The Toyota C-HR Is Coming To LA: Will It Be More Than Just A Jacked-Up Prius?

2016 LA Auto Show

If the manual makes it stateside then the answer is yes.

We last saw the Toyota C-HR at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. There we spoke to Hiroyuki Koba, the car’s chief engineer, and he gave us a few reasons why we should care about the new crossover. After our chat we became convinced that, if nothing else, the C-HR would be fun to drive as far as CUVs are concerned. We also learned that it would be unveiled before the year’s end. It wasn’t tough to guess that the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show would be where it hit, and Toyota has just confirmed our suspicion.

The 2018 C-HR will be shown during the show’s second press day, Thursday November 18th. We don’t expect a lot, if anything, to have changed from the car we saw in Europe. Sure, the diesel engines will be gone but the design should remain the same. A CVT should be on offer, but we’re crossing our fingers that Toyota’s Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT) and its automatic rev matching survives the trip across the Atlantic. Americans aren’t major fans of manuals, but Koba-san designed the C-HR with driving in mind. Hopefully he’s able to convince the bean counters that it’s better for business if Toyota’s new crossover is both fun to drive and look at.

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Speaking of looks, the C-HR’s US design is likely not finalized as the model announced was a 2018. 2017s just started rolling off the line so that gives the Japanese automaker a bit of time to tweak the crossover’s look just a bit. It also gives them time to decide what engines will be under the hood. Europeans will be getting a 1.2-liter turbo and a 1.8-liter hybrid setup. The latter sounds like it would make for a fine economical choice, especially when paired to a CVT. The turbocharged 1.2-liter unit isn’t even offered in the US. Toyota could always drop in the 137-horsepower 1.8-liter four-banger from the Corolla iM, formerly the Scion iM, into its new compact crossover.

However, that would put it down significantly on power against the Nissan Juke with which it's destined to be compared to (188 horses from a 1.6-liter direct-inject turbo-four). There’s always Toyota's 2.5-liter four-cylinder (178 hp) but that engine seems a bit too large for the C-HR. We’re cautiously optimistic that the new Toyota C-HR could be a quirky-looking and fun-to-drive crossover like the Nissan Juke that birthed it. Hopefully Toyota doesn’t chicken out and make it just a jacked-up Prius.

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