There’s no question that Toyota knows how to build a solid, reliable and sensible selection of cars. You don’t become top dog in the automotive manufacturing business by taking giant risks on every new design; it’s the conservative well thought out approach that’s proven to sell.
The reason behind their success is really quite simple. The modern driver uses their head rather than their heart to choose their preferred method of going from A to B. Or at least they used to until the rise of the urban SUV, which has lead to a wide selection of stylish and equally unique models that steal your heart’s attention with their extravagant looks and charming features.
Toyota’s answer to the new crowd of SUVs is the C-HR (stands for Coupe-High Rider). Sensible isn’t going to cut it this time around so they’ve borrowed some inspiration from the Lexus luxury division when it came to the design and the result is impressive to say the least.
Just looking at the C-HR is exciting, there’s so much going on that your eyes dart all over the place, from the horizontally linked front lights to the pumped up wheel arches back to the floating roof-line and starship specification rear lights. It all adds up to a memorable car beaming with character – not what you’d usually expect from Toyota. You could almost be forgiven for thinking the C-HR is a baby Lexus RX 200t, they certainly share the same DNA.
The trend continues once you step into the C-HR’s cabin where there’s a common diamond theme throughout, with diamond textured door inserts, diamond shaped controls and even diamond inserts throughout the roof lining.
You can really tell that the team that designed the C-HR took great pride in their work and the car shows it. At night the door mirrors will project the Toyota C-HR branding onto the ground so everyone knows exactly what car you’re driving.
In some instances style has overtaken practicality – those diamond shaped wheel controls can be tricky to figure out while focusing on the road. However, the air conditioning controls are brilliantly simple and easy to operate with a solidly tactile feel and the whole package is built rock solid. The cabin is really a treat to be in.
The manually adjustable seats offer great comfort and support when cornering while also complimenting the interior visuals. Out the back boot space clocks in at a usable 377 litres that can expand further with the split 60/40 rear folding seats.
Rear visibility is compromised due to the rear hatch styling, while small windows and high riding window sills make reversing maneuvers a challenge. Standard factory fitted safety features like the reverse camera, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring do help to alleviate this downside but are no substitute for improved visibility.
Passengers in the rear seats are cocooned in and unless they’re rather tall will struggle to see out those rear windows. Tight car parks are made more easily traversed thanks to the tight turning circle of the short wheelbased C-HR.
Music lovers can rest assured as the C-HR comes with a great sounding stereo and touch screen infotainment system. The unit itself is simple to navigate, though the plastic buttons can feel a bit cheap and the screen is on the small side.
Unfortunately there is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integrated into the infotainment system which is a real oversight as it’s not a terribly expensive or difficult feature to include.
On the open road and around town the C-HR is a joy to drive, the ride isn’t too firm and nor is it too soft, right in the middle and comfortably so. All models of the C-HR are powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged engine making 85kW at 5,600rpm and 185Nm of torque from 1,500rpm, not exactly heart racing stuff. It’s enough power to get the one and a half tons of Toyota metal moving around town but on open roads more grunt would absolutely help.
All models apart from the base spec 2WD model come standard with the 7 speed CVT automatic and while the shifter did feel a tad sloppy and loose, performance was acceptable with smooth shifts and operation. Toyota rates fuel economy at 6.5L/100km but the best I could achieve was 9.0L/100km with a heavy foot and primarily around town.
The real strength of the C-HR is the factory fitted range of standard features available on all models which you’d only see in the top spec grades of rivals. Safety is taken care of by Reversing Camera, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Pre-Collision Safety System and Lane Departure Alert.
Add in Active Cruise Control, 17″ Alloy Wheels, LED Foglights, Daytime Running Lamps, Parking Sensors, Automatic Electronic Handbrake, Satellite Navigation and Rain Sensing Wipers and the whole package makes the base model C-HR an attractive buy.
An additional $4,300 will see you jump up to Koba spec that we tested which features 18″ Alloy Wheels, LED Headlights, Smart Entry, Smart Start, Nanoe Air purifying technology and Leather Accented Heated Front Seats.
4WD will cost you a further $2,000 though most suburban and city owners will do fine without it.
Design and Comfort: 9/10
Performance & Handling: 7/10
Features & Equipment: 9.5/10
With the C-HR, Toyota has proven that they still have a fun streak hidden deep within the corporate leviathan that makes up the company and all it takes is a little pressure from competitors to bring it out. The C-HR is a very impressive bit of kit, well featured with striking design all while having that solid Toyota build quality and reliability.
- Visually impressive inside and out
- Packed with factory standard features
- Great sound from stereo
- Slightly down on power
- Rear visibility lacking
- Small infotainment display
2017 Toyota C-HR Pricing and Specification
|Price (Excl. On-Roads):||From $26,990 / As tested: $35,290 (Koba AWD)|
|Warranty:||3-year or 100,000km|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||N/A|
|Country of origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/15,000km|
|Engine:||1.2-litre turbocharged, direct-injected in-line four-cylinder petrol:|
85kW @ 5,600rpm, 185Nm @ 1,500-4,000rpm
|Drivetrain:||Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (optional)|
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||57.4|
|Fuel Consumption (Combined):||6.5L/100km (claimed); 9L/100km (tested)|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||50|
|Body:||5-door SUV; 5 seats|
|Safety (Koba):||5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, ABS, AEB, BA, EBD, ESC, Traction Control, Active Cruise Control, LED DRL, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, Automatic High Beam, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, sway warning system, trailer sway control, hill-start assist control|
|Dimensions: L/W/H/W-B (mm):||4,360/1,795/1,565/2,640|
|Boot Space (L):||377|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 600/Unbraked: 600|
|Entertainment (Koba):||6.1-inch colour touchscreen with six speakers, satellite navigation with SUNA Live Traffic, safety alert, Bluetooth, USB/AUX input, Toyota Link connected mobility|