Toyota’s lineup continues to grow and one of the latest additions to the family is the 2018 Toyota C-HR. There are a lot of things to love about this stylish, sporty vehicle but we have to first address the elephant in the room: the name “C-HR”. It stands for “Coupe High-Rider”. Look at the vehicle for a minute. Now come back to that name. Are you confused. You are not alone. This a five-door, “low-riding” SUV or CUV…but it’s not coupe. While the name creates some confusion, the C-HR knows exactly what it is: a super-funky, ultra-stylish, head-turning vehicle.

EXTERIOR

Toyota decided to flex some creative design muscle in the C-HR. The design aesthetic is a satisfying combination of sharp angles and curvy lines. It sits hunkered down with beefy fenders all the way around but also has a sloping roofline and stretched-out front fascia and headlights which create a sort of muscular sleekness. The side body lines create an hourglass shape that draws your attention to several parts of the body design at the same time – raised, contrast-color rocker panels accentuate the “length” of the car while the front and rear fenders are highlighted by the “ends” of the hourglass.

As the roofline slopes downwards towards the back, the progressively raised window lines move the design lines upward. This sort of meshing of lines and design cues are also visible in the 18-inch sport alloy wheels with web-like design patterns. The rear is slightly reminiscent of Honda’s Civic Hatchback but the rest of the vehicle helps clearly distinguish it from its competitor. Our tester came with the R-Code white roof but in comparing non R-Code models, I felt the C-HR’s design was suited better without the white roof. However, 7 color options are offered so you’re bound to find the right one for you.

INTERIOR

I found it refreshing to note that the design fun of the C-HR’s exterior made it’s way into the interior as well. One of the standout interior notes was the diamond-pattern found throughout the cabin. From the doors to the interior light and in the headliner, Toyota designers spread the diamond design around to balance its appearance. There were plenty of soft-touch plastics and premium cloth seats which gave it an overall nicer quality feel. Six large cup holders, dual climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen audio system with rearview camera as well and tilt-and-telescoping steering column were some of the other standard features in the XLE.

While the interior did have a high-quality feel, the sea of dark grey or black materials made it a bit boring. If you opt for a brighter color exterior, you’ll be treated to a same-color dash accent in the cabin. Front driver and passenger legroom is generous but once you hop into the backset, anyone over 6-feel might feel a bit cramped. And while space in the rear seats is great for kids, smaller passengers might find the raised window lines a bit claustrophobic.

One of the downsides to the C-HR’s fun and funky design is that it brings about a slightly poor visibility in comparison to other, more traditional crossovers….er…I mean coupes.

PERFORMANCE & DRIVING

The 2018 Toyota C-HR comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine – mated to a new CVT – delivering 144 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque (front-wheel drive only). Let’s just say that the fun and excitement of the design did not match up with the overall power and performance. Sure, in the city and urban roads the C-HR did great and was actually a fun, sporty experience. But the moment I needed any sort of real power, I was left wanting and felt a bit defeated as I felt like I was punishing the car to get me just a little more get-up-and-go. There were three drive modes – Normal, Eco, Sport – but I never got out of “Sport” mode, nor am I sure why anyone else would. Where the C-HR lacked in power it made up for in overall handling and comfort. EPA estimates 27 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.

SAFETY & PRICING

Standard safety features in the 2018 Toyota C-HR include: automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist plus ten airbags, rearview camera and hill-start assist. IIHS rated C-HR as “good”, and with a “Superior” rating for front-crash prevention. Base pricing starts at $22,500 for the XLE and $25,395 for the XLE Premium. The XLE Premium adds: blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, fog lamps, smart key and push-button start, and sport seats with lumbar support.

The 2018 Toyota C-HR definitely gets high marks for its aggressive design, driving feel and overall “fun factor” but suffers a bit in its lack of power. As an urban chariot that won’t see much highway time, this “high-riding coupe” is a solid pick with a great price point. But just plan on blasting up the on-ramp anytime soon.

See you on the road,

Fabian