Drive Time: New Toyota C-HR is so quirky, so interesting
September 1, 2017
Meet the Toyota C-HR, an all-new car on the U.S. market, an '18 model, quirky as can be, yet it has drawn all sorts of interest in my drives about town this week.
It's considered a subcompact sport utility vehicle, yet it offers no all-wheel-drive option, only front-drive.
To further shake a traditionalist, Toyota says the C-HR naming is for Coupe High-Rider. Coupe? It's got four doors, even though the handles for the rear doors are hidden up high in the C pillar near the roofline.
Can the oddball trekker from Turkey, one that was actually created to be a Scion, become an added hit for the Japanese maker Toyota? A year ago, with the C-HR still in conceptual stage, Toyota killed its Scion youth division, then directed the new "coupe" to its powerful stable.
The C-HR is built in a Toyota assembly plant in Sakarya, Turkey, and, yes, there are other car-production factories in Turkey.
A bright exterior finish, "iceberg/radiant green with white top," is an eyecatcher, along with the funky style at the SUV's rear – where a spoiler overhangs a lightly sloped rear window and bulky looking hatch.
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The car's bright finish and nontraditional styling attracted comments wherever I parked it. Not all "old guys" liked it. The younger crowd, though, was most favorable. Even my two 11-year-old great-granddaughters, Lenna and Claire, one evening at our home walked right past a beautiful new Audi, red, to the C-HR and became unexpectedly ecstatic. One "loved it." The other said, "this is really what I want someday."
For its style, the Toyota probably competes most closely with the Nissan Juke. Among others in the subcompact field, though, are the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mini Countryman, Fiat 500X. To be competitive in Colorado, I would think the Toyota will be forced to add an AWD option, which the others already have.
Wheelbase for the C-HR is 103.9 inches, with overall length of 171.2, width 70.7 and height 61.6. Its track is a narrow 60 inches and ground clearance only 5.9 inches. Curb weight around 3,300 pounds is a couple hundred heavier than most competitive models.
With a 141-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission, acceleration is somewhat slow off the line, then comes on stronger through midrange. The ride is good and handling is impressive, with little body lean. A steering-assist system lightly guides the car back into its lane if it wanders near the striping. Front struts and double wishbone rear make up the suspension. It rides on Dunlop Sport 225/50R 18 tires.
With a 55/45 split of highway/city driving, the C-HR averaged 26.9 miles per gallon. Its EPA estimate is 27/31.
Front seats are supportive and comfortable; the rear seating area offers good headroom, though legroom and footroom are tight. A tablet holder ($99 option) is mounted to the back of the front passenger headrest for use by a rear-seat occupant. Cargo space under the rear hatch is 19 cubic feet, which expands to 36.4 feet with the rear seats folded.
The C-HR XLE carries sticker price of $25,364, which includes hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-window wiper and defogger, electric power-assisted steering, 7-inch touchscreen display for audio. It had no satellite radio.
— Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.