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2019 Toyota C-HR

$21,145 - $26,200
Price Range (MSRP)
Toyota C-HR

2019 Toyota C-HR Test Drive Review: Won’t You Take Me To Funkytown?

by Gabe Beita Kiser

Cars are first and foremost a means of transportation, but that's a use that's overlooked and taken for granted now that many of us use them on a daily basis. The proliferation of the automobile has made it so that cars are now more than just transportation, they are means of expression, mediums used to convey something about the driver to anyone that happens to be nearby. And that fact of life has led automakers to build a class of expressive cars that can be considered "funky". The Scion xB, Chrysler PT Cruiser, and even the Pontiac Aztec are members of that clan, and though all three went out of production long ago, the soul of the funky car still lives on in such creatures as the Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Toyota C-HR. We spent a week driving the latter of those three to see if funk still has a place in the modern world.

Read in this review:

2019 Toyota C-HR Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 C-HR?

Toyota has gone about chopping and changing trim levels and standard features for 2019: The LE and Limited join the club for a total of three trim levels. The new LE replaces last year's base model but is priced $1,200 under last year's asking price and shares its infotainment system and active safety system with the rest of the range. Apple CarPlay is now standard across the range, and navigation becomes an optional extra. The new limited model features more premium touches such as full leather upholstery. Colors have also been updated, and some colors can be equipped with a contrasting black roof.

Pros and Cons

  • Striking design
  • Safety tech now standard across the range
  • Apple CarPlay compatibility
  • Standard eight-inch touchscreen
  • Cramped back seat
  • Cargo space is limited
  • Engines don't inspire confidence

C-HR Exterior

C-HR stands for Coupe - High Riding, which more or less describes the subcompact crossover SUV from Toyota. The C-HR's styling language is a massive departure from the demure and forgettable designs Toyota has been churning out over the last two decades, but the introduction of cars like the C-HR, Supra, and new Corolla has sparked a renaissance, and one can only hope that Toyota will stick to designing cars that genuinely excite the public and not just car rental companies. Standard exterior features on the 2019 C-HR include LED daytime running lights, heated and power-folding outside mirrors and a rear spoiler. Models higher up in the range get LED fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, and rain-sensing window wipers. The Limited pumps up the funk with red rear bumper garnish, a piano-black B-pillar, and model-specific chrome window surrounds.

2019 Toyota C-HR Front Angle View
2019 Toyota C-HR Front Angle View
2019 Toyota C-HR Front View
See All 2019 Toyota C-HR Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Staying true to its subcompact crossover SUV moniker, the C-HR sits higher than a regular hatchback or sedan; it measures 61.6 inches tall, but competitors like the Ford Ecosport and Honda HR-V take the SUV part more seriously, sitting almost five inches higher on average, while the C-HR's 5.9 inches of ground clearance is barely more than a regular family hatchback. The competition might be taller, but the C-HR is wider, giving it more planted look; its width is measured at 70.7 inches. Toyota's new crossover rolls on a 103.9-inch wheelbase and measures 171.2 inches in length, while curb weight for the C-HR comes in at 3,300 lbs; almost 300 pounds more than the featherweight EcoSport.

Exterior Colors

An exciting design deserves a compelling choice of paint colors, and Toyota has brought seven solid colors as well as five combinations called R-Code to the table, each complementing the C-HR, some more than others, it must be added. The standard range of colors consists of Blizzard Pearl, Silver Knockout Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Ruby Flare Pearl, Blue Eclipse Metallic, and the striking Blue Flame. The Code-R package changes things up by offering a two-tone paint job that colors the roof and side mirrors in a second shade. A Blue Eclipse car can be matched with a Blizzard Pearl roof and side mirrors, while the remainder of the color options aside from Black Sand and Magnetic Gray can be paired with black contrasting paint on the roof and side mirrors.

Of all the colors offered for the C-HR, including two-tone schemes that see the roof painted either black or white, Toyota sent us a Silver Knockout Metallic model with its roof painted a contrasting shade of black. Despite the implications of driving a heat-absorbing black roof during an Arizona summer, the fact this color scheme made the C-HR more palatable to those who aren't fans of "funky" cars made it the ideal choice who want this Toyota for its dimensions but don't want to rub its jazzy character in the noses of everybody else.

  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Silver Knockout Metallic
  • Black Sand Pearl
  • Ruby Flare Pearl
  • Blue Eclipse Metallic
  • Blizzard Pearl
  • Blue Flame
  • Blizzard Pearl w/Black Roof
  • Ruby Flare Pearl w/Black Roof
  • Silver Knockout Metallic w/Black Roof
  • Iceberg/Blue Eclipse Metallic
  • Blue Flame w/Black Roof

C-HR Performance

The C-HR isn't advertised as a power-crazed crossover, but there is a notable lack of gusto. Power comes courtesy of a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-pot with variable valve timing, which bucks the modern trend of utilizing small and efficient turbocharged engines that provide more low-down torque than their naturally aspirated counterparts. This engine is unique to the power-hungry American market and develops a not-so-earth-shattering 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, whereas the rest of the C-HR market gets a small 1.2 turbo engine or a 1.8-liter four-cylinder. Even with the large capacity engine, the C-HR can't manage to break under ten seconds to the 60 mph mark and feels lethargic in general; from pressing down on the gas pedal, to when the C-HR actually starts moving feels like a dog year, and does nothing to boost confidence when merging onto the freeway or taking a gap in traffic. Front-wheel-drive is the only drivetrain available here, and while most rivals rely on the same, some offer all-wheel-drive, too, like the Honda HR-V.

2019 Toyota C-HR Side View
2019 Toyota C-HR Rear Angle View
2019 Toyota C-HR Engine Bay

Engine and Transmission

The 2.0-liter engine found in the 2019 C-HR can only be found in the American version: the rest of the world makes do with smaller 1.2-liter turbo or 1.8-liter four-pots on their non-hybrid versions. The 2.0-liter unit manages to push out 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque which puts it on a backfoot when compared to its competition. Power is channeled through a CVT automatic transmission with artificial shift modes.

While the C-HR's 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine does its job well, it might disappoint performance or comfort-seekers. Although its 144 hp output feels underwhelming when a driver is in need of passing power or quick off-the-line acceleration, it revs cleanly and linearly, even if it does so noisily. While the CVT does its best to keep the engine in its power band when grunt is needed, it does exhibit many of the traditional CVT nuisances. The rubber band effect, where the engine revs hard upon initial throttle input and then subsides even when that input remains consistent, is present here, as is the monotone sound of a droning engine in the process. Still, power is adequate for the lifestyle that the C-HR is made for. Its powertrain enables fill-ups to avoid being financial disasters, and around town, this funky little Toyota feels no qualms about working its engine hard when it needs to. And thanks to Toyota reliability, doing so doesn't jeopardize the powertrain's lifespan.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

A downfall that many owners of "funky cars" endure is that the driving experience tends to take a back seat to the car's unconventional aesthetics. Thankfully, the C-HR does not follow that rule. Aside from the latency period between when the accelerator is pressed and when forward momentum begins, the C-HR is very easy to connect with, revealing the identity of the road through connected suspension and steering that skews slightly on the heavy side. While this Toyota is styled to look like a small crossover that has yet to hit its growth spurt, it handles much more like a sedan. Though the ride is neither overly comfortable nor aggressively dynamic, a driver is hardly ever left wanting more of either. The C-HR simply does the job it's been assigned to do and does it well, without complaints and with the reliability of a consistent worker. Given how that worker only requires a one-time salary of $22,000, the C-HR ends up delivering more goods than its starting price indicates even if it could do a better job of insulating the cabin from road noise.

C-HR Gas Mileage

Despite the more traditional choice of engine, the C-HR impresses with frugal gas mileage numbers. Toyota gives an EPA estimated a number of 27/31/29 mpg city/highway/combined, which is slightly less than what the HR-V offers, but better than what any EcoSport can grant, despite their wide range of turbo and naturally aspirated engines. With a fuel capacity of 13.2-gallons, the C-HR has an estimated range of 383 miles.

Even with a heavy throttle foot, it was hard to buck the C-HR from its fuel-saving ways. We managed an average of 28.1 mpg by the end of our week with Toyota's small funkmobile, just shy of its 29 mpg combined rating and in the window of its 27 mpg city rating and 31 mpg highway figure.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/31 mpg
* 2019 Toyota C-HR LE FWD

C-HR Interior

The interior of the 2019 Toyota C-HR is more city slick than offroad chic and is designed around the driver, with the few buttons present all being slightly angled towards the driver for ease of access. Standard interior features across the range include a 4.2-inch driver info display, a leather-trimmed shift lever, sporty bucket seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless access and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. It's spacious, too, despite the coupe-like looks that might lead some to believe this subcompact is a little small. Sure, you won't be ferrying a trio of NBA all-stars in the back seat, but the kids will be fine.

2019 Toyota C-HR Dashboard
2019 Toyota C-HR Dashboard
2019 Toyota C-HR Front Seats
See All 2019 Toyota C-HR Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Pedestrians looking at the C-HR might reasonably guess that the little car doesn't pack the largest interior out there, but only those who have ridden inside will know that Toyota does a decent job of making those cramped outside dimensions feel a lot bigger inside. That is, of course, unless you plan on getting into the back seat. Rear seat passengers are the sacrificial lambs in any C-HR ride given that they must make do with 31.7 inches of legroom as opposed to the front seat's 43.5 inches, but at least they get 0.2 extra inches of headroom over the front seat's 31.8 inches.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

One of the many talents Toyota has mastered over the years is the skill of building cars with high-quality interiors and selling them at thrift prices. The C-HR is no exception here. Even with black leather seats and interior pieces made of 50 shades of plastic, the interior feels well-put-together, as if it will withstand the test of time better than much of the competition. Patterned plastic and indented headliner help to bring some of the exterior's funky attitude inside the cabin, but aside from that the interior of the C-HR remains much tamer and more ergonomic than the exterior.

C-HR Trunk and Cargo Space

The striking exterior design of the 2019 Toyota C-HR might turn heads, but it struggles to fit them. The sloping design of the roofline and relatively short overhangs negatively affect the amount of available trunk space and cargo capacity in general. Space behind the rear seat measures 19 cubic feet; the competition puts this number to shame, but a hatchback liftgate helps to make the most of the space on offer. With the rear seats folded down, cargo space grows to 36.4 cubic feet; enough to fit three long-boards and a disassembled Segway. The Ford EcoSport offers 20.9 cubic feet behind the backseats and 50 with them folded down.

Small storage is average for the class: all the regular features such as cup holders, door pockets and a center armrest console are present, but Toyota's smart storage system is sadly missing.

2019 Toyota C-HR Trunk Space
2019 Toyota C-HR Trunk Space
2019 Toyota C-HR Trunk Space

C-HR Infotainment and Features

Features

For 2019 Toyota has included a series of new features as standard across the C-HR range which makes this funky crossover more appealing than ever. From the base model up the C-HR offers LED daytime LED running lights, heated and powered outside mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and keyless entry. Apple CarPlay is now a standard feature, and active driver assistance tech such as pre-collision warning, lane departure alert, and cruise control appear on all models. The XLE and Limited both get blind-spot monitoring and push-button start. The Limited adds rain-sensing window wipers; custom exterior appearance touches such as a piano black B-pillar and a leather interior with power-adjustable front seats.

Infotainment

In the infotainment hierarchy, the rule used to go something like this. The best and prettiest systems usually came from the German luxury automakers, next were the American car companies with systems that weren't quite seamless but far from infuriating, and in last place, ironically given the island nation's obsession with tech, came the Japanese automakers. Among the members of last place, Toyota and Nissan usually ranked at the very bottom. While the C-HR's eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system (which comes with Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto), isn't exactly the most user-friendly device out there, it elevates this Toyota out of last place. The layout is still clunky, but the touchscreen is responsive and the six-speaker Entune sound system does a good job of livening up the cabin.

C-HR Problems and Reliability

Since its launch in 2018, the C-HR has been subject to one recall which was issued on the 27th of March 2019. The recall was issued due to the rear axle bolts loosening, leading to potential damage to the brake system, and in extreme cases, rear wheels detaching from the car. Besides this issue, the C-HR has enjoyed a trouble-free career thus far, and J.D. Power has given the Toyota crossover a solid score of 79 for reliability. Toyota is known for producing some of the most reliable cars on the market, and a significant part of that is due to regular maintenance. The C-HR comes with a standard three-year/36,000 mile warranty which includes a five-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, a five-year/60,000 mile drivetrain warranty, two years of roadside assistance and a two-year/25,000 mile maintenance plan.

C-HR Safety

Simply put, the 2019 Toyota C-HR is a safe car. Despite losing out on a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, the C-HR still managed to score Good in most categories, with the only disappointing performance coming from the headlights, which scored poorly. The NHTSA gave the C-HR a full five out of five stars. The inclusion of standard active driver assistance features like pre-collision warning has surely contributed to its impressive overall performance.

Key Safety Features

2019 sees the introduction of a series of standard driver assistance features that bolster the C-HR's solid safety rating. From the base model upwards, the C-HR comes equipped with Toyota's Safety Sense active safety package which consists off a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assistance, automatic headlights and radar assisted cruise control, over and above these features, Toyota has made sure that traditional safety measures such as tire pressure monitoring, hill-start control, and ten airbags which consist of a driver and front passenger set, rear-seat mounted side airbags, driver knee airbag, and side curtain airbags.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Toyota C-HR a good SUV?

The downside to vehicles instilled with a unique and quirky character is that they tend to make many compromises on the drivability and livability end of things. Toyota attempts to cut down on that drastically by instilling the C-HR with its no-nonsense approach to building cars. Yes, there are still compromises. The C-HR's powertrain is underwhelming, the CVT coaxes out better fuel economy at the expense of driving fun, and space behind the front seats leaves plenty to be desired. But the C-HR succeeds where many of its brethren fail by cutting no corners in the areas that really count. The C-HR, like all other Toyotas, feels well-built. And though it's not meant for those who get joy behind the wheel, it delivers a more connected drive than it has any business doing. While it won't replace a sedan or crossover anytime soon, the C-HR is perfect for those who enjoy the way it looks and don't want to encounter any unpleasant surprises after driving it off the dealership lot.

What's the Price of the 2019 Toyota C-HR?

There's little separating the three models in terms of price: the base model, or LE as it's called, starts at an MSRP of $21,145 which is $1,150 more than the Ford EcoSport S FWD. The mid-range XLE costs $23,180, which is a bargain when compared to the choice of midrange models from Ford and Honda. At the top of the trim range, the Limited starts at $26,200 which puts it $1,410 under the EcoSport Titanium 4WD and a staggering $8,050 under the CR-V Touring AWD.

2019 Toyota C-HR Models

Toyota has kept things simple by only offering the C-HR in three trim levels, LE, XLE, and Limited, each with its own flavor and personality.

The LE represents the base model of the C-HR range and now comes standard with Apple CarPlay and a wide range of active driver assistance technology only found higher up in the range for most of the other competitors. The LE gets LED daytime running lights, heated and powered side mirrors, sport-fabric bucket seats, keyless entry, and a dual-zone climate control system. Infotainment is taken care of via an eight-inch touch screen system with a backup camera and Entune audio.

The XLE builds on this platform by adding 18-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot warning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and the optional Code-R paint treatment.

The top of the range Limited goes even further by including LED fog lights, rain-sensing window wipers, and exclusive exterior trimmings as well as leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LE
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$21,145
XLE
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,180
Limited
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,200
See All 2019 Toyota C-HR Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Aiding the customizability of the already funky C-HR, the R-Code paint treatment package allows new owners to opt for a two-tone color scheme that paints the roof and side mirrors in black or white and is only available on XLE and Limited models. There are no optional packages available on the base model, but the XLE is available with a $685 Entune Audio Plus package that adds advanced voice recognition, a Scout GPS link, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM and a three-year Wi-Fi trail with Horizon. The Limited gets the option of a $1,040 Premium Audio package which adds dynamic navigation over and above the XLE audio package.

What Toyota C-HR Model Should I Buy?

While the leather seats in our Premium-spec C-HR were nice, the only real upgrade this Toyota needs is the Vortex-styled 18-inch Sport Alloy wheels, which can be had on the cheaper XLE and range-topping Premium models. And given how the XLE comes loaded with dual-zone climate control, power-folding heated mirrors, Toyota's Safety Sense driver aid suite, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and keyless entry, it's the spec to choose despite the fact it comes with no leather seats. The only addition to make is the $685 Entune audio system and buyers end up with what's likely the most reliable and well-equipped funky car out there for only $24,800 including the $1,120 destination fee.

2019 Toyota C-HR Comparisons

2019 Toyota C-HR
2019 Toyota C-HR

2019 Toyota C-HR vs Ford EcoSport

With an asking price of only $19,995 in base form, the Ford offers an enticing package with the EcoSport. Powering the American crossover SUV is a 1.0-liter turbocharged inline three-cylinder engine producing 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque from 3500 rpm, but a 166 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit is available higher up in the range. The Ford is slightly heavier on fuel but by a small margin. Toyota's C-HR is over 300 pounds heavier than the Ford, and while both cars share similar exterior dimensions, the EcoSport offers much more trunk and overall cargo space. Handling is nimble and responsive; the EcoSport is a pleasure to drive, but can't match the C-HR in terms of driver assistance tech, and overall safety levels. The Ford is a more practical car but lacks the same levels of safety features and striking exterior design.

See Ford EcoSport Review

2019 Toyota C-HR vs Honda CR-V

Premium quality, comfort, and all-round capability come at a price, and this rings true with the 2019 Honda CR-V, which demands a $3,305 premium over the C-HR in base form but sits in a slightly higher class of vehicle. Honda offers two power plants: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder does duty in the base model and pushes out 166 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. In this configuration, the CR-V is good for 28 mpg combined. A 1.5-liter turbo engine as found in many of Honda's other products, including the Civic, produces 190 hp, 179 lb-ft of torque and is good for a combined 30 mpg. The CR-V shares a lot of its interior dimensions with the Toyota, but while the CR-V offers more rear-seat legroom, the Toyota offers more in the front. Where the Honda sets itself apart is trunk and cargo space: it absolutely destroys the C-HR with over 75 cubic feet of total space in comparison to the Toyota's 36.4. The Honda is also the safer car, scoring a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. Honda might ask a bit more for their compact crossover, but it offers more.

See Honda CR-V Review

Toyota C-HR Popular Comparisons

2019 Toyota C-HR Video Reviews