Car Reviews

2017 Toyota C-HR AWD Review

Isaac Bober’s 2017 Toyota C-HR AWD Review with pricing, specs, infotainment, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The quirky looking Toyota C-HR will appeal to younger buyers seeking an alternative to daggy city runabouts, but young families should look elsewhere… it’s too small.

2017 Toyota C-HR AWD

Pricing From $30,990+ORC Warranty three-years, 100,000km Service Intervals capped price servicing – $195; 12 months/15,000km Safety Not rated Engine 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol Power 85kW at 5200-5600rpm Torque 185Nm at 1500-4000rpm Transmission six-speed manual; CVT Dimensions 4360mm (L); 1795mm (W); 1565mm (H) Ground Clearance 154mm Turning Circle 10.4m Boot Space 377 litres Spare Space Saver Weight 1375-1510kg Towing 600kg Fuel Tank 50 litres Thirst 6.3-6.5L/100km

THE TOYOTA C-HR was launched here in February and, if interest in our review was anything to go by there were a lot of people clearly waiting to learn more about the quirky little crossover. Toyota is selling every single vehicle it can get its hands on with only 6000 vehicles available to it for the whole of 2017.

Toyota wants the C-HR to attract younger, non-typical Toyota buyers to the brand and, so the C-HR offers the second-largest number of accessories for any Toyota (only the HiLux offers more), this includes eight alloy wheel designs; coloured exterior garnishes, wheel caps and mirror covers; and roof cross-bars for bicycles and other sports equipment.

More than that, Toyota is offering five years capped price servicing for the C-HR of just $195 per service. And that offer is transferable if the vehicle is sold within the first five years.

So, what is the Toyota C-HR?

The name stands for Coupe, High-Rider which sounds cool but isn’t all together totally accurate. See, the C-HR is a five door, so it’s a hatchback rather than a coupe in the strictest sense of the word, and it’s not terribly high-riding either with grand clearance set at 154mm. It’d be more accurate to describe it as a jacked-up hatchback, but JU-HB doesn’t sound as cool as C-HR.

2017 Toyota C-HR Koba with optional black roof
pictured in this review is the Toyota C-HR Koba with cost-optional contrasting black roof.

Names aside, the C-HR is the first Toyota to arrive on the brand’s new global, modular platform which, while waiting for the platform delayed the release of the C-HR… Toyota said it could have rolled out the C-HR years ago on the old platform but that tuning the ride and handling to the same level as that afforded by TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) would have been too hard. But going earlier would have perhaps allowed the C-HR to be progressive rather than simply following in the footsteps of the Hyundai Veloster and Honda Civic Hatch and HR-V, or am I being too harsh?

Of its TNGA, Toyota said “[it] offers fluent, engaging driving behaviour due to its exceptional rigidity, low centre of gravity and optimised suspension layouts.

“TNGA also enabled designers to produce a dynamic-looking car with low roof and bonnet heights without compromising headroom. The platform is constructed so that key components are placed lower in the structure; for example, the turbo engine is mounted low and angled backwards.

“Designers adopted sleek coupe styling cues and the raised height of an SUV to develop C-HR’s distinctive features, including a steeply sloping roofline, ‘hidden’ rear door handles and body panels that feature complex curves and creases.”

C-HR pricing starts at $26,990+ORC for the six-speed manual, front-drive variant. A CVT adds $2000 to that, and all-wheel drive adds another $2000 on top of that. The top-of-the-range Koba variants add leather-accented seats, keyless entry and ignition, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lamps and nanoe technology that moisturises cabin air – it adds $4300 to the price and is only available with the CVT and AWD.

What’s the interior of the Toyota C-HR like?

Overall, the cabin design and the quality of the plastics used in the C-HR is a step above anything else in the Toyota range. Even the entry model feels more premium than its siblings in the Yaris and Corolla line-up. That said, there are some quirks to the cabin design, like the fact there’s nowhere to store your phone if the cupholders are being used, or that you must connect your smartphone via USB into the actual infotainment unit meaning you have a chord dangling down across the dashboard. There’s a 12v/120w outlet in the centre console but no USB outlet, or even Aux In which is a disappointment.

What’s the Toyota C-HR’s infotainment unit like?

Personally speaking, I’m not a fan of Toyota’s infotainment units and dogged resistance to allowing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It means the system is essentially limited to just making calls via Bluetooth (the call quality isn’t great) or streaming music either wirelessly or via USB connection. That said, native sat-nav is included as standard but this system is only basic and because the screen is quite small (just 6.1 inches wide) it can be difficult to use on the fly. And its matte finish is horribly affected by glare making it almost impossible to see in some situations.

2017 Toyota C-HR review

But back to the infotainment unit itself… I’ve expressed issues before about streaming music and the system often hanging or refusing to return to the album list. And, to be fair, the system in the C-HR was better, but it still wasn’t totally glitch free. Meaning that about three times out of five it would return to the last song played, the other two times it would pick a random song to play from my phone.

overall, the system is okay but, compared to, say, Subaru’s new XV which offers a better native system and bigger screen options, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity it lags key competitors which is a shame for a brand-new car with a cool looking interior layout. Indeed, if Toyota is hoping to attract a younger, more connected crowd then this infotainment unit will likely be a letdown.

What’s the Toyota C-HR’s passenger space like?

Sat in the front the vehicle feels small, Yaris small (although the styling and quality is much better); Toyota claims the C-HR offers near Corolla levels of room. The front seats are comfortable with plenty of adjustment either up and down or forward and aft. At the local launch, we stated the seat proved comfortable enough on our short stint behind the wheel, well, now we can say that they’re fine on longer drives too.

But the steering adjustment is disappointing. The range of movement for tilt and reach is too short with the steering wheel set in its highest position still feeling too low for me. Even then it obscured instruments like the fuel gauge. Climb into the passenger side front seat and you get reasonable legroom but opening the glovebox is just about impossible without crushing your own legs. And with a flush-fit button to open the glovebox you end up fondling the glovebox while you try and locate the opening button, but then once you’ve found it you can’t really open it because your legs are in the way. Fail.

2017 Toyota C-HR review by Practical Motoring

While the front feels roomy the curved roofline front and rear does make the cabin feel dark and, in the back seats it feels particularly closed in with the thick rear three-quarter C-pillar being particularly difficult to see around. For an adult in the back and with the front seats set to suit me, there’s minimal legroom and, combined with the small rear door opening and closed in feeling in the back, with the rear windows small and sitting quite far forward once you’re in the back, makes for an uncomfortable back seat. Sure, the C-HR looks good from the outside, but ergonomically it’s a victim of its aim to create a visual impact from the outside.

2017 Toyota C-HR review

There are ISOFIX mounts for the two outboard seats with Toyota itself saying the C-HR is only intended to transport four people which is good, because the shape of the ‘middle seat’ is awful and the transmission tunnel eats up what little spare foot and legroom there is in the back.

The interior of the C-HR, while a step ahead of other Toyotas, is only aimed at singles and couples. The back seat is just too cramped to be useful for young families. But then, in its defence, the C-HR isn’t really aimed at people like me who have kids.

What’s the boot space like?

The C-HR offers a Corolla-esque 377 litres of space, and while the load height is good there’s a considerable lip that means you’ve got to lift things up and over to either load or unload the boot. The space and shape will suit carrying luggage for a couple but the boot will prove too small for a family. The 60:40 split fold seats are conventional and you can reach the levers to fold down the back seats, mounted on top of the seat shoulders, from the back of the car. Raise the boot floor and there’s a temporary space saver spare wheel, there are small holders to grab the boot floor when you raise it up to access the spare wheel, which is cool. And, it’s worth mentioning the overall quality of the fit and finish of the boot area which is, like the cabin itself, a step ahead of other Toyota product.

2017 Toyota C-HR review by Practical Motoring


What’s the Toyota C-HR like to drive?

Not too damn the C-HR with faint praise but it’s easily the best driving Toyota either side of the 86. The new Toyota New Global Architecture has taken what is essentially a high riding hatchback and made it exciting to drive. Well, at least as exciting as a high-riding hatchback can be. The suspension tune and steering response is good, easily better than, say, a Mazda CX-3 but ultimately not quite as controlled or comfortable as the new XV.

Ignoring the Toyota 86, I never thought I’d write that Toyota had produced a car that’s enjoyable to drive in corners, but the C-HR is just that. There’s minimal bodyroll, and bump control from front to back is excellent with all but the worse sharp-edged hits thumping through into the cabin. The underbody and cabin insulation gives the C-HR an air of premium-ness; this is easily one of the quietest small cars on the market no matter whether you’re driving across bitumen or dirt.

Practical Motoring Says: The Toyota C-HR lacks practicality for more than two people but shows that Toyota knows how to make a runabout that looks as fun as it is to drive.

The C-HR offers all-wheel drive which is an on-demand system with a difference, and that difference is that if the on-board computers detect even the slightest steering wheel movement while accelerating, rather than coasting, then 10% of torque will immediately be shuffled to the rear wheels. You’ll be able to watch this torque transfer in real-time via the display on the multi-function display nestled between the analogue tachometer and speedo.

The only time I got more than 10% of torque to the rear was when I took the C-HR onto a short rough road section and cross-axled it on a very small rock step. There’s very little wheel travel and with one wheel spinning the all-wheel drive system proved to be ordinary, needing my size-11 hoof to be mashed into the carpet before enough momentum could be generated to clamber up the step with the wheel that was off the ground spinning away uselessly.

Of course, the C-HR isn’t a rough road oriented SUV like the Subaru XV and my rough road journey showed the shortcomings in the suspension and all-wheel drive system away from the blacktop where the thing felt excellent. On rough dirt roads filled with deep potholes and ruts the thing bucked and bumped and constantly nudged its jutting snout when being driven very slow and very carefully when negotiating simple washouts.

2017 Toyota C-HR review by Practical Motoring

But the fact the C-HR isn’t comfortable on dirt shouldn’t take away from its on-road prowess because that’s exactly where it’ll spend 99.9% of its time.

Interestingly, there’s little criticism of the C-HR’s engine in reviews of it and not that there should be but given the amount of flack the more powerful Subaru XV cops, I find it interesting. Anyway, there’s only one engine and that is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol making 85kW between 5200-5600rpm and 185Nm of torque between 1500-4000rpm. Our test car had a CVT and the transmission felt very good, was responsive and didn’t have any of the stretchy sensation older CVTs used to have. Probably the only rough spot of the C-HR is its throttle response which exhibits some delay in pick-up but, hey, that’s nit-picking what is an otherwise very accomplished little package.

What about the Toyota C-HR’s safety features?

The Toyota C-HR recently received a five-star ANCAP rating courtesy of testing by Euro NCAP. It scored 33.2 out of 38 for adult protection, 38.0 out of 49 for child occupant protection, 8.2 out of 12 for safety assist systems, and 27.4 out of 42 for pedestrian protection.

As standard, C-HR offers a pre-collision safety system, active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist and reversing camera. All variants are equipped with seven airbags, stability and traction control, auto high beam, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors and hill-start assist control.

So, what do we think about the Toyota C-HR?

The C-HR shows that Toyota’s engineers know how to tune a small car to ride and handle nicely and that the TNGA will be a game changer for Toyota. The C-HR is a cute looking little runabout that offers a little more ground clearance than its road-only siblings, that said, it’s not a full-blown rough-road oriented crossover like the Subaru XV, so, don’t go thinking you can tackle rough hills in the thing.

There are some downsides to the C-HR and that is that it’s a little too cramped in the back seat and the styling will be a case of either love or hate. The infotainment isn’t the flashest of units and there are some odd elements, like the fact you have to plug the USB into the infotainment unit instead of down somewhere on the centre console.

But, if you’re looking for something cute and quirky that’s fun to drive then the C-HR should definitely be on your shopping list.

2017 Toyota C-HR review by Practical Motoring

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's the infotainment like?
What's it like to drive?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: The Toyota C-HR lacks practicality for more than two people but shows that Toyota knows how to make a runabout that looks as fun as it is to drive.

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6 years ago

c-hr: coupe-high rider, that’s why it hides the handles of rear doors to make the car look like a coupe.

6 years ago

I agree – one quick sit in the back seat – it’s really a 2 seater. Many coupes have better outwards visibility, and if I were to put the grandchildren in, I’d be issuing them with PUKE bags.

Tarquin Farquhar the 3rd
Tarquin Farquhar the 3rd
6 years ago

Not bad, however the use of 95 RON, underpowered engine and backwards infotainment are real turnoffs for me.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober