Around the world, the Corolla has been one of Toyota’s best-selling vehicles, with nearly 50 million sold since its inception. Although sales in the United States remain strong, they have been slowly declining because of Americans’ insatiable appetite for vehicles that look like SUVs.
The Toyota C-HR, which stands is for Coupe High Riding, is only front-wheel drive, so it’s not ready for off-roading. But with its raised stance and cool looks, the C-HR is the perfect choice for the first-time new car buyer who is looking for something, well, less boring than the Corolla.
The C-HR has the trendy looks today’s buyers want coupled with Toyota reliability and build quality. Additionally, it can be more practical than the Corolla because it offers the ability to flip down the rear seats and expand the cargo area even more because of the hatch.
The loaded Limited package can be had for $26K – a bargain considering its standard equipment and Toyota safety suite with dynamic cruise control.
When it comes to infotainment, Toyota would prefer you to bring your own. They leave you a nice 8-inch touchscreen at the top of the center stack, but navigation is an extra software plugin available at the dealership. However, all C-HR models now come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you are a person who relies on your smartphone for navigation and prefer Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze, the C-HR makes a lot of sense. You can forego expensive navigation from the factory for the software built into your phone and not have to pay for the privilege. Myself, I prefer built-in navigation to alleviate having to use a smartphone and its data continuously. Especially if you travel in areas with weak cell service.
My top-of-the-line Limited, which already includes leather-trimmed seating, heated front seats and ambient lighting, reaches farther into luxury territory with a new eight-way power driver’s seat and Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) with headlamp auto-leveling. AFS partially aims the headlight beams into turns as the driver steers, helping to provide an extra margin of night driving safety.
A color display lives in the twin-ring instrument cluster and shows odometer, Sport and Eco modes, outside temperature, fuel economy and even a G-force monitor for fun. The Toyota Audio system with six speakers could use an upgrade but will get you going if you decide this car is the one you keep for the long haul. The car is built for it.
The styling of the C-HR is trendy and cool. I mean, who doesn’t like rear door handles located on the top of the door? For 2020, the C-HR features a restyled front grill and fascia to make it look ultra-modern. My Limited tester rode on 18-inch wheels that looked the part.
According to Toyota, the sport coupe persona is especially evident in the fastback-style roof, highly sculpted “wide body” rear quarter panels and a lip spoiler on the hatchback. At the roof’s edge, a color-matched cantilevered wing tapers neatly inboard. The slim LED headlights wrap deeply into the sides of the hood, running rearward along the fender tops. The package sure will grab the younger generation over a typical Corolla.
The interior of the C-HR Limited has a nicely appointed dashboard, with two different textures bringing out its character. Along with the soft-touch materials covering surfaces throughout, there is an upgraded gray headliner with some character marks. The contrasting headliner and dashboard make the C-HR seem like a nicer place to be compared to a Corolla or other plain-Jane CUV.
Standard Safety Suite – Safety Sense
On the safety front, all C-HR models comes packed with Toyota’s Safety Sense. Because of the forward-facing radar, this is one of the few vehicles at the price point that offers full-speed range dynamic cruise control. If you live in a place plagued with traffic, this feature is essential. The radar capability also bundles Toyota’s Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA) and Automatic High Beams (AHB). You have to jump to the XLE and Limited models to get Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Luckily, the aftermarket can get you those features if they did not come standard on the vehicle you are currently driving. Your local mobile electronics retailer can retrofit the technology normally reserved for the top models of the C-HR.
So it looks good, gets good gas mileage, handles well and mimics today’s wildly popular CUVs. Coupled with Toyota quality, we think the C-HR is a winner. A little audio upgrade from the standard six-speaker audio system and you are good to go!