2021 Toyota C-HR

2021 Toyota C-HR Review: Form Over Function

Even within the more rational proportion of the population, few would deny that purchasing a new vehicle can be an emotionally-charged decision, a reality that the Toyota C-HR wants to take advantage of. Walk up to this oddball concoction of hatchback/crossover/coupe, and it's hard not to warm to its quirky, bold styling. Paired with that trusty Toyota badge, first impressions are strong. Unfortunately, the C-HR is saddled with an asthmatic 144-horsepower engine that fails to complement the crossover's sporty handling. There are more issues, such as a noisy cabin and limited cargo space. These shortcomings are thrust into the spotlight when measured alongside more balanced rivals in the US like the Honda HR-V and Kia Soul. As a fashion accessory, the C-HR works well, but it needs more polish to compete with the top competitors in this segment.

Read in this review:

2021 Toyota C-HR Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 C-HR?

For 2021, the main change that Toyota has made to the C-HR range is the addition of a new trim called the Nightshade Edition. This sporty model comes with black 18-inch alloy wheels, a black chin spoiler, black badges, and other black details to set it apart. Elsewhere, the range receives new color choices like Oxide Bronze with a black roof, but other shades like Hot Lava and Knockout Silver Metallic have been discontinued. The new Toyota C-HR now ships with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 safety suite; this includes features like dynamic radar cruise control and lane departure alert.

Pros and Cons

  • Funky styling
  • Responsive handling
  • Many standard convenience and safety features
  • Toyota badge adds peace of mind
  • Logical ergonomics
  • Underpowered engine
  • Noisy cabin
  • Cramped rear seating
  • Smaller cargo area than most
  • All-wheel drive isn't offered

Best Deals on C-HR

2021 Toyota C-HR Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LE
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$21,595
XLE
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,630
Nightshade
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,395
Limited
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,650

C-HR Exterior

In a corner of the market filled with younger shoppers, aesthetics matter. In this regard, the C-HR has plenty of appeal. Even though it looks unusual from some angles, such as the rear three-quarter view, elements like the elevated rear door handles, steeply angled rear window, and bulbous fenders give it a unique identity. The base model rides on rather ordinary 17-inch steel wheels, but other models have more appealing 18-inch alloy wheels. Multi-reflector LED headlights are standard on lower trims while pricier variants get LED projector headlights. A black chin spoiler and various other black elements distinguish the Nightshade Edition.

2021 Toyota C-HR Front View Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Rearward Vision Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Front Angle View Toyota
See All 2021 Toyota C-HR Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Toyota C-HR is small, but it's not quite as tiny as the Mazda CX-3. For instance, the C-HR is 4.3 inches longer and 1.1 inches broader than its fellow Japanese counterpart. Key dimensions for the Toyota include a height of 61.6 inches, a width of 70.7 inches, a length of 172.6 inches, and a 103.9-inch wheelbase. Off-roading isn't in the C-HR's repertoire, a point emphasized by its 5.9 inches of ground clearance. The Toyota's curb weight is pegged at 3,300 pounds, making it around 300 lbs heavier than the AWD version of the CX-3.

  • Length 172.6 in
  • Wheelbase 103.9 in
  • Height 61.6 in
  • Max Width 70.7 in
  • Front Width 61.0 in
  • Rear Width 61.0 in
  • Curb Weight 3,300.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

Toyota has mixed up the C-HR's color palette this year, dispensing with a few shades like Knockout Silver Metallic and Hot Lava. On the base LE, Supersonic Red and Blue Eclipse are no longer available. Instead, this trim can be painted in Oxide Bronze, Black Sand Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, or Blizzard Pearl, which is the only added-cost color at $425. Moving up to the XLE adds Blue Eclipse Metallic and Supersonic Red ($425), while the Limited introduces a range of two-tone colors with a contrast roof. These include Blizzard Pearl with a Black roof ($425), Oxide Bronze with a Black roof, and Black Sand Pearl with a Knockout Metallic roof. The new Nightshade Edition only offers a choice of four colors but can also be had with a different roof color, such as Supersonic Red with a Black roof.

  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Black Sand Pearl
  • Bronze Oxide
  • Blizzard Pearl
  • Blue Eclipse Metallic
  • Supersonic Red
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic w/Black Roof
  • Blizzard Pearl w/Black Roof
  • Supersonic Red w/Black Roof
  • Black Sand Pearl w/Silver Roof
  • Blue Eclipse Metallic w/Black Roof

C-HR Performance

Even within a segment where rapid acceleration is hard to come by, the Toyota C-HR disappoints. All versions are powered by a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine with meager outputs of just 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. The default continuously variable transmission (CVT) can't do much to alleviate the dearth of power, and the end result is that the C-HR strolls from 0 to 60 mph in around 11 seconds, based on independent tests. The front-wheel-drive Honda HR-V shaves over two seconds off that time, and even with all-wheel drive, the Honda is quicker. The Hyundai Kona is even quicker; when equipped with an available turbocharged engine, the Kona will hit 60 mph in under 6.5 seconds. Both of these competitors offer AWD, whereas the C-HR exclusively powers its front wheels. Like many rivals, though, the Toyota C-HR isn't rated for towing.

2021 Toyota C-HR Front View Driving Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Rear-Facing View Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Rim Toyota

Engine and Transmission

Every C-HR model comes with the same powertrain. A 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine almost reluctantly churns out 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque, and it comes paired with a CVT transmission. As is often the case with smaller vehicles, the powertrain's shortcomings are partially masked in city driving, where the C-HR scampers around reasonably well. Its compact size heightens the impression that you're making decent progress. But once on the highway, the lack of grunt is immediately noticeable and a firmly planted right foot is required to merge safely or overtake slower traffic, as we found on our test drive. The need to rev out the engine emphasizes that it isn't a particularly refined unit, either, while the CVT highlights the drone from the four-pot. A manual transmission and a turbocharged engine would do wonders to improve the driving appeal of the C-HR.

  • Engine
    2.0L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The C-HR's powertrain is even more disappointing when you get to the first corner and realize that this is a properly sporty crossover with excellent handling characteristics that would've been a great deal more fun had there been a turbocharged engine available. The steering responds quickly, isn't completely muted in terms of feel, and when combined with minimal body roll, the C-HR finally puts in an effort that matches its striking appearance. Grip levels are not that high, but because you will rarely be going that quickly anyway, this isn't a massive concern. Adding to the crossover's spread of talents are confidence-inspiring brakes that are easy to modulate.

In most situations, the little Toyota rides comfortably and smoothes out everyday bumps and ruts. Together with comfortable seats, it puts in a good showing. However, road noise is prevalent and together with the strained four-pot, this disrupts the calm inside the cabin and doesn't encourage the driver to hit the top legal speed. Overall, the C-HR's road manners are acceptable rather than great, but you'll be happier behind the wheel of the Mazda CX-3.

C-HR Gas Mileage

Sometimes, an uninspiring engine will redeem itself with stellar fuel efficiency. However, the Toyota C-HR is merely average for the class in this respect. The C-HR returns EPA-rated figures of 27/31/29 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. When the 13.2-gallon gas tank is full, you can expect a range of approximately 383 miles in a combination of city and highway driving. By comparison, the Kia Soul can attain 29/35/31 mpg and the Mazda CX-3 is also better with estimates of 29/34/31 mpg.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/31 mpg
* 2021 Toyota C-HR LE FWD

C-HR Interior

On the plus side, Toyota has created a youthful cabin that has just as much personality as the bold exterior. The center section is gently angled towards the driver and, for the most part, it's all easy enough to fathom. Although the various fixtures and fittings don't feel as premium as they do in the Mazda CX-3, the cabin should prove to be durable in the long run. All models come with remote keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite with technologies such as dynamic radar cruise control and a pre-collision system. An eight-inch touchscreen interface is common to the lineup, while leather-trimmed seats with a power-adjustable driver's seat are offered.

2021 Toyota C-HR Interior Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Driver Seat Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Dashboard Toyota
See All 2021 Toyota C-HR Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Although technically labeled as a five-seater, our review of the Toyota C-HR revealed that it's much better to think of this as a four-seater. The crossover has a good amount of leg- and headroom for the driver and front-seat passenger, but at the back, occupants over six-feet tall will find their heads making contact with the roof. You can blame the sloping roofline for that. Rear-seat legroom is acceptable rather than great, but three adults at the back will struggle with the shoulder room as the body simply isn't that wide. More positively, the seats themselves are comfortable on all models, with six-way manually-adjustable front seats making way for a power-adjustable driver's seat higher up in the range. Ingress and egress pose no issues and outward visibility is good, besides the rear headrests which partially block the view out.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 43.5 in
  • Front Head Room 38.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 31.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.3 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The base LE is the only version that comes with a urethane-trimmed steering wheel, with models above this using a leather-wrapped steering wheel. However, all models enjoy a leather-trimmed shift lever with a satin-plated shift knob. The entry-level model makes do with black fabric seats, while the XLE has the same with blue trim. The only version to get leather-upholstered seats is the Limited, but once again, customers are restricted to a black color scheme.

C-HR Trunk and Cargo Space

As far as SUVs go, the Toyota C-HR can only do so much with its compact dimensions and emphasis on style. Behind the rear seats, it offers 19.1 cubic feet of volume, which is sufficient for everyday needs, but the available space won't earn any rave reviews and falls short of the competition. For instance, the Honda HR-V offers a more generous 24.3 cubes with the rear seats in their usual position. With the C-HR's 60/40-split-folding seats lying flat, a more useful 37 cubes of space is freed up, but this still can't come close to rivals like the Honda HR-V which offers over 20 cubes more with its rear seats folded.

Interior storage space for smaller items is pretty good, with a deep center console, door compartments in front, a well-sized glove box, two cupholders in front, and two bottle holders at the back. Most trims also have seatback map pockets.

2021 Toyota C-HR Trunk Space Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Rear View Toyota
2021 Toyota C-HR Right Side View Toyota

C-HR Infotainment and Features

Features

Toyota has been quite generous with the C-HR's spread of convenience and safety items. The base LE includes features like dual-zone automatic climate control, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, six-way adjustable front seats, remote keyless entry, and heated outside mirrors. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite incorporates pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist. Of course, a rearview camera is included as required by law. Further up in the range, the C-HR offers an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, push-button ignition, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Infotainment

Toyota's default infotainment setup is easy to use and employs an eight-inch touchscreen interface which is prominently positioned high up and in the center of the dashboard for improved visibility. It is linked to features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a USB media port, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and SiriusXM with a three-month all-access trial subscription. Wi-Fi Connect is offered with two GB of data within a three-month trial period. The sound system employs six speakers. HD Radio is available as an option as part of the Audio Plus upgrade, but only on the top three trims.

C-HR Problems and Reliability

Although the 2021 Toyota C-HR has not been recalled for any problems so far, the 2020 version was recalled for an issue where the rear seat belt may not properly restrain occupants in the event of an accident. The same recall applied to 2019 versions, along with two additional recalls for these models due to a non-permanent text on the load capacity label, and rear axle bearing bolts that weren't sufficiently tightened. According to J.D. Power, the Toyota C-HR has a strong rating of 85 out of 100, indicating a generally positive ownership experience and a solid reliability record.

The C-HR's warranty is nothing to write home about. A three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty pales in comparison to what Kia offers for the Soul. Toyota includes a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and corrosion perforation coverage for five years regardless of mileage. The ToyotaCare plan is welcome, though, with two years or 25,000 miles of coverage for scheduled maintenance.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

2021 C-HR Safety

Over at the NHTSA, the 2021 Toyota C-HR SUV only holds safety ratings for the front crash (five stars) and the rollover test (four stars). However, the 2020 model attained a full five-star safety rating. At the IIHS, the 2020 C-HR missed out on the agency's Top Safety Pick award but still racked up a maximum Good rating in all crashworthiness tests, although the headlights on some trims were, disappointingly, rated as Poor.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The C-HR is well-stocked with passive and active safety systems. The base price will get you a comprehensive suite of ten airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions. Other inclusions are vehicle stability control, brake assist, traction control, a rearview camera, and hill-start assist. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite comprises a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, road sign assist, and lane tracing assist. Other than the LE, all derivatives are equipped with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Toyota C-HR a good car?

"Toyota" and "sensible" are usually two words that sit comfortably alongside each other, but it's doubtful whether this is the case with the C-HR. While it is far from a terrible crossover, competitors like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Kia Soul come across as more well-rounded products. Holding the C-HR back is its comparatively small trunk, limited rear-seat space, and an engine that simply doesn't have the go to match the show. The C-HR is not without its merits, though. It's one of the most flamboyantly styled small crossovers around and it handles well, both attributes that will find favor with a younger audience. It's also crammed with modern safety features. If you don't need lots of space and spend most of your time covering short distances in the city, the C-HR will serve your needs adequately, but others in this segment simply tick more boxes.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Toyota C-HR?

In the USA, the 2021 Toyota C-HR has a starting MSRP of $21,445 for the entry-level LE, increasing to $23,480 for the XLE and $24,245 for the Nightshade Edition. The priciest Limited Toyota C-HR will cost $26,500. These prices are exclusive of tax, licensing, and registration costs, along with a destination charge of $1,175. By comparison, the Honda HR-V begins at $21,020, just below the Toyota C-HR price point.

New Toyota C-HR Models

This year, the Toyota C-HR is offered in a choice of four trim levels: LE, XLE, Nightshade Edition, and Limited. All configurations are powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with outputs of 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, and power is routed to the front wheels via a CVT transmission.

The base model LE comes with multi-reflector LED headlights, a color-keyed rear spoiler, and basic 17-inch steel wheels. Inside, it features dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, fabric upholstery, and an eight-inch touchscreen interface with a six-speaker sound system. As part of the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite, this variant starts off with a pre-collision system, dynamic radar cruise control, and lane departure warning.

Upgrading to the XLE will add 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, push-button ignition, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The new Nightshade Edition sports a black chin spoiler and darkened exterior trim, along with black badging. Its 18-inch wheels are also coated in a black finish.

Finally, there is the Limited with the best specs available in the lineup. It boasts LED projector headlights, LED fog lights, and turbine-styled 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside, this version has leather-upholstered seats with an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

See All 2021 Toyota C-HR Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The base LE offers very little scope for customization, with the most significant upgrade being 17-inch alloy wheels for an extra $365, a box we'd be happy to tick. Other than this, a TRD air intake for improved airflow and output costs $395 - anything that can improve the C-HR's performance seems like a good bet. Another performance upgrade comes via lowering springs for a cost of $265. The Audio Plus package costs $465 and is offered on the top three trims, but it only adds HD Radio.

🚗What Toyota C-HR Model Should I Buy?

The Toyota C-HR isn't a luxury vehicle and value for money remains an important aspect within this segment, so for this reason we'd rule out the Limited. And, although the Nightshade Edition looks quite sporty, it doesn't offer many tangible benefits, considering the price increase. Therefore, we'd recommend sticking with the base LE and going for the alloy wheel upgrade so that it looks a bit more premium. This will still save you over $1,500 compared to the next model in the lineup, the XLE.

2021 Toyota C-HR Comparisons

Toyota RAV4 Toyota
Honda HR-V Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota C-HR144 hp27/31 mpg$21,595
Toyota RAV4 203 hp27/35 mpg$26,250
Honda HR-V 141 hp28/34 mpg$21,220

2021 Toyota C-HR vs Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is one of the best-selling crossovers in North America and for good reason. It's spacious, comes with many standard features, and has a solid reputation. Although not nearly as funkily styled as the C-HR, the RAV4 is significantly larger. Over eight inches of added body length means that the RAV4 has much more space for rear-seat passengers and a trunk that is close to double the size of the C-HR's. The RAV4 is no ball of fire but its bigger 2.5-liter engine means it can tow over 3,500 lbs, as well as being quicker than the lazy C-HR. Plus, the RAV4 has better ground clearance and available AWD. Although the C-HR is more fun to drive, the RAV4 is far more refined. Starting at $26,050, the RAV4 is obviously more expensive, but if you can stretch to it, it's the better SUV by a wide margin.

See Toyota RAV4 Review

2021 Toyota C-HR vs Honda HR-V

Although the Toyota C-HR makes more of a statement with its outlandish design, the Honda HR-V is an attractive subcompact crossover that has a lot more to offer than initially meets the eye. For starters, it's a much more practical proposition than the C-HR as the Honda offers more rear legroom and far more space for luggage, whether the back seats are upright or folded. Both vehicles pair rather noisy four-cylinder engines with a CVT transmission, but although the HR-V has inferior outputs of 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque (144 hp/139 lb-ft for the C-HR), it's the Honda that accelerates with more urgency. Much of this comes down to the fact that the HR-V is the lighter crossover, even in available AWD guise, whereas the Toyota only powers the front wheels. Dynamically, it's the Toyota that has the edge with its more composed handling, but despite this, the more demure Honda comes out on top in this battle.

See Honda HR-V Review

Toyota C-HR Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Toyota C-HR:

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$21,595 - $26,650
Price Range (MSRP)
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