Entry price: $21,145
Price as tested: $25,254
This week, we’re driving a 2019 Toyota C-HR, an entry added to the Toyota lineup last year. Listed as a compact by the EPA, major competition comes from the Kia Soul, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Kicks, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Trax and Mazda CX-3, all formidable competitors.
The C-HR came to life when Toyota discontinued its lower priced Scion models and then re-badged them and moved them into the Toyota family of vehicles.
This realignment results in many positives and a few negatives when discussing the C-HR that Toyota lists as one of its crossover models.
First the positives, and specifically one big one: Price.
Scion was noted for low retail prices and these new Toyota C-HR models follow that winning premise. Unlike 2018, three C-HRs are available for 2019 as Toyota adds a lower cost entry C-HR LE trim that starts at just $21,145. Following are carryovers from ’18 ala the XLE model at $22,980 and then the upscale XLE Premium, which adds more amenities and starts at $26,200.
One thing I like about C-HR is its handling. Thanks to standard 18-inch tires on nice alloy wheels, there wasn’t a turn or corner the little Toyota didn’t like. Cruising was comfortable, too, although there is more than the usual road and engine noise common to these lower-priced smaller car models. But overall, and thanks to well built underpinnings, lots of safety features and good ABS 4-wheel disc brakes, this little car is fun to drive and easy to park.
Another positive is an infotainment upgrade. Toyota previously used the lower grade stereo/info 6-speaker system on its Scion models. Although the current system on our XLE is still 6-speakers, Apple CarPlay is now standard across the line whereas last year it was not offered. Toyota also brings over its respected Entune 3.0 Audio with App system to replace the dated Scion info system.
And you Android users? Sorry, you’re still out of luck as for whatever reason, Toyota decides to only offer Apple CarPlay at this point with the C-HR.
The only other negative in my opinion is the CVT automatic transmission. I’m just not sold on them and haven’t been since introduced in other manufacturer vehicles. It’s a personal thing with me, and I hope the Toyota CVT is better than some of its competitor’s CVTs when it comes to proper operation once a car gets over 75,000 miles on it.
Sans those few negatives, C-HR is a pretty neat looking vehicle that mimics a two-door although it is indeed a four-door. The C-HR nomenclature stands for “Coupe High Rider” as the layout is both sporty and “high” and the ground clearance is generous while the overall motif is somewhat like a coupe thanks to the rear door handles hidden high into the rear door roof area. You really have to look closely to see them.
Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine mates to the aforementioned CVT automatic and is the only drivetrain combo available.
For me, I did get used to the CVT and its “Sport/Normal/Eco” mode selects, but I’d sure like to see a 6-speed manual or even a lowly 4-speed automatic behind this engine for more peppy results. As for acceleration, expect zero to 60 mph in about 10.5 to 11 seconds, which is nowadays not a time to brag about. Fuel mileage, however, delivers EPA estimates of 27 city and 31 highway, both competitive in this growing subcompact to compact crossover classification.
Now for really good news on Toyota C-HR.
C-HR XLE comes packed with standard safety features, meaning you don’t need to spend a few thousand more on the XLE and XLE Premium models to receive the uppermost in modern safety protection. Toyota’s standard Safety Sense package delivers pre-collision and pedestrian detection, 10 airbags, lane departure warning, lane keep assistance, daytime running lamps, automatic high beams and automatic emergency braking. The C-HR also receives adaptive cruise control and the rear safety camera view is now delivered through the Entune 8.0-inch display screen. The only safety item the entry LE does not have is the rear cross traffic blind spot monitor, but most drivers can live without it considering that all the other high tech safety equipment is standard.
More standard fare includes dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, nice bucket seats and a cargo cover. Our tester came in at a final retail of just $25,254 when adding special paint protection film for $395; all weather floor mats for $149; Entune 3.0 audio upgrade for $695; and delivery of $1,045. Overall, it’s a great value for a Toyota compact crossover loaded with safety.
If you opt for the XLE Premium, you’ll receive leather seats, rain-sense windshield wipers, the 3.0 Audio Plus package and more. Your Toyota dealer will gladly explain all trims when you visit.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.9-inches, 3,300-pound curb weight, 17.1-ft. turning radius, 5.9-inch ground clearance, from 19.0 to 36.4-cu. ft. of cargo space and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
Toyota C-HR currently comes only in front-drive format, although in the future an AWD would be a smart move and maybe even a turbo for more power. Still, it’s an excellent little, safety inspired, sporty looking car from Toyota and worthy of a close look if shopping this segment.
Matter of fact, it would be a great choice for a youngster’s first ever new car. Just make sure their cell phone is an Apple, not an Android.
Likes: Excellent value, lots of safety equipment, good looks.
Dislikes: Android compatibility unavailable, noisy under full throttle, needs more power.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2019 Toyota C-HR XLE
Entry price: $21,145