2018 Toyota C-HR Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Nov 17, 2016
  • Originally slated for Scion, the C-HR lands at Toyota
  • C-HR stands for Coupe High Rider
  • Small 5-door hatchback with raised ride height
  • 144-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Continuously variable transmission
  • Front-drive only; no all-wheel-drive option
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense technology
  • On sale in spring of 2017



2018 Toyota C-HR front quarter left photo
Toyota’s new C-HR is tough to classify, but one thing is almost certain: this thing is going to sell in significant numbers. What is the 2018 Toyota C-HR? Think Kia Soul, but shedding the box in which it came.

The name is derived from the design theme, which is “Coupe High Rider.” Nevermind that this 5-door hatchback isn’t a coupe, it does ride high. However, it is not available with an optional all-wheel-drive system that could make it even more appealing to people living in cold-weather climates.

Toyota says the C-HR is aimed at “urban-dwelling, fashion-forward trendsetters.” Yet, the company uses XLE and XLE Premium to denote the two different C-HR models, because nothing says “fashion-forward” like the trim levels from Grandpa’s Camry.

Exterior Features

Guided by a “distinctive diamond” design theme, Toyota characterizes the new C-HR as “avant-garde…modern…bold…outgoing…sexy…muscular…and edgy.”

Highlights include swollen and oversized fenders, hidden rear door handles in the vehicle’s rear roof pillars, 3-D taillights that protrude from the vehicle, and a rear lip-spoiler with a functional wing. Standard equipment includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, projector beam headlights with LED running lights, and power adjustable heated and folding outside mirrors.


2018 Toyota C-HR interior photo Interior Features
Inside, the C-HR is equipped with an uncluttered, driver-oriented interior featuring diamond-shaped themes, soft-touch materials, and sport-bolstered front seats. Standard equipment includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a touchscreen infotainment system with a 7-inch display, a black headliner, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a reversing camera.

Toyota promises lots of nooks and crannies for small items, front and rear. The company also says that scalloped front seat backs, extra foot space, and a chamfered headliner help to make the rear seat feel “spacious.”

Optional Features

Upgrade to the C-HR XLE Premium model for a blind spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert system. This version of the vehicle also comes with heated front seats, exterior puddle light projectors showing “Toyota C-HR,” fog lights, and a passive entry system with push-button engine starting.

Under the Hood

Toyota keeps it simple with regard to the C-HR’s mechanicals, and bases the vehicle on the automaker’s New Global Architecture, which underpins the latest Prius and will serve as the basis for a range of upcoming models from the company.

The only engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 144 horsepower and 140 lb.-ft. of torque. A brand new continuously variable transmission (CVT) powers the front wheels, and is designed to maximize both acceleration and fuel economy.

Toyota installs something called a “pre-load differential” which it says helps to improve torque distribution at lower speeds. A Sport driving mode with seven artificial CVT ratios quickens throttle response and weights up the steering.


2018 Toyota C-HR rear quarter right photo Despite what appears to be a power deficit, Toyota says it wants the new C-HR to exhilarate its driver, and equates the vehicle’s handling to “a well-sorted sports car.” In fact, the ride and handling were tuned on Germany’s Nurburgring race track. Componentry include a front strut, double-wishbone rear suspension, as well as a column-mounted electric steering unit with light feedback at low speeds and higher feedback at higher speeds.

While this is all well and good, it sure seems like a turbocharged engine is missing from this package. Toyota could also use a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain to improve performance and fuel economy, though the extra weight would have a detrimental effect on handling.


Toyota Safety Sense is standard for every 2018 C-HR. The package includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control. Additionally, the C-HR is equipped with 10 airbags, hill-start assist, and a reversing camera.

By upgrading to the XLE Premium, the C-HR also provides a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.


Every C-HR features a touchscreen infotainment screen with a 7-inch display. The screen is positioned on the dashboard rather than in it, helping to reduce eye movement when referencing the system. It includes Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, an Aha app providing access to global internet radio and other sources of entertainment, a USB port, an auxiliary input jack, and a voice recognition system with voice training capability.
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