Cars | Perspective
November 22, 2017 at 4:28 PM
You must insert an ignition key to start this one, which tells you something about its price range in a vehicle age where push-button ignition is commonplace.
It is inexpensive by today's standards, certainly less costly than the popular Toyota RAV-4 compact sport-utility vehicle.
Toyota's marketers call this one a "sport-utility vehicle," which is more of a marketing term than anything else.
The C-HR XLE, a new Toyota product for 2018, looks and feels more like a small station wagon, whimsically designed by grade-school students given its loopy yet angular exterior sculpture and availability in two-tone body colors (radiant green mica with ice-white roof in the model used for this column) generally shunned by other vehicle manufacturers.
The interior is washable — a work of recyclable, diamond-embossed, plasticlike door panels and fabric-covered seats. It is great for car owners with messy young children, or for adults who never have learned to tidy up their living spaces.
It is not a vehicle designed to impress folks who have been driving for 10 or 20 years, or who have long held a desire to sit behind the steering wheel of something with dual exhaust pipes and loud exhaust notes.
It is an odd small wagon for people with normal driving expectations, who intend to obey all posted speed limits and respect the authorized officials who enforce them.
Equipment includes a 2.0-liter, gasoline-powered, four-cylinder engine (144 horsepower, 139 pound-feet of torque) linked to an automatic, continuously variable transmission — an automatic transmission that seamlessly sends power to the drive wheels via the use of pulleys instead of fixed gears.
The advantage of CVT models is that they tend to save fuel. But many drivers complain that they lack driving feel and are less than robust in climbing hills.
The C-HR XLE does embrace modernity in the base XLE model and even more so in the top XLE Premium trim level. There is an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera display, advanced electronic safety features (e.g., lane-departure alert), and automatic high beams — largely thanks to the Toyota Safety Sense package, highly recommended by this column.
Like most Toyota products, the 2018 C-HR XLE is well-made, bereft of any obvious fit-and-finish faults. Whether it will attain the popularity of the RAV-4 remains to be seen. This one deliberately is aimed at a younger, less-affluent buyer, although Toyota's marketers are loath to put it that way. They use more exciting language. To wit: "Revolutionary style meets rebellious spirit."
Hmm. Here's hoping Toyota's "rebels" have as much willingness and enthusiasm to part with their money as buyers of the rival Nissan Rogue.
Nuts & Bolts
Toyota C-HR XLE
Bottom line: The C-HR XLE is a well-made starter vehicle, designed to have an appeal to young buyers similar to that of the Nissan Rogue.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It is acceptable in all areas of on-road performance.
Head-turning quotient: I doubt that it will appeal to older adults. It's not meant to.
Body style/layout: The C-HR is a compact, front-wheel-drive wagon/sport-utility vehicle with two large front side doors and two smaller side doors in the rear with hidden door latches. It has a rear hatch and is available in XLE Premium trim.
Engine/transmission: It comes with a 2.0-liter, inline, four-cylinder 16-valve gasoline engine with variable valve timing. The engine is linked to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Capacities: Seating is for five people. Cargo capacity is 19 cubic feet with all seats up and 36.4 cubic feet with middle seats lowered. Fuel capacity is 13.2 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade is okay.
Real-world mileage: We — my wife, Mary Anne, and I — averaged 28 miles per gallon in highway driving carrying no cargo.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front and solid rear; four-wheel anti-lock braking system; emergency braking assistance; blind-spot and lane-departure warning accident avoidance systems; lane-departure warning; pre-collision safety; stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.
Pricing: The 2018 C-HR XLE starts at $23,723, about $24,523 with an estimated $800 delivery charge. The C-HR XLE Premium starts at $25,922, about $26,722 with delivery charge. Toyota dealers say they are willing to bargain. Hint: Washington area Toyota dealers with remodeled store fronts are offering "welcoming" attractive pricing to new buyers.