Toyota C-HR has done well in crash tests and lacks for little in terms of collision-avoidance tech.

The 2020 Toyota C-HR is a safe choice among small crossover SUVs, though outward vision is poor. We rate it at 6 out of 10, and new headlights this year could earn it an even higher score once the IIHS samples the updated model. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

The 2020 C-HR includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control as standard. Blind-spot monitors are among its options. 

Last year’s C-HR earned five stars overall from the NHTSA and “Good” ratings in every crash test from the IIHS. Newly standard LED headlights this year may help it earn a “Top Safety Pick” award from the IIHS, but we’ll update this space when we know more.

The C-HR has good forward outward vision, but chunky rear roof pillars and a somewhat low seating position spoil the view behind. We strongly recommend the optional blind-spot monitors.

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2020 Toyota C-HR

Features

Both Apple and Android users are finally supported in the 2020 Toyota C-HR.

A modest refresh this year endows the 2020 Toyota C-HR with more tech. We rate the 2020 C-HR at 7 out of 10 for its features. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

Three trim levels are on offer: LE, XLE, and Limited. With this year’s additional Android Auto compatibility joining the existing Apple CarPlay, we say stick with the base LE at around $22,500.

That money buys power features, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, automatic dual-zone climate control, and active safety gear. Stepping up to the XLE nets alloy wheels, blind-spot monitors, and keyless ignition, which may be $2,000 well spent for some buyers. 

The full-boat C-HR Limited runs around $27,500, which isn’t a bad deal given its standard leather upholstery, heated front seats, and power driver’s seat. 

Toyota’s baked-in infotainment system is just OK. We find ourselves far more apt to plug our phones in and let Apple or Google take over. 

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5

2020 Toyota C-HR

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Toyota C-HR isn’t as thrifty as its modest power and small size would suggest.

Don’t look to the 2020 Toyota C-HR to provide excellent fuel economy. Even with its small engine and petite dimensions, this crossover is thirstier than you might expect. 

We rate the 2020 C-HR at just 5 out of 10, a score some competitors with all-wheel drive can top. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

The C-HR is rated by the EPA at 27 mpg city, 31 highway, 29 combined. There’s no hybrid version on offer to slow fuel use, either. For commuters, Toyota’s own Corolla hatchback is rated as high as 35 mpg combined. Even the Subaru Crosstrek, which comes standard with all-wheel drive, is rated at 30 mpg combined. 

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5.5
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 6
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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