If you buy the 2019 Toyota C-HR, I’m guessing it will be because it is such a good-looking vehicle, kind of like an awesome Hot Wheels car, and not because it gave you chills to drive it. And I’m good with that. It really is a hot-looking car.
Let’s go ahead and list what’s not hot about the C-HR, and then we’ll get to what still makes this a pretty cool ride.
It’s not fast. Consumer Reports says they clocked it at 11 seconds to reach 60 mph. It’s got go-fast styling, but it has stay-in-your-lane performance. The powerplant is 2-liter, four-cylinder engine delivering 144 horsepower. The 2019 Corolla hatchback we reviewed earlier this year was also a 2-liter, but it offered 168 horses.
It’s not roomy. The letters C-HR stand for “compact high ride”, so they don’t promise roominess. Unfortunately, it fails my sit-behind-yourself test, so I wouldn’t recommend it for six-foot drivers with six-foot passengers. There’s plenty of headroom, surprisingly, but even little kids who ride with their legs sticking straight out will find the back seats uncomfortable if the front occupants push their seats back at all.
It’s not cheap. The C-HR Limited we reviewed started at $26K, but a list of extras brought our copy up to $29K. You can get a stripped-down, basic version for just north of $22K, but you can also choose from several less-expensive, roomier, quicker vehicles on the new car market. To be fair, though, the C-HR is right in there with the Honda HR-V on price and performance, and unsurprisingly this Toyota is much prettier. If you’re determined to get a sub-compact SUV/crossover kind of vehicle, you may as well grab yourself a C-HR.
Incidentally, you don’t get good visibility from the driver’s seat of the C-HR, either. The rear windows are victims of the super-awesome styling, and you will have large blind spots. This seems counter-intuitive for something posing as a sort of SUV.
So why do I still love this car?
It’s fun to drive. No, you’re not going to beat anyone off the line, but it does handle well, and strangely it is even fun to drive through a parking lot. And that means it’s a good cruising car. (Do kids still “go cruising”?) Other than needing a sunroof, this is the car you want to take cruising on summer vacation to the beach. Just make sure you pack light (remember you have limited storage) and don’t accidentally drive it on the beach. You’ll be calling a tow truck, because the C-HR doesn’t have an all-wheel-drive option.
It sounds great. Some vehicles because of the way they are designed physically limit the performance of their sound systems, even if they’re blessed with the factory’s top-of-the-line option. The C-HR we reviewed sounded amazing, which surprised me. It only has a six-speaker system, but it really kicked, and it projected a good, strong range of sound.
It looks amazing. I know I already mentioned this, but you really have to see the C-HR in person to appreciate how sharp it looks. The low-profile tires on 18-inch wheels adds to the big toy persona.
The C-HR was originally designed to join the cool-kid Scion lineup, but when parent company Toyota shut down Scion, the C-HR in development became a Toyota product. It has been on the market for around two years now.
[Danny Harrison is a veteran journalist who cut his teeth in the newspaper industry in 1995. He is the public relations specialist for a bustling municipality just south of Atlanta, but he still enjoys writing news features and reviews in his personal time. He is an active member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association. He and his wife have five children, all of whom fancy themselves to be automobile critics.]