C-HR should stand for C-segment Hot Rod

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Toyota has made a huge splash at the 2016 L.A, Auto Show with its 2018 C-HR crossover debut. This C-segment,

like crossover wears very aggressive styling, especially for Toyota, and offers a peppy drivetrain combined with an advanced suspension system and an honest rack-and-pinion steering system. The C-HR name stands for Coupe High-Rider and is nearly a carbon copy of the Scion C-HR concept that debuted at the 2015 L.A. Auto Show.

The C-HR will come in two trim levels: XLE and XLE Premium. Both are well equipped with all the modern gadgets and amenities, but the XLE Premium comes standard with a slew of active safety systems. Regardless of trim, the C-HR will have 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, front bucket seats, a seven-inch audio display, and Toyota Safety Sense P.

Toyota pushed to make the C-HR handle better than its competition, too. Believe it or not, the C-HR was developed on the Nürburgring in Germany and uses some high-end suspension components to achieve a sporty yet comfortable ride. Interestingly though, Toyota decided to include a Continuously Variable Transmission rather than a conventional, six-speed gearbox or the six-speed manual gearbox found in the C-HR concept.

Despite this C-HR not being a true hot-hatch competitor, this crossover will certainly be one of the most stylish and bold entries in the C-segment class. Not even the Nissan Juke can out-style this Toyota. Naysayers are condemning the C-HR for looking like the Honda HR-V, but we don’t see that many similarities beyond the coupe-like roofline and funky rear doors.

Anyway, let’s have a good look at the 2018 Toyota C-HR.

Continue reading for the full review.

  • 2018 Toyota C-HR
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • Torque @ RPM:
    130 (Est.)
  • Energy:
    Gasoline/Electric Hybrid
  • Displacement:
    1.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; FWD, AWD
  • Price:
    25000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696107

Wow, Toyota’s designers outdid themselves on this one. The C-HR certainly different than anything we’ve seen from the automaker before, though it somewhat reminds us of the Hyundai Veloster. That’s probably because the C-HR’s rear doors have C-pillar-mounted door handles that nearly intersect with the sloping roof. The Veloster aside, the C-HR is undeniably sporty and is certainly Toyota’s most aggressive design. Toyota says its mission statement in creating the C-HR was “distinctive diamond.” While we’re not completely sure on what that means, the finished result brought diamond shapes all over the crossover.

The C-HR is undeniably sporty and is certainly Toyota’s most aggressive design.

Up front, the C-HR looks somewhat similar to the current RAV4 thanks to the large headlights and piano black accent that spans between them. The C-HR’s bumper features an unconventional design, with the lower fascia sucking in all the air. Fog lights, air scoops, and angular panels abound. The angles continue onto the side, where the C-HR looks like it’s been hitting the gym. The sculpted area below the A-pillar looks muscular, as does the bodyline that flows along the fender arches and lower door panels.

The funkiness continues out back. The glass hatch slopes off the roof at a steep angle before joining the nearly vertical rear hatch. The opening is bookended by large, boomerang-style, LED taillights. Down low, the bumper sports faux vents behind the rear tires, while black body molding is carried over from the lower section of the side doors. Black moldings around the wheel arches give the C-HR a more SUV-ish, rugged look.

Sporty 18-inch alloy wheels with machined-faced fronts and black painted pockets continue the theme. The rear spoiler that protrudes over the liftgate’s glass is said to be functional, though its function is probably to keep the rear window clean rather than creating downforce.

Overall, the C-HR carries a futuristic and youthful design that promises a fun driving experience.

The Competition

The Honda HR-V is a bit more conservative than the C-HR, though it is one of Honda’s funkiest designs. The front shares some design language with the Honda C-RZ coupe. Strong bodylines and accents abound, all capped off by the sloping rear roofline. Handles mounted in the C-pillar operate the rear doors and are likely too tall for kids to reach. The Toyota has the same issue. Out back, the Honda has large taillights resting inside a smile line that spans the width of the car.

The Nissan Juke started the funky crossover segment back in 2011 and it remains one of the most polarizing vehicles on the road. I’ve heard people say they love it, while others have said it looks like a frog. Opinions aside, the Juke is certainly a hot contender for the C-HR. Now, if we could just have Toyota pull off a TRD version of the C-HR to compete with the Juke Nismo RS….

Exterior Comparison: Honda HR-V (left) - Nissan Juke (right) - Toyota C-HR (center)

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V
- image 695487
2015 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior
- image 696844
2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 667809
Honda HR-V Nissan Juke Toyota C-HR
Wheelbase (inches) 102.8 99.6 103.9
Length (inches) 169.1 162.4 171.2
Height (inches) 63.2 61.8 61.6
Width (inches) 69.8 69.5 70.7


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Interior
- image 696859

The Toyota C-HR’s interior is a surprisingly refined and stylish place to sit. While it does carry quite the design language, it’s not overdone or outlandish in any way. The dashboard is a good combination of matt and gloss finishes, with bits of chrome scattered about, a seven-inch infotainment screen, and intuitively placed HVAC controls. A leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel is loaded with controls for easy reaching and a small driver information screen between the analog gauges shows important vehicle metrics.

The dashboard is a good combination of matt and gloss finishes, with bits of chrome scattered about, a seven-inch infotainment screen, and intuitively placed HVAC controls.

The center console is pretty to look at, but does split up the cup holders. Form is definitely leading function in this area. Nevertheless, the shifter looks like Toyota borrowed it from a Lexus product thanks to its satin chrome knob and leather boot. A storage bin resides beneath the center armrest, typical of most vehicles these days.

Rear passengers are treated to smaller quarters than the front occupants, but room for two should be fine for long trips. Fitting three adults across might present a problem, however. If it’s cargo you’re hauling, the rear seats fold down 60/40 style, giving a decent amount of room behind the front row.

The Competition

The Honda HR-V has a more subtle cabin, but is by no means boring. A driver-focused cockpit offers controls at the fingertips. The high-rise center console splits the two front seats and offers two large cup holders toward the center armrest. A lower compartment area provides USB and 12-volt connections, as well as a place for random items. There have been complaints about Honda’s touch-sensative HVAC and radio controls, but user experience likely varies.

The Nissan Juke’s interior is beginning to show its age, but is still a funky place to sit. The bulbous center console is more for looks than storage, though it provides a great position for the optional manual transmission’s gearshift. Multi-function controls switch between HVAC and drive mode settings, making it a very unique attribute for the Juke. Those who want a truly sporty experience will be happy with the Nismo RS version’s Recaro racing seats and Alcantara-lined steering wheel.

Interior Comparison: Honda HR-V (left) - Nissan Juke (right) - Toyota C-HR (center)

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V
- image 695490
2015 Nissan Juke High Resolution Interior
- image 544666
2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Interior
- image 696127
Honda HR-V Nissan Juke Toyota C-HR
Headroom (inches, front/rear) 39.5/38.3 42.1/32.1 TBA
Legroom (inches, front/rear) 41.2/39.3 39.6/36.7 TBA
Shoulder Room (inches, front/rear) 56.8/54.5 53.6/51.4 TBA
Hiproom (inches, front/rear) 53.1/47.4 51.5/48.4 TBA


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 696126

The 2018 C-HR might look like a hot rod, but it will perform like a typical Toyota – at least in a straight line. Handling, however, has the potential to become the second-most sporty under the Toyota banner – behind the 86 Coupe, of course. Power comes from a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder that makes 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. It uses variable valve timing to help generate power, but it’s only integrated onto the intake valves. Direct injection or other high-tech bits are not included, but it does feature an interesting oil pump.

2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 696125
Power comes from a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder that makes 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque.

Yep, the oil pump, of all things, is a world-first. It’s called a coaxial two-port oil pump and it allows for continuous oil pressure manipulation during different driving conditions. This gives pump the freedom to increase or decrease oil pressure depending on the engine’s need.

The engine is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission that only sends power to the front wheels. Sadly, the manual transmission option on the C-HR concept didn’t make the production cut. The CVT has seven simulated gears to give the feeling of a conventional automatic. It also allows for manual control of those “gears.”

The C-HR does include some interesting tech for turning corners. It has a traditional rack-and-pinion steering system despite the industry’s hard push toward electronic steering systems. This will surely give the C-HR some feedback from the front wheels. It also has a Preloaded Differential that’s said to help distribute torque evenly between the wheels during low-speed driving. Engaging Sport Mode makes the throttle more responsive, quickens the CVT’s “shifts,” and keeps engine revs higher in the powerband.

The C-HR rides on MacPherson struts up front that include Sachs dampers with angles strut bearings. A thick anti-roll bar pins the two front wheels together for a flat-cornering ride. Out back, a double-wishbone suspension also uses Sachs dampers complete with urethane upper supports. This is a first for Toyota and is said to work with the cast aluminum upper support housing to aid in the dampers’ absorption efficiently. This is supposed to give a more comfortable ride that handles well when pushed.

The Competition

The Honda HR-V comes powered by a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the Toyota, the Honda’s engine features direct fuel injection and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust sides. That last bit is thanks to Honda’s iconic i-VTEC system that controls both lift and duration of valve operation. The HR-V comes with a CVT and can be had in FWD or AWD versions.

The Juke comes standard with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes a stout 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A CVT manages the power sent to the front wheels or to all four wheels with the AWD option selected. Opting for the Nismo RS version gets you an updated 1.6-liter turbo-four with 215 horsepower. FWD and a manual transmission are standard, but AWD paired with a CVT (and only 211 horsepower) is available.

Honda HR-V Nissan Juke Toyota C-HR
Engine 1.8 liters In-Line 4-Cylinder 1.6 liters Inline 4-cylinder 2.0-liter, four-cylinder
Horsepower 141 HP @ 6,500 RPM 188 HP @ 5,600 RPM 144 HP @ 6,100 RPM
Torque 127 LB-FT @ 4,300 RPM 177 LB-FT @ 1,600-5,200 RPM 139 LB-FT @ 3,900 RPM
Transmission 6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Manual CVT
EPA City/Highway/Combined 25/33/28 28/32/29 TBA
Weight 2,888 Lbs 2,977 Lbs TBA


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 667804

Toyota has loaded the C-HR with safety equipment it normally reserves for higher-end vehicles. Called the Toyota Safety Sense P, the system includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function, forward collision warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function, Automatic High Beams, and Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Of course, should the worst happen, the C-HR has a full suite of airbags, seatbelts, rear seat child restraint LATCH points, crumple zones, and a passenger safety cell.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696110

Toyota hasn’t announced any pricing information, though we expect that to happen closer to the C-HR’s on-sale date sometime in 2017. Prices are expected to be slightly higher than the Toyota RAV4, meaning we can expect the C-HR to start at around $25,000.

Honda HR-V LX $19,365
Honda HR-V EX $21,415
Honda HR-V EX-L Navi $24,840
Nissan JUke S $20.250
Nissan JUke SV $22,550
Nissan JUke SL $25,240
Toyota C-HR $25,000 (est.)


Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V Exterior
- image 580037

The Honda HR-V competes with the Toyota, but does so in a more reserved way. Its exterior styling is certainly bold, but looks almost mature compared to the C-HR’s outlandish lines. Looks are subjective though, so buyers will have to make their own decision on that.

The HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 141 horses and 127 pound-feet. It’s not the most powerful of the bunch, but it gets the job done. In FWD form, the HR-V is EPA-estimated to get 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.

Pricing for the 2016 HR-V starts at an obtainable $19,215. Adding options pushes the price north, but won’t exceed $24,000.

Read more about the Honda HR-V here.

Nissan Juke

2015 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior
- image 696844

The Juke is perhaps the funkiest crossover currently on the market. Nissan’s design is unconventional, to say the least, but it somehow works. The Juke has become a popular choice in the compact crossover segment, with sales exceeding what anyone imagined. Furthering its popularity is the addition of the Nismo and outlandish Nismo RS. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque power standard models, while the Nismo RS gets a spicier version making 215 horses. A manual transmission is available on the Nismo RS in FWD, but all other models come with a CVT.

Prices for the Nissan Juke start around $20,250, with the Nismo RS coming in at $24,830 before options.

Find out more about the Nissan Juke here.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696121

Toyota has broken the mold with the C-HR. It’s more avant-garde appearance and dynamic driving characteristics should attract the industry’s attention. The C-HR might be late to the compact crossover segment, but Toyota may just have a home run on its first bat.

Though it’s unlikely, it would be fantastic to see the automaker match the out-there styling with a performance model. The Juke Nismo RS would be an honorable benchmark, and Toyota has certainly been lacking any sort of honest performance model beside the 86 Coupe.

Regardless, we like the CH-R’s bold attempt to grab the compact crossover segment by the horns. No one can accuse Toyota of not trying. Now if Toyota could name it something other than “CHAIR.”

  • Leave it
    • Late to the game
    • Form over function
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
About the author

Press Release

An exciting next chapter in Toyota’s storied North American product history has been revealed under the lights of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Stylish, athletic, and tech-filled, the all-new 2018 Toyota C-HR – or, Coupe High-Rider – represents a leap forward in design, manufacturing, and engineering for Toyota. When it arrives at dealerships next spring, the C-HR will serve as a solid springboard of excitement, adventure, and pride for its fashion-forward, trendsetting owners.

Last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Scion debuted its stunning C-HR Concept. That well-received design study set the stage for the Toyota C-HR, which, nearly to the tee, carries on the concept’s avant-garde physique; modern, comfortable cabin; and bold, outgoing character.

2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696113

The C-HR will be available in two grades at launch, XLE and XLE Premium, each equipped with a long list of standard premium features that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, supportive bucket seating, 7-inch audio display, and Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P).

But, the C-HR doesn’t only look great – it’s got the sportiness to impress thanks to Deputy Chief Engineer, Hiro Koba, who is a diehard racer at heart. He and his team made it their mission to ensure the C-HR exhilarates its driver anytime, anywhere. Like its uncanny looks, the C-HR’s comprehensive and cohesive blend of comfort, control, consistency, and responsiveness that was cultivated on the famed Nürburgring is as impressive as it is unique.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696108

Toyota’s team of global designers expounded on one theme: “Distinctive Diamond.” The iconic gemstone evokes universal notions of luxury, attractiveness, sophistication, and strength. Designers translated these traits into a physical form that’s collectively matchless, sexy, muscular, and edgy. From the get-go, they strived to sculpt an urban-dwelling crossover that would effortlessly navigate tight city streets and stand out, with an agile, dynamic expressiveness.

At the C-HR’s nose, two slim projector-beam halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights wrap deep into its toned shoulders – nearly all the way into the front quarter panels. Because of this, the vehicle looks wider than it is, and possesses an assertive fascia that’s uncommon in the segment.

Deep, curvy character lines emerge from a prominent Toyota badge that’s flanked by the headlamps, and lead into the narrower core body. They run below the slender windows, and continue above the rear wheel where they marry to a high beltline and distinctive C-Pillar with integrated door handle.

Look closely at the silhouette to see the clear resemblance of a diamond set on its side. Powerful arches housing the extra-large 18-inch aluminum wheels accentuate the C-HR’s sturdy posture and compact cabin.

The rear is a cohesive melding of its elaborate lines and 3D shapes. The tail lamps protrude outward, and the hatchback – outfitted with a lip spoiler and functional top wing – tapers neatly inboard, adding to the C-HR’s futuristic look, and, once more, surprising girth.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Interior
- image 696127

Opening a door reveals a modern, spacious, and uncluttered interior having a keen placement of diamond accents and a driver-centric “MeZONE” orientation. Along with the soft-touch materials covering surfaces throughout, the diamond pattern influences the designs of the dual-zone climate controls, speaker surrounds, and black headliner above the front passengers.

The slightly angled dashboard and amenity controls allows for the driver to have a clear view of the road ahead and intuitive access to instrumentation – a nod to the C-HR’s sports car influence. The 7-inch audio display is positioned centrally atop the dash, rather than in it, so as to help reduce a driver’s eye movements. An informative twin-ring gauge cluster resides behind the leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel. The wheel, with its slender profile, small diameter, and compact center pad, is reminiscent of a sports car’s easy-to-grip helm. The satin-plated shift knob exudes a high-quality feeling, and once in-hand, has a solid shift movement. A bright 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display sits between the twin-ring cluster.

Key XLE standard features include a premium leather steering wheel; power fold and heated mirrors; auto-dimming rearview mirror with backup camera; electric parking brake; and dual-zone climate control. The XLE Premium builds upon the XLE’s amenities and adds Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; heated front seats; power lumbar driver’s seat; auto fold, heated side mirrors with puddle lamps that project “Toyota C-HR”; fog lamps; and Smart Key with Push Button Start. Both grades are equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display having AM/FM/HD Radio™, Aha™app, USB port and AUX jack, Bluetooth®, and Voice Recognition with voice training.

Bolstered bucket seats help keep passengers snug and comfortable, no matter their commute’s duration or dynamism. All passengers will appreciate the generous amount of small item storage space and cup holders. Designers used scalloped seatbacks, foot well cubbies carved below the front seats, and a chamfered headliner to create a spacious backseat environment. Sound insulating materials placed on the carpet, headliner, A-pillars, and door trim to help keep all unwanted noises out and the good conversations in. For extra cargo carrying versatility on weekend trips or errand runs, the rear 60/40 seat can split and fold flat.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696110

The Toyota C-HR scores high on style points, but it is also a hit when it comes to thrilling fun and impressive comfort. Deputy Chief Engineer Koba took full advantage of the C-HR’s adaptable Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) to craft an engaging character that goes well beyond just a cool appearance. The C-HR’s core driving personality incorporates the ingredients of a well-sorted sports car – one that seamlessly melds cunning responsiveness, linearity, consistency, and comfort.

Years were spent developing the C-HR’s driving performance and ride quality on some of the world’s most curvaceous and challenging roads, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, an iconic racing circuit. Doing so took a mix of innovation, creativity, and trial and error. As a result, the TNGA platform – with an inherent low center-of-gravity, high strength, and low weight – benefitted from extra rigidity through added spot welding, gussets, braces, and adhesives in and on key connection structures.

The newly developed MacPherson strut front suspension with SACHS dampers has angled strut bearings and a large diameter stabilizer bar to help the C-HR’s front end respond quickly and precisely at initial corner turn-in. And at the rear, an all-new double-wishbone suspension utilizes SACHS shock absorbers with urethane upper supports – a first for Toyota. The material, together with an aluminum-cast upper support housing, aids in the dampers’ absorption efficiency, and therefore, greatly benefit passenger comfort, cabin quietness, and vehicle agility.

Feeling connected to the road is characteristic of a sporty drive, and the C-HR delivers with its column-type Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system. As is the case with other EPS systems, a tilt of the steering wheel will return light feedback at low speeds, and at higher speeds, drivers will notice stronger feedback for increased confidence while behind the wheel. The C-HR’s steering system’s feel, however, relies on a highly rigid rack-and-pinion steering gearbox that is installed directly to the front suspension.

For all of its sportiness, the C-HR’s ride quality is well-sorted, civilized, and highly capable in absorbing the nastiest of unkempt pavement. The end result is a C-HR that finds itself as at home on congested boulevards as it does on serpentine roads.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 696125

The C-HR’s engine, a punchy 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, sends all power to the front wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine employs many of Toyota’s latest generation of technologies, including Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Valvematic, both of which have received extensive optimization to enhance fuel economy and smooth operation. Valvematic offers a broader range of continuously variable valve timing (lift and phasing) to provide optimal intake valve (not on exhaust side) operation relative to engine demands. Furthermore, to reduce exhaust emissions, the catalyst is warmed earlier during the engine’s ignition cycle.

The all-new CVT received much attention by engineers, and utilizes redesigned pulleys to enhance acceleration and fuel economy; a new belt structure to reduce cabin noise; and, a world’s-first coaxial two-port oil pump system that allows for continuous oil pressure modifications in various driving conditions. A Preload Differential helps to distribute torque between the left and right wheels during low-speed operation to make for easier, composed driving.

Of course, drivers and passengers will appreciate the powertrain’s fuel efficiency, impressive smoothness, and quiet operation, but they’ll love Sport mode and the simulated 7-speed Sequential Shiftmatic. Engaging the Sport mode via the MID increases the responsiveness of the throttle, quickens the CVT’s automatic artificial “step-up” shifts, and maintains high engine speed to enhance acceleration. The EPS’ feedback is weightier for a more confidence-inspiring feel. Pushing the gearshift over to the left while in Drive engages Sequential Shiftmatic, and lets drivers shift simulated gears at their convenience.


2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 696109

No matter its grade, the C-HR comes equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P). This multi-feature advanced active safety suite bundles cutting-edge active safety technologies including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function (PCS w/PD) featuring forward collision warning and Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The C-HR is the only competitor in the segment to offer standard Full-Speed DRCC.

Complementing TSS-P are 10 standard airbags, standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and rear backup camera, as well as available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which are only available on the XLE Premium grade.

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Press release

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