2022 Toyota C-HR Nightshade Review: Is It Still Even Relevant?

2022 CHR Nightshade nose
The funky little C-HR has been the entry point to Toyota’s crossover lineup for a few years, but it’s facing competition from within its own family. (Images: TFLcar)

The 2022 Toyota C-HR Nightshade is a trim package for Toyota’s unusual, and unloved hatchback.

On the surface, you’d look at the new Corolla Cross and think it’s hard to make a case for the 2022 Toyota C-HR Nightshade. About 50,000 Toyota C-HRs were sold in North America in 2020, which isn’t too shabby. It trails the Nissan Kicks‘ sales numbers of nearly 60,000 for the same time. That’s still a commendable figure, though, for a car that’s been around for a few years now. Both models are fundamentally tall, front-wheel drive hatchbacks with fairly anemic (but efficient) powertrains. While it looks like, and indeed is labeled as a “crossover”, the Toyota C-HR Nightshade still does not have all-wheel drive.

It’s unfortunate, to my mind, that Toyota never gave the C-HR a powertrain that matched its funky-looking exterior. This model retains its 2.0-liter, naturally-aspirated engine with 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. This power is fed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It’s not as lively as a manual transmission or your standard torque-converter automatic, but the C-HR Nightshade delivers great efficiency. The EPA rates its fuel economy at 27 MPG city and 31 MPG on the highway. I landed right in the middle, at 29 MPG.

This 2022 Toyota C-HR Nightshade may look faster than it is, but there are some fun up-sides.

You might be surprised at how well the 2022 Toyota C-HR Nightshade handles. It has an independent, double-wishbone rear suspension with SACHS bump-stops. That side of the car is well-tuned, as is the independent MacPherson strut front suspension. Out of all of its rivals, this absolutely corners the best. The ride is a bit noisy, but it’s seriously well composed. It’s pretty comfortable on highways too.

I hate bashing this car, because it has so much potential. However, Toyota never truly gave it the heart it needed from the beginning. This Nightshade trim is blacked-out badging, wheels and trim, but you get no real performance upgrades. The 18-inch black wheels look pretty good, but the funky interior designs is basically the same.

2021 Toyota C-HR Nightshade interior
Image: Toyota

Still, it’s a brilliant daily driver for the right consumer. It now comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which gives you automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The system also provides lane keep assist with lane tracing, road sign assist, automatic high-beams, along with adaptive cruise control.

The 2022 Toyota C-HR Nightshade gives you 19.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats. If you fold the back seats down, you get 37.0 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s somewhat utilitarian, but the design of the roof and hatch impede on the utility of the vehicle. The Nissan Kicks has less space, yet is easier to load.

All C-HR’s come with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display. You also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. All C-HR’s also get six speakers, which are surprisingly decent for a basic Toyota sound system.

It’s all kind of irrelevant now, thanks to the Toyota Corolla Cross.

With a base price of $23,410, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is a better buy. Sure, the 2022 C-HR starts at just over $22,000. But the Nightshade trim package comes in at $24,495 before destination. Honestly, the Corolla Cross is a more comfortable, utilitarian, capable and logical choice. It represents what the C-HR should have been from the get-go — an actual, all-wheel drive-capable crossover.

The C-HR hasn’t aged well, and the happy-go-lucky feeling of the Corolla Cross (along with its bevy of options) will appeal to far more consumers. Sure, the C-HR is still lighter on its toes, that won’t matter to the type of consumer who will buy a Corolla Cross.