2017 Toyota C-HR 2WD review

$26,990 $30,990 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    6.4L
  • Engine Power
    85kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    144g
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A

The C-HR is about as un-Toyota as you can get, but that's no bad thing. It's just as convincing, perhaps even more so, in base trim.

The 2017 Toyota C-HR has really made a splash in the small SUV segment, partly thanks to its striking design but also because, unlike most of the Japanese company's offerings, it isn't whitegoods on wheels to drive.

We've already tested the top-spec Koba variant, so this time we have the entry-level model on test – simply named 'C-HR'.

Kicking off at $26,990 (all prices excluding on-road costs) for the six-speed manual front-wheel drive, the base grade is also available with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with either front- or all-wheel drive – the former being what we have on test.

Our 'Atomic Rush' tester starts at $28,990, with the premium paint finish adding another $450, bringing the as-tested list price to $29,440 before the obligatory on-road costs.

That puts the C-HR against mid- to top-spec rivals, despite being an entry-level offering. Direct competitors include the Mazda CX-3 sTouring (from $26,990) and Honda HR-V VTi-S ($27,990).

However, the 'base' C-HR doesn't scrimp on kit. Standard equipment even at entry-level includes front and rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, forward collision warning, heated folding side mirrors, satellite navigation, LED daytime-running lights and LED fog lights, rear-view camera, hill-start assist, automatic power windows, multifunction steering wheel and adaptive cruise control.

Other features include a 4.2-inch driver’s instrument display, automatic high-beam, six-speaker sound system, dual-zone climate control, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic wipers and fabric seats.


Audio

Listen to the sound of the Bluetooth from the 2017 Toyota C-HR.
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But first, let's talk about the design, because the striking and boldly-styled exterior is about as un-Toyota as you can get at the moment.

The aggressive face and angular lines right through to the jewel-like head- and tail-light designs are even more out there than the Prius, and that's saying something.

It seems the company has gone for a more coupe-crossover style look with the C-HR rather than the more conventional SUV aesthetic of something like the Honda HR-V or Mitsubishi ASX, thanks to the sloping roofline, fastback tailgate and the rear door handles integrated into the window frames.

More design flair can be found on the inside, with the jewel-like/diamond inspiration continuing through to the shapes of the buttons, air vents, and the trims of the lower doors.

All the touchpoints are made of high-quality, soft-touch materials, while there are plenty of other diamond-inspired design elements scattered throughout the interior – even on the roof.

The C-HR's cockpit is a really nice place to be, with interior refinement challenging models from the Lexus range, perhaps even surpassing some of the luxury arm's entry models.


Audio

Listen to the sound of the door thunks from the outside and inside of the 2017 Toyota C-HR.
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However, our tester did run into an issue before we even started driving – the entire dashboard came loose after trying to adjust the climate control temperature, leaving the car out of action for two days while it got repaired.

Once we got it, though, we had no issues with any loose trim elements or any form of rattles or squeaks, leading us to believe that our incident was isolated.

Up front the cloth-trimmed seats are soft and supportive, while the dash and upper door trims are all finished with solid and squishy plastics.

The leather-trimmed steering wheel feels good in the hand and is of a small-ish diameter, reinforcing the more sporty vibe of the C-HR, while the analogue speedo and tacho dials with a central TFT driver's instrument display are clear and easy to read when on the move.

In the back, though, it's definitely not as luxurious as the front. While there's adequate leg- and headroom for taller passengers like this six-foot-one-ish tester, the high window line and limited rear amenities mean kids will struggle – particularly with seeing out the window, you may want to carry some paper bags in the glovebox.

Additionally, the C-HR's trims and plastics for those in the back aren't as soft and premium as those in the front, meaning the second row of seats are best left for shorter trips or older kids who can see out the window.

Behind those rear seats is a 377-litre luggage area, meaning the swoopy-styled SUV is surprisingly practical, bettering the Corolla hatch (360L), and well ahead of the Mazda CX-3 in terms of boot volume (264L). Toyota doesn't quote a figure for the C-HR's load area with the rear seats folded.

Heading out onto the road, the little Japanese crossover continues to impress.

Under the bonnet is a 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – again, very un-Toyota – producing 85kW of power at 5200rpm, and 185Nm of torque at 1500rpm.

While the outputs seem a little lacklustre, the C-HR's 1440kg kerb weight is pretty easily shifted in normal driving, thanks to the easily-accessible low-down torque.


Audio

Listen to the sound of the 0-100km/h sprint of the 2017 Toyota C-HR.
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Our tester's continuously-variable transmission (CVT) intuitively keeps the little four-pot turbo in the torque band, and is one of the more refined units of its type, while there's just about no turbo lag.

However, it could definitely use more power, considering 0-100km/h takes over 10 seconds.

What is worth noting though, is the C-HR's impressive insulation from engine noise – even under hard acceleration you never feel like you're being deafened by the sound of the engine.

Speaking of noise suppression, the Toyota is impressively refined on all road surfaces, keeping wind and tyre noise to an absolute minimum.

It's a welcome change from vehicles like the CX-3 – which is well-known for its below-average NVH levels (noise vibration harshness) compared to others within the segment.

At speed the CVT goes into cruising mode, leaving the little turbo barely ticking over 1250rpm, meaning there's no hint of engine noise at all on the freeway.

One small complaint, though, is that the CVT dulls the driving experience, even though it has a manual mode with seven "steps" – a conventional automatic or dual-clutch transmission with actual gear ratios would help the C-HR to feel more sporty.

The C-HR's ride is very supple, ironing out the various imperfections and potholes of Melbourne's roads, from the inner city to extra-urban environments.

It never crashes over bumps, and very little noise or vibration is translated through to the cabin, making for a very comfortable cruiser.

Handling is pretty good too, with the light-yet-tight steering (that's my new catch phrase) providing ample feedback while also making tight manoeuvres like parking simple as pie.

Rearward visibility is compromised, however, thanks to the huge rear pillars and small rear windscreen, meaning you'll have to really rely on the rear-view camera when reversing, while doing head checks over your shoulder making lane changes and overtaking that little more difficult – particularly when it's raining.

To compensate, the blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard equipment, and really comes in handy considering the significant blind spots.

Speaking of the C-HR's active safety systems, the fact an entry-level Japanese SUV has features like adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, automatic high beam and lane departure warning is a revelation, and Toyota should definitely be applauded for leading the charge instead of merely following like it usually does.

The adaptive cruise control system is smooth and doesn't panic when another car cuts in front of you, while the blin-spot monitoring and lane departure warning systems aren't as paranoid as some.

Fuel consumption was also pretty good during our time with the little SUV. We averaged around 7.8L/100km favouring the city and suburbs, which is pretty good despite being a little off Toyota's 6.4L/100km combined claim.

In terms of ownership, the C-HR is covered by the company's three year, 100,000km warranty, while also being the first Toyota to have five years of capped-price servicing with 12 month/15,000km intervals.

Each visit costs a standard $195 for the first 5 years or 75,000km under the Toyota Service Advantage scheme, translating to $975 for the period of the program, which is cheaper than many cars cost for three years of maintenance

Without capped-price servicing - it's not available with fleet purchases, for example - the first five services will cost between $227 and $395 depending on the interval.

To conclude, the C-HR is a very impressive package, and if this is an indication of what the next generation of Toyota will be like, it'll be a return to form for the Japanese automotive giant.

It's stylish, it's practical, it's comfortable, it's refined, it's economical and it's excellent value. That's exactly what buyers in this segment are looking for.

Additionally, in this 'entry level' trim, the C-HR is better equipped than most if not all of its direct competitors, and offers refinement and comfort levels that are superior in this segment and even the class above.

We'd even go as far to say that it would give an equivalent Lexus a run for its money – if there was one.

It's a pretty safe bet to crown the C-HR as the new class leader, it has some minor flaws – namely infotainment and rearward visibility – but it's pretty bloody good.