2017 Toyota C-HR review: Stylish, not practical

The Toyota C-HR is the Japanese manufacturer’s answer to the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, VW T-Roc, Ford EcoSport and the whole multitude of small, style-led urban SUVs that have flooded the market. Offered with a simple lineup of a 1.2 petrol or 1.8 petrol-electric hybrid, it’s got overtly sci-fi looks and hybrid power as its key selling points.
Body Style: 5 door SUV
Seats: 5
MRP from lb21,595-lb28,615
Did you know? The Toyota C-HR is one of the most customisable cars in the small SUV class.

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The Toyota C-HR is a game of two halves. The hybrid is worth considering only if you’re a company car buyer and will benefit from the low emissions and tax costs; otherwise it’s expensive and not all that great to drive. The manual 1.2 petrol is a much sweeter drive, with far more reasonable purchase costs, and that paired with the funky looks it’s easy to see why you would choose it over the plethora of rivals even though this is far from the most spacious or practical car of its kind.
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Striking styling
Low emissions on hybrid
Decent ride comfort
We Don’t Like
Poor practicality
Very limited engine range
So-so refinement

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The small SUV class exists on stylish appeal above all else – witness the success of the Nissan Juke – and the Toyota C-HR is one of the most extrovert-looking of the breed. The deeply sculpted swage line swooping down the side of the car, the steeply raked roofline, the hidden door handle in the corner of the rear door, the over-sized rear spoiler, the face of the car that looks like a Stormtrooper’s helmet… It’s all very distinctive. It’s also likely to divide opinion, but that’s nearly always preferable to being boring and forgettable – we reckon that this is one of the better examples of the current trend for very fussy SUV styling on a small car. It makes this family hatch-sized car look interesting and extrovert as it beetles about the city, although when you start adding the optional contrasting door mirrors, sills, bumper highlights and more, it can get a bit much very easily.
And with so many micro-, small- and mid-sized SUVs now crowding much the same price arena, it’s getting harder to figure out which one fits which role. For some context, the Toyota C-HR is some 0.2m longer than a Nissan Juke (it’s a fraction longer even than a VW Golf), but is near-enough the same height and width as Nissan’s now-ubiquitous baby SUV.

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The C-HR’s dash is dominated by a swooping trim line that runs around the doors and over the dash. It looks pretty cool, particularly if you go for one of the higher trims so you get the contrasting colour – like the standard blue tone on the Dynamic test car shown here. There are also interesting textures around the cabin like the diamond-faceted plastic insert in the doors, which looks great but feels a bit cheap.
Otherwise, the driving position is decent and should accommodate most sizes of driver without issue. Visibility is pretty poor, though. The view out to the rear is quite limited thanks to the sweeping roofline and narrow back window, and even the forward view is one of the worst in the class as the windscreen pillars are very raked back and often create a blind spot as you look out onto a junction.
This is the weakest point for the C-HR. Sure, an average-sized adult can sit behind a tall-ish driver, and the boot will take a sizeable weekly shop or a average-sized buggy. But that’s really the extent of it, which is disappointing for something with (granted, very moderate) SUV pretensions.
Rear legroom is a bit tight for any leggy adults, and there are no usefully versatile sliding seats etc as you get with a Renault Captur. Likely to be more of an annoyance on a daily basis is the swooping headline and narrow door aperture that makes this less than ideal if you have to duck in and get kids out of car seats.
The boot, too, has a high lip and a narrow aperture that make it less practical than plenty of alternatives, and with the 60/40 split rear seats folded there’s a huge step up in the loadbay. Ultimately, it’ll be adequate for a small family’s needs but there are better alternatives when it comes to interior roominess and usefulness.

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Technology & Connectivity
An 8-inch tablet-style touch-screen is standard on all C-HR models, as is Bluetooth, DAB, USB input, six speakers and even a reversing camera. You have to pay lb750 to add sat-nav to entry-level Icon trim, but nav with Western European mapping and online connectivity (with a Smartphone connected) is standard on every other model.
Single or twin DVD players are also offered, and you can add one or two iPad holders with USB charging ports for those in the back.
The screen responds fairly quickly and is easy enough to use, particularly with the help of the shortcut buttons to either side of it. Mind you, those shortcut buttons are a bit small and fiddly (the volume ones are particularly annoying but you’ll likely use the steering wheel buttons anyway) and it’s not got the finest graphics in the class – that’d have to go to the BMW X1 or Mini Countryman. And another niggle is that it can be a tricky task to scroll through your music library as there’s no rotary button to speed things up.

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Performance & Handling
The Toyota is not a fast car, whichever of the two engines you choose. If you want four-wheel drive, then the 114bhp 1.2 turbocharged petrol engine with a CVT automatic gearbox is your only option. That’s a fairly niche (and expensive) option. Most will settle for front-wheel drive, and we favour the 1.2 engine but before that, let’s talk about the hybrid. This is one of very few hybrid options in the class; only Kia offers another hybrid in the Niro, or Mini offers a plug-in hybrid model that’s well worth a look if you’re after electric running.
The C-HR gets the powertrain from the Prius, meaning you’ve got a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to propel you effortlessly and silently at very low speeds, and to help deliver a bit more oomph if you want a burst of acceleration.
This is all well and good because you get the trademark eery silence of electric propulsion, but the problem then is that it’s obvious when the engine kicks in – which it will do all the time unless you drive at funereal speeds – and then if you do want a moderate burst of speed, the CVT automatic gearbox causes the engine to over-rev and make a rather unpleasant mooing noise. So it’s a game of two halves, really. Supreme refinement at very low town speeds and egg-shell throttle use, or annoyingly bad refinement in anything else.
We favour the manual 1.2, which is both cheap, more fun, and ironically more refined overall given that the engine is quite quiet unless you rev it harder than you’re likely to want to. The gearchange is light and positive enough, the engine free-revving and urgent up to 40mph to satisfy in the urban muddle. Apart from a clutch that suffers a high, vague biting point and so doesn’t lend itself to smooth progress in heavy traffic, this powertrain is ideal for city pottering and fends well for itself out on faster roads.
Ultimately, while the two engines on offer are fit for purpose, it’s a shame that the engine range is so limited compared to alternatives like the VW T-Roc.
Handling and comfort
The Toyota C-HR has decent ride and handling. We haven’t driven the four-wheel drive model, but the front-wheel drive car turns into bends with enough zeal to feel chuckable, and while the steering is quite light and short on feedback, it’s predictable and precise enough to give you confidence. It’s well sorted for torturous car park meandering, and it feels secure and easy going out on the open road.
Ride comfort is mostly very good. There’s quite a bit of body lean but it’s not awkward or overly lolloping, and the soft suspension does a good job of softening speed bumps and pot holes, making this one of the more comfortable compact SUVs in the class.
Mind you, over high-frequency undulations – particularly at higher speeds – the Toyota can become a bit choppy, so it’s not without fault. More annoying is that the C-HR is fairly low riding for an SUV-type car, so if you’re not careful you can still scrape the front splitter on speed bumps.
Recommended engine: Toyota C-HR 1.2 manual
0-62 MPH
10.9 seconds
Fuel economy
47.9 mpg

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The Toyota does very well for safety. It scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP’s crash tests, with a particularly strong 95 percent score for adult occupant safety, albeit an adequate but unexceptional 77 percent for child occupants.
Standard safety kit is excellent, with automatic emergency braking including pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control (that keeps a set distance from the car in front), lane departure warning, automatic high beam and traffic sign recognition. Go for one of the top two trims and you even get rear cross-traffic alert (which tells you if there’s a car coming as you reverse out of a blind parking space) and blind spot assist, which is the sort of tech you usually pay extra for even on high-end versions of cars from many classes above.
There are also seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. An immobiliser and alarm are standard.

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Spec & Trim Levels
Pure White is the only standard colour on the C-HR, or if you go for entry-level Icon trim, there are eight metallic shades including the bright Nebula Blue that we favour. Oddly, step up to Excel trim and you get fewer shades to choose from, and the bright blue isn’t an option. Go for range-topping Dynamic and you get a contrasting black roof, but even fewer body colours to choose from – although the metallic shades are standard, and a Dynamic trim-specific pearlescent white is available for a reasonable lb250.
The C-HR is intended to offer a broad range of personalisation, so you can add all sorts of style-oriented extras, from a Sport pack that brings a rear diffuser, skirts and lower front spoiler, to contrast coloured trim highlights offered in all sorts of colours from a subtle grey to lurid green. You can even have different coloured side-mirror casings to the colour side skirt and bumper highlights, and there are sticker packs to further personalise your C-HR.
Trim Levels
Base Icon trim is well equipped for comfort, with auto lights and wipers, climate control, reversing camera, 17-inch alloys and the 8-inch colour screen. However, you have to pay lb750 to get nav, which is a key reason why most will go for Excel trim, which adds nav and online functionality to the touchscreen, keyless entry, intelligent park assist with front and rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloys and part-leather seats.
Dynamic goes to town with the styling features, including standard metallic paint and contrasting black roof, LED headlights and auto-folding and heated side mirrors.
Size and Dimensions
Max towing weight unbraked – braked
720kg – 1300kg

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Fuel Economy
The Toyota C-HR is one of very few hybrid cars in the small SUV class, making it one of the most efficient, too. Only the hybrid Kia Niro gets close, or the Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid (and the forthcoming Kia Niro plug-in hybrid) will better it because of the longer pure-electric range on offer. Still, as a company car option the hybrid C-HR promises low tax costs and its official economy of more than 70mpg also appeals, although in our experience you’re more likely to see around 60mpg if you drive with economy in mind, or more like 50mpg or under if you do a lot of faster, varied driving.
We favour the 1.2 because it’s nicer to drive and cheaper to buy, but the efficiency on offer is questionable. There are plenty of rivals that better the 1.2 C-HR’s emissions and economy, not least the usefully faster Mini Countryman Cooper and the much more practical Peugeot 3008 1.2 PureTech, the latter of which is some 20g/km and nearly 10mpg better.
Insurance costs will be competitive, undercutting the Mini Countryman by a useful amount, even if low-powered versions of the VW T-Roc or Seat Arona are cheaper still.
Reliability and servicing
Toyota has a good reputation for reliability, and the C-HR uses mechanicals from familiar models that have justified that reputation, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re buying one of the most reliable cars in the class. And if you do have any problems, Toyota has a five year, 100,000 mile warranty that betters most rivals apart from Kia with it seven year warranty.
The C-HR will tell you when a service is due, and you can spread the cost into easy, fixed monthly payments if you wish. Toyota also offers a good deal where it’ll match any service price you can find from another garage within a 10-mile radius of the dealership, provided the other garage is using official Toyota parts.
Variable dependent on use
Variable dependent on use

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The Toyota C-HR is one of the more expensive options in the class going by list price, although it is partly because it competes with such a broad array of cars that it looks expensive.
A Nissan Juke, for instance, can be yours for many thousands less – just don’t go comparing an entry-level Juke with an entry-level C-HR, as the Toyota is vastly better equipped as standard. Even so, a well equipped Nissan Juke, Seat Arona or Vauxhall Mokka X can be yours for usefully less than the Toyota C-HR, while a VW T-Roc is also a fraction cheaper.
The flip-side is that a Mini Countryman or Audi Q2 will cost four-figures more than the Toyota by the time you’ve added equivalent equipment, and more importantly, Toyota offers competitive finance deals on the C-HR. As we write, a typical finance deal will see you paying lb358 per month on an Excel 1.2, after a lb2000 deposit.
Company car buyers will benefit from very competitive BIK tax on the hybrid C-HR, which comes in at just over lb6000 for 40 percent tax payers. Mind you, a Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid will cost more than lb1000 less than that over the same period.
Trend Setter
Dynamic trim is already a striking-looking car, and you can go mad with brightly-coloured contrasting trim
Cost Conscious
Stick to Excel trim and add sat-nav. Retail buyers should look to the 1.2 manual, while company car buyers are likely better off with the hybrid.
New Parents
Go for Icon trim, as you get the full gamut of driver safety aids, as well as keyless entry and go. Isofix and child-safe rear door locks are standard.
Audi Q2
Decent to drive, but feeling a bit old inside now and falls short of the C-HR’s style savvy.
VW T-Roc
Looks great and drives very well, plus there’s a broader engine range to choose from.
Mini Countryman
You’ll pay more for it, but it’s more fun and a touch more practical. The range-extender is a cheaper company car than the hybrid C-HR.
Vauxhall Mokka X
Cheaper than the Toyota, but without the posh looks and brand appeal, and not as good to drive.
Kia Niro
Quite unpleasant to drive, but currently the only other hybrid alternative in this class.


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