19 Sep 2017

2017 Toyota C-HR

Toyota has a long history of making some amazing vehicles that present solid transportation, good fuel economy, and incredible reliability. Pick any vehicle in their lineup and you will find a vehicle that is generally top of its class compared to the competition.

The new C-HR is clearly filling a void in the lineup to compete with vehicles like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V, small subcompact crossover, light SUV vehicles. I could add more description to the list but I think you get the idea – it does a lot of things. The unique styling is far better than the Juke which appears, while frankly, to be the worst looking car on the planet today. But because of the vehicle’s versatility and today’s youth’s unique perspective on design, the car still has a following.In contrast, the C-HR is far more contemporary and will appeal to a wide range of buyers looking for a small, easy to maneuver

In contrast, the C-HR is far more contemporary and will appeal to a wide range of buyers looking for a small, easy to maneuver vehicle with room for four and a place to put your stuff be it when camping or just long-term “storage.” What stands out for many is the high grab rear passenger door latch release that is uniquely placed on the top edge of the window. It blends nicely with the roofline and once mastered, it works fine. All other doors are more conventional and have a light touch.

In terms of content, the C-HR shines with some amazing high-level features including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist/lane-departure warning, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel and shifter knob along with some very cool projector-beam headlights that work well with the angular body design. A huge (by comparison) 7-inch touch screen is used to control all communication and entertainment devices along with navigation when requested. Interestingly, the backup camera does not appear on this screen but as a portion of the rearview mirror – some training is required before adjusting to the new location.

Dependent on the trim level you select, XLE or the XLE Premium (which are only about $1500 apart for the basic appointments) there are some pleasant surprises that are part of the package. Highlighting the upscale Premium package is blind spot monitoring, fog lights, proximity key entry (so that door opens when you approach) vanity mirrors and heated cloth seats. Lights in the side mirrors project the C-HR logo on the ground as you enter the car – a classy touch.

The CarPlay program continues to challenge drivers and can become a distraction until some semblance of skill is achieved – and then sometimes not even then.  The CarPlay locks out many of the standard functions of the system requiring the driver to unplug the phone to reset the operation. More and more folks are disabling the CarPlay function, something we learned how to do from a YouTube video – yes, it’s that annoying. In all the cars I have driven, I have never been completely happy with this interface.

Interior seating is typical Toyota, meaning very comfortable for long-haul transport. The gauges are cleanly displayed and the adjustment of information is easy to complete once you know the layout. Seating in the back is adequate for the room allotted in terms of legs and knees, but headroom is limited. Rear space for luggage or other stuff is decent but not best in class.  For most, it will be more than enough.

What won’t surprise many is the fact that the C-HR rides on the same chassis as the Prius – and should find its way under the next generation Corolla. The 1.2-liter, 144hp engine is transversely mounted underhood and mates to a constantly variable transmission (CVT) that generates slightly over 31 MPG as an average for our testing cycle. Not quick off the line, the CVT trans was often rather noisy and challenged to achieve even highway on-ramp speeds, a fact verified by the 139 lb-ft peak torque rating. At 3288-pound curb weight, that’s a tall order. A turbo assist would certainly be nice here.

Featuring a stop front strut suspension and a multi-link system in the rear, the electrically-assisted rack and pinion steering are smooth and fairly quick, especially in tight awkward radius maneuvers. Braking is excellent with ABS-aided solid disc brakes around. For the average driver, they will have more than their share of controls to get where they need safely and efficiently.

The new C-HR is a quirky small crossover that will appeal to a youthful buyer looking for reliable and efficient transportation. With stylish alloy wheels, high belt light design and highly angular design, the new C-HR fits in with the elements many buyers need – plus a price tag that makes it a great first new car buy for many – or those looking for a break from the conventional crossover styling.




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