2019 Toyota C-HR

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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:

  • Exterior Design 9 /10
  • Performance 6 /10
  • Fuel Economy 6 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 5 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 6 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
7.4
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2019 Toyota C-HR Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 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

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.

Best Deals on 2019 Toyota C-HR

2019 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
$21,145
XLE
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,180
Limited
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,200
See All 2019 Toyota C-HR Trims and Specs

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.

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 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

Ford EcoSport Ford
Honda CR-V Honda

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
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