2020 Toyota C-HR

By March 24, 2020

The 2020 Toyota C-HR crossover has a quirky personality and wacky looks to go with its unconventional name. Toyota says C-HR means “Coupe, High Roof,” never mind that it has four doors. 

Whatever it is, the C-HR is a good value with its low starting price, and it’s fun to drive. It corners well. It’s better for a young couple than a family, as the rear seat is cramped and the cargo space modest for a crossover.  

To go with its style, it has a plush ride, taut steering, and leisurely performance. Its 2.0-liter inline-4 engine makes 144 horsepower mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). There’s no all-wheel drive, just front-wheel drive.

It’s well-equipped for safety, with standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors are optional.

Also new for 2020 are standard LED headlights and Android Auto compatibility, which joins Apple CarPlay on the 8.0-inch touchscreen. 

The C-HR is rated by the EPA at 27 mpg city, 31 highway, 29 combined. 

Last year’s C-HR earned five stars overall from the NHTSA, and “Good” ratings in every crash test from the IIHS. 

Model Lineup

The C-HR comes as LE, XLE, and Limited. 

At around $22,500, the LE comes with power features, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, automatic dual-zone climate control, and active safety gear. At about $24,500 the XLE adds alloy wheels, blind-spot monitors, and keyless ignition. The C-HR Limited costs about $27,500, with leather upholstery, heated front seats, and power driver’s seat.

Exterior

A gentle nip and tuck this year refines the 2020 Toyota C-HR, taking off some of last year’s sharper angles. LED headlights simplify the front end, but it still stands out from the rest of the small crossovers in the grocery-store parking lot. Is that an SUV or a hatchback? Like Toyota says, it’s a coupe with a high roof (and four doors). 

The color of the roof can match the body, or it can be black or silver finish (but not white like last year). New 17- and 18-inch wheel designs complement the contrast.

Interior

The controls are mounted high on the instrument panel, while the touchscreen juts out of a fairly low dashboard. The fabrics and materials are restrained. The standard cloth upholstery and available leather trim have a nice feel. Soft-touch plastics are in short supply, but that’s to be expected given the price.

The front seats are low for a crossover, and don’t provide a lot of support but they do offer a wide range of manual adjustment. Only the Limited gets a power driver’s seat. Even with the low seats, the view out the windshield is good, thanks to the low dash.

There’s only 32 inches of leg room in the rear, so there’s no relief after the passengers squeeze through oddly shaped rear door openings. Style seems to be the priority. 

The infotainment system is okay, but owners might just connect their phones and let Apple or Google take over. 

A wheelbase of 104 inches doesn’t leave a lot of room for cargo. Behind the second row, the C-HR offers a modest 19 cubic feet, which is still more than a hatchback with that wheelbase. With the seat folded, the number remains modest at 36.4 cubic feet.

The low front seats are felt when looking out the rear glass, where thick rear roof pillars also obstruct the view. We recommend the optional blind-spot monitors, although that won’t solve the problem of the driver looking over his or her shoulder. 

Driving Impressions

With just 144 horsepower to carry 3,300 pounds, the C-HR’s is just average when it comes to acceleration. A 2.0-liter inline-4 transmits its modest power to the front wheels through an economy-minded continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). However a Sport mode enables the CVT to feel like an automatic with artificial gear changes, and that helps.

The suspension is fairly sophisticated for the car’s price, and the result is an almost-luxurious ride. Front struts and a dual-wishbone independent rear suspension are rarely seen on inexpensive hatchback-crossovers, and they pay off here. 

The steering is hefty and taut, without transmitting much from the front wheels. On a curvy road, the C-HR feels confident if not exactly sporty. More support in the front seats would help. 

Don’t plan to take the C-HR very far off road. Its ground clearance is low and all-wheel drive not available anyhow. If hiking and camping is on your agenda, this funky crossover isn’t your car. 

Final Word

With the 2020 Toyota C-HR, drivers get style, a super ride, decent cornering, safety, and a very affordable price. The compact car could use a little more space and a little better fuel economy—but in terms of curb appeal, it’s far beyond business as usual.

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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