The automaker is decided to play it safe with its new "cool" car.
At the 2016 Paris Motor Show we had the chance to sit down with Hiro Koba, chief engineer for the all-new Toyota C-HR (Coupe High-Rider) crossover. During our talk we became convinced that the new CUV actually had a shot at being fun to drive, what with its rev-matching manual transmission and the fact that it was developed out on the Nurburgring. At the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show Toyota took the wraps off the American-spec 2018 C-HR. Let’s just say that we are disappointed but not surprised.
Powering the latest entrant into the quirky crossover segment is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 144 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. That’s the only engine on offer, and it’s mated to a CVT, the only transmission on offer. FWD is standard with AWD not available, at least not now. It does offer a Sport mode that allows drivers to shift through seven simulated gears. Normally we’d take the glass-half-full approach here, but we really wanted to see Toyota’s Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT) make it stateside. IMT offers automatic rev matching on both downshifts and upshifts. The take rate would have been low, we know, but as it stands the C-HR seems a bit underpowered.
The Nissan Juke, the car the Toyota C-HR is destined to forever be compared to, makes 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque in its base trim. At the end of the day, though, power figures matter more to the media than the average consumer. The new C-HR will be reliable and fuel efficient. Those sitting in back may be a bit cramped but the folks up front will have a sweet new 7.0-inch infotainment system to play with. Driver assistance aids include Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and radar cruise control, the latter of which is a segment first. And, as much as we hate to admit it, the C-HR may be fun to drive. You know what they say: It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow.
That old adage is especially true when said slow car’s suspension was honed on world famous race tracks. The C-HR will hit showrooms in the spring of 2017. Pricing wasn’t announced but the current “baby” Toyota SUV is the Rav4, which bases at $24,910. Obviously the C-HR will be a bit cheaper than that, but by how much remains to be seen.