2021 Toyota C-HR

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
September 11, 2020

Buying tip

The C-HR XLE has blind-spot monitors, which we usually recommend; they’re almost required with the car’s poor rearward vision, but the XLE costs about $2,000 more than the base LE model.

features & specs

LE FWD
Limited FWD
Nightshade FWD
MPG
27 city / 31 hwy
MPG
27 city / 31 hwy
MPG
27 city / 31 hwy
MSRP
$21,445
MSRP
$26,500
MSRP
$24,245

The 2021 Toyota C-HR needs to be seen to be believed; the driving’s forgettable.

What kind of car is the 2021 Toyota C-HR? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Toyota C-HR is dubbed a sport-utility vehicle by its maker, but it isn’t fooling us. It’s front-wheel drive, and doesn’t have a wagon body; it’s a hatchback to us. It compares to cars like the Hyundai Kona and Ford Ecosport. 

Is the 2021 Toyota C-HR a good car?

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It’s slightly above average, with a TCC Rating of 5.5 out of 10. It gets there with extra points in styling and features. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

What's new for the 2021 Toyota C-HR?

Not much. There’s a new Nightshade edition, and standard road-sign recognition and pedestrian detection for its safety systems.

Otherwise, the C-HR is sold in LE, XLE, and Limited trims. It still wears a slightly cleaner look than when it was new in 2018, but it’s a rowdy-looking car with every styling cue in Toyota’s book thrown at its body. The cockpit’s more of a snooze—and it’s a welcome respite. We applaud its nonconformist stance, but don’t let it get any more carried away. (Looking at you, Nissan Juke.)

The C-HR taps a 144-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 for juice and routes it through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). There’s no all-wheel drive, no manual gearbox, and not much zest, either. The C-HR performs leisurely, with a polished ride and weighty steering but ultimately not much excitement—not even in fuel economy, which dips below some all-wheel-drive competitors.

The C-HR’s look robs the second row of head and leg room, and it makes outward vision a trick, too. Cargo space is a strength, though it’s still somewhat smaller than its rivals.

How much does the 2021 Toyota C-HR cost?

The $22,565 C-HR LE is where we suggest you start and stop. It has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, power features, and active safety tech. More expensive versions get blind-spot monitors (good) and keyless start (fine), but fully loaded C-HR hatchbacks cost $27,620 and aren’t any safer or faster, and don’t get a better warranty: It’s Toyota’s standard-issue, 3-year/36,000-mile coverage, this year with two years’ included maintenance.

Where is the Toyota C-HR made?

C-HRs sold in the U.S. are made in Turkey.

7

2021 Toyota C-HR

Styling

The C-HR’s offbeat styling has its charm.

Is the Toyota C-HR a good-looking car?

Hooboy. That’s a question. We like distinctive looks even when they go overboard—and the C-HR’s so overboard, it can’t even see the boat anymore, and it knows Wilson on a first-name basis. We give it a 7, with a couple of points above average for the body. We hope history will forgive us.

Last year, Toyota pared down a couple lines from the C-HR’s front end and streamlined its LED headlights and taillights. It’s still a wacky fault line between hatchback and crossover, with a high roof and a stubby shape that undulates, waves, curves, and crests like the roads Toyota wants you to tackle with it. More on that in a moment.

Riding on 17- or 18-inch wheels, the C-HR can be finished with a silver or a black roof, adding to the visual jumble.

With a big, 8.0-inch touchscreen jutting out of a low dash, the C-HR presents a more conventional interior to the driver. The controls sit high, not buried in the console as they are on some rivals, and Toyota trims the interior with a restrained hand. It’s more luxurious than it lets on from the outside, especially when it’s dolled up with leather upholstery.

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4

2021 Toyota C-HR

Performance

The C-HR’s handling is fine; acceleration’s a drag.

How fast is the Toyota C-HR?

The C-HR has only 144 hp and weighs about 3,300 pounds. Acceleration is sluggish, though handling is decent. We take a point away from average, and give it a 4 for performance.

Is the Toyota C-HR 4WD?

No, the C-HR only comes in front-wheel-drive form. Those front wheels hardly scrabble for traction when the C-HR’s low-thrills 2.0-liter inline-4 sets into motion. The engine couples to a CVT that takes its time to adjust its ratios, which makes the C-HR feel slow to respond—even when it’s clicked into a “Sport” mode with simulated forward gears.

It lacks zip, but the C-HR has reasonable ride and handling. It’s set up with front struts and a multi-link independent rear suspension that gives it a very well-controlled ride. It’s endowed with taut steering feel that doesn’t telegraph much information to the driver, so it feels engaged if not particularly sporty. The visuals are just that: it looks ready to tackle a favorite winding road, but the C-HR’s really set up for a hassle-free ride to work.

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4

2021 Toyota C-HR

Comfort & Quality

The C-HR gives up space for style.

Toyota would like you to consider the C-HR an SUV, but it’s not, really—there’s no all-wheel drive, and “utility” is on the low side thanks to its shape. We give it a 5 for comfort and utility; it picks up one point for cargo space but loses it to back-seat accommodations.

On its wheelbase of 103.9 inches, the C-HR spreads more of it to the front seats, which sit low but have a good range of adjustment. Power adjustment comes only on the Limited, with leather upholstery and heated seats. 

In back, the C-HR has just 32 inches of leg room, plus awkwardly shaped rear doors that make entry and exit difficult. Head room is slim, too. 

Fold down the rear seats and the C-HR’s 19 cubic feet of cargo space expands to 36.4 cubic feet. Both are modest numbers for what’s really a tall hatchback.

Toyota wraps the interior of the C-HR in standard cloth upholstery or available leather trim, both of which have a nice feel. The cockpit’s trimmed out appropriately for its price.

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2021 Toyota C-HR

Safety

The C-HR could use better glasses.

How safe is the Toyota C-HR?

The C-HR has mixed safety scores. Toyota fits the C-HR with a wealth of standard safety gear, but its headlights don’t meet the IIHS’ standards. It’s a 6 here, with points for its five-star NHTSA performance in crash tests and for its standard automatic emergency braking—but we take a point away for its rearward vision.

Every C-HR gets automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control as standard. Blind-spot monitors come on the XLE and Limited editions—and they’re necessary since the C-HR has thick roof pillars that limit its rearward view.

The C-HR would pick up another point here from the IIHS if its base LED headlights were better. The agency dubs them “Poor,” while the Limited model gets “Good” units. 

This year the C-HR’s safety suite adds pedestrian detection for automatic braking and road-sign recognition for its cruise control.

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7

2021 Toyota C-HR

Features

A new Nightshade edition caps the changes to the C-HR.

Which Toyota C-HR should I buy?

We think the base $22,565 C-HR LE is the best value. We rate it at 7 for features thanks to standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, power features, active safety gear, and automatic dual-zone climate control. The $24,600 XLE adds blind-spot monitors and keyless start; we recommend that safety tech, but it’s expensive here, at a $2,035 upcharge.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Toyota C-HR?

The $27,620 C-HR Limited adds heated front seats, a power driver seat, and leather upholstery.

Toyota’s infotainment system is OK, but we usually use smartphone-based systems in cars without elaborate in-car data services or super-simple native navigation.

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5

2021 Toyota C-HR

Fuel Economy

The C-HR isn’t as thrifty as it is small.

Is the Toyota C-HR good on gas?

Gas mileage is good, but not great—not for its size. We give it a 5 for fuel economy since the EPA rates it at 27 mpg city, 31 highway, 29 combined. With no hybrid edition, it’s outranked by Priuses, Corollas, even the Subaru Crosstrek.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$21,445
MSRP based on LE FWD
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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
Compare the 2021 Toyota C-HR against the competition
  • 2021 Ford Ecosport

    3.5
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  • 2021 Honda HR-V

    5.2
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  • 2021 Hyundai Kona

    6.3
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  • 2021 Subaru Crosstrek

    6.0
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