Toyota Enters the Subcompact Segment with the C-HR

Published March 10, 2017 by Sean Jackson

Subcompact SUVs have become all the rage, targeting younger buyers with sporty styling, tech gadgets, and agile drives. Toyota is one of the latest manufacturers looking to cash into this market's potential and it’s making a huge statement with the C-HR. The C-HR concept debuted at the Los Angeles Auto show in 2015. The response from the reveal indicated Toyota was on the right path so it went ahead with the launch. The C-HR will be available in two grades when it arrives in dealerships later this spring--the XLE and the XLE Premium. Both of these models come loaded with ample equipment including Toyota’s Safety Sense, 18-inch alloy wheels, and more.

Style Origins

One look at the 2018 Toyota C-HR and it will be hard to turn away. The SUV’s dramatic styling comes from Deputy Chief Engineer Hiro Koba. Koba and his team fueled his love of racing to create a compact SUV that exhilarates its owners in more ways than one. Touching more on the style end, the theme for the C-HR was “Distinctive Diamond” according to Toyota’s press release. The reason for this is the diamond conveys luxury, refinement, and strength. Judging the crisp body lines and aggressive stance of the C-HR, it isn’t hard to see the team accomplished its objective in this regard. Every touch of the C-HR exudes power. To achieve a wider profile, Toyota designers equipped the SUV with two projector-beam halogen headlamps that wrap around to the front quarter panels. This touch of design helps the SUV earn its distinctive profile that separates it from other subcompact SUVs. The SUV’s power is also represented well in its distinctive body touches. Not only does it possess powerful arches that house the wheels, the lip spoiler, athletic body lines, and functional top wing all work together to provide a futuristic look that is way ahead of its time, especially when you compare it to other offerings in its class. Inside, Toyota engineers wanted to create a cabin that was breath-taking while keeping functionality high. The “MeZone” orientation promotes this, as the interior possesses a clean and spacious design. Driver functionality is a key emphasis. The angled dashboard creates more room for you to have a clear view of the road while the instrumentation is within arm’s reach. Both of these features illustrate the sports car inspiration that permeates throughout the SUV. The diamond theme extends inside too where you will notice the soft-touch materials on the SUV’s dual-zone climate controls, black headliners and more. To keep things sporty, Toyota added a seven-inch audio display. However, unlike other manufacturers who place their systems in the dash, Toyota situated the display above the dash, reducing driver’s eye movements. In addition, the twin-ring gauge cluster harkens back to the muscle car era to balance out the sporty tones of the cabin. In between the cluster resides the 4.2-inch multi-information display, where you can access key stats such as gas mileage, tire pressure and more. What you will find is no matter which of the two models you choose, you will receive touches of luxury. To illustrate, on the XLE you’ll receive power fold and heated mirrors, a premium leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an electric parking brake among other features. If you choose the XLE Premium, you receive all the touches of luxury found in the XLE with accident avoidance features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Convenience equipment includes heated front seats and a power lumbar support to reduce driver fatigue on long trips. Concerning audio and tech functions, both models come with the seven-inch touchscreen display. Through this display, you have access to HD radio and voice commands. Further, with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port, you can sync your phone or audio device easily.


The Toyota C-HR drives as good as it looks. The SUV comes equipped with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates an impressive 144-horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. It is also efficient thanks to the continuously variable transmission and innovative engine technologies like Variable Valve Timing and Valvematic. A key focus on performance was improving the CVT transmission. If you have had experience with the CVT before you understand it delivers a rubber band driving feel when you try to accelerate. To reduce this lag in performance, Toyota engineers redesigned the pulleys of the transmission to deliver brisk acceleration. Not only will this enhance performance, it reduces cabin noise as well. The C-HR is also the first SUV to feature the coaxial two-port oil pump. According to Toyota’s press release, this pump achieves continuous oil pressure modifications to adapt to different driving conditions. Overall, the SUV delivers smooth, composed performance that is sure to delight even the stingiest drivers.


Safety is arguably the most important component to examine when considering an SUV. Toyota understands this well as it loaded the C-HR with innovative features. The SUV comes with Toyota Safety Sense. This suite of safety technology includes the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Automatic Emergency Braking, Full-Speed Dynamic Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist and more. In addition to this comprehensive system, the SUV contains 10 standard airbags and Hill-Start Assist Control. If you choose the XLE Premium grade, you also gain access to the Rear Cross Traffic Alert feature. All told, this extensive selection of safety equipment places the C-HR above many of its competitors, who don’t offer the same number of standard features.


The 2018 Toyota C-HR will be one on the more expensive end of the subcompact segment. Toyota priced the XLE at $23,460 and the XLE Premium at $25,310. While more expensive than many of its counterparts, you also receive much more in the way of safety features too, making it a tradeoff well worth the price.

Our Take

It took Toyota some time to make its appearance in the subcompact market. The C-HR promises to be one of the most stylish models available, and with all the equipment it comes with, one of the most sought after too.  

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