Driving the 2018 Toyota C-HR – A little mirth in a mirth-less world


2018 toyota chr
2018 Toyota C-HR

Would you believe me if I told you that the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s Deputy Chief Engineer, Hiro Koba  took it to the Nurburgring to tune its handling? It’s true. What if I told you that you can buy one of these tall hatchbacks for an MSRP of $22,500? That’s true too. There is plenty to like about this little runabout, as long as you don’t get hung up on the fact that, overseas, its available with lots of goodies we don’t get.

According to Toyota: “The C-HR’s engine, a punchy 2.0-liter four-cylinder dual-overhead cam producing 144 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 139 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm, sends all power to the front wheels via the Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence and Shift mode (CVTi-S)

EPA-estimates are 27 city/31 highway/29 combined miles-per-gallon for both trim levels.

It comes with:

  • Standard Pre-Collision System with Active Braking
  • Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSSP)  with Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/50R-18 all-season tires
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Bucket seating with 60/40 split folding rear seats
  • 7-inch audio display

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is available in two grades, XLE and XLE Premium.

According to Toyota: “(The) XLE Premium adds Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; heated front
seats; eight-way adjustable with Push Button Start.”

We covered some additional technical components (here).

Driving: The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a bit of a dancer. It actually likes to scoot around corners and it thrives on uneven road surfaces. With excellent wheel travel spacing and a double wishbone rear suspension, the 2018 Toyota C-HR felt a bit like a rally car. It’s body dips only on the hardest of road obstacles; when it does, it squats a bit and immediately regains its footing, once again, like a rally car.

Despite its height, its body-roll is minimal and its adhesion is excellent. It’s happy to squirt our of corners, and the breaks are beefy enough not to fade after spirited driving. While the tires do moan under stress, the platform feels well sorted, as if it could handle a lot more power… and that’s the rub.

You see, 144 hp isn’t enough. Front-wheel drive isn’t enough and a CVT isn’t enough. This car can handle so much more and, compared to its competition in North America, it truly should. It also needs things like up-to-date infotainment system, a sun-roof option and a ski/surf/kayak roof rack in the option’s list.

Here are some additional numbers:

  • Width (70.7 in.),
  • Height (61.6 in),
  • Length (171.2 in.)
  • Wheelbase (103.9 in.)
  • The 2018 Toyota C-HR produces 0.34 coefficient of drag

Here’s Toyota’s take on its handling.

“Years were spent developing on-road nimbleness and ride quality on some of the world’s most curvaceous and pitted roads, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, an iconic racing circuit set in Germany’s Eifel mountains.”

While the Nürburgring is an exceptional place to tune a sports car, it remains to be seen if it helps develop the character of a hatchback runabout. This is not a sports car, it’s a cheeky little commuter that has character, good cornering characteristics and a humble personality. I don’t think mentioning the Nürburgring changes what it truly is. 

Suspension tuning is the real story with the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s abilities. Up front – MacPherson strut front suspension with SACHS dampers has angled strut bearings and a large diameter stabilizer bar . The rear suspension is an double-wishbone suspension utilizes a 26-mm stabilizer bar and SACHS dampers with urethane upper supports.

It all works to make this vehicle truly enjoyable in the corners.

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a pleasing car to drive and, with its great packaging, it’s pretty utilitarian too. I came to the conclusion that, while it looks like a competitor to vehicles like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX3 and Jeep Renegade, its more of a competitor to vehicles like the Kia Soul, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note. It would make a great alternative to a simple Toyota Yaris too.

I wonder how it will perform in snow country?

Check out the video!