2019 Toyota C-HR Review: Identity Crisis

Does the 2019 Toyota C-HR make its case against the competition?

Before we get to impressions, let’s get to what has not changed with the Toyota C-HR. It’s still powered by a 144 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-banger that makes 139 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is still the only transmission available, and it’s still only offered in front-wheel drive (FWD).

Other markets get all-wheel drive options and more drivetrain options. While Toyota insists the 2019 Toyota C-HR (“Coupe – High Rider” in Toyota-speak) competes with the Honda HR-V, Fiat 550X, Mazda CX-3 and others, but it doesn’t. It can’t — The C-HR is not, by normal definition, a crossover.

2019 Toyota C-HR [Photo: Toyota]

Now, the better news: EPA fuel economy ratings are 27/31 mpg. That is still pretty decent. It handles brilliantly, with a well-weighted steering setup and a sporty, yet comfy suspension setup. This is a car that can handle a lot more power.

The size is pretty good for a new driver, college student or even a small family. As long as folks don’t mind a tight, penalty-box back seat area (it’s tight and the rear-door glass is small), it even has road-trip potential.

While space is a bit limited compared to many, it still has the utility of a hatchback. You 19.0 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat – which is small and 36.4 cubic feet with all seats folded – which is still pretty small. In fact, while I was able to (barely) get an old chair with four bags of groceries inside, it was a mighty tight squeeze.

What is new?

Very little has changed for 2019. There are now three grades offered, the base LE, XLE and top-of-the-line Limited. The 2019 Toyota C-HR gets Entune 3.0 with Apple CarPlay as part of a package option. There are a few new colors, including Blue Flame – which made our tester look like a big toy. That’s a good thing.

Considering the lack of scoot and so-so interior space, the damn thing looks fun. Kids and even “she-who-must-be-obeyed” liked the funky looks and quirky personality of the 2019 Toyota C-HR.

Hell, even I admit that there is a lot of potential with this little runabout.

Still, having “potential” isn’t the same as being a great ride. The 2019 Toyota C-HR could be so much more. This vehicle has an identity crisis because it doesn’t know what it should be in our market.

  • Is it a crossover? No (it doesn’t have all-wheel drive).
  • Is it a hot/fun hatchback? No (it isn’t powerful or fast).
  • Is it an economy car? Nope (not the best fuel economy).
  • …Is it a bit of an enigma? Sure is…
2018 Toyota C-HR
[Photo: Toyota]