2020 Toyota C-HR – The Have It All Crossover

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the Toyota C-HR.

We took out a 2020 Toyota C-HR Limited for a week, here is what we found.

Toyota CHR with a Railroad Car Caboose
The 2020 Toyota C-HR Limited – a great car for fun and as a daily driver.

In today’s very crowded small SUV Crossover market segment, consumers have pretty much everything to choose from. Low price leaders to select luxury lifestyle brands and everything in between. We have been testing what is available to the everyman/woman in the under $30K price range recently. Here is our report on the 2020 Toyota C-HR.  In past reviews we have taken out the fancier Evoke from Land Rover and upscale Cadillac and Lincoln products, now we are looking at some of the more affordable options.

While the line between Crossover and SUV is a thin one, this C-HR could easily be an SUV if it had all-wheel drive, which it does not. This is a front-wheel-drive car that feels very solid, planted, and stable on the road. Powered by a 2-Liter Engine Powerplant – the C-HR is powered by a 2- liter DOHC gasoline engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Shift Mode.  This is a c controversial transmission, as many hate it. Though that may have been because early versions from other manufacturers were crude and rough. In this vehicle, I was not bothered by it, other than it was noisy when you stepped on it. Sounding like being inside a barrel, rolling down a hill.  Power and performance were plentiful in my experience with it for a week, either on twisty country roads, the interstate, or city boulevards.  Fuel Economy while in town was poor at first, like 15 mpg, though once I got it out on the highway, it shot up to the upper 20s, a significant improvement.

The 2020 Toyota CH-R Limited we were provided had the only factory options available, the priciest being the black painted roof, a $500 option, and the Supersonic Red Paint a $425 option. That is $925 for the fancy two-tone paint job. Toyota has been offering this paint scheme on the new Camry, and it does stand out. Actually, I think the two-tone paint makes the C-HR quite smart looking. The only other option the C-HR had was the Audio-Plus, for $465. Though there are plenty of dealer-installed options, you can choose from to enhance this four-door-hatchback.

Exterior Styling Modern & Functional

2020 Toyota CHR Rear Door Handle
The rear door handle of the Toyota C-HR is truly different in all ways.

The exterior styling is aggressive and somewhat radical, compared to the suppository shaped competition in this its price range. Often today, you look at a car and ask yourself, what model or brand it is, as they all look so similar. Toyota has done a great job on the C-HR’s design, it is cohesive, and with the choice of colors, and the optional black painted roof, make it a looker for sure.  The design of the side makes the rear door blend into the body, giving it a four-door German coupe look, just better executed.  I was pleased with the build quality of the car, and when you shut the door, you hear a thunk, not a tinny sound. And even the gas door sounds like it is made of metal and not plastic, which is surprising in today’s plastic exterior body part world.

The inside is where you find the most refinement, the dash and driver’s controls are simple and clean, providing no distractions. The black piano finish plastic trim on the dash, makes the interior feel large, providing a clean line from right to left, and fore and aft, as it extends to the center console.  Though it took a bit for me to realize there was a forward cup holder, while I found the one behind the shifter, the one forward, blended into the black and disappeared.

Dash screens are clear and clean, and large, easy to reach and touch.  Though anytime you look at a screen, you take your eyes off the road and the task at hand – driving.  Switches, buttons, and controls, including the shift selector, cruise control, and others are easy large and easy to find and use and feel solid, which is not often the case in newer vehicles. Plenty of details in the gauge cluster, but I still question why a G-Force indicator is necessary for a car like this?  It is not a performance car, and if you are looking at your G-forces while driving, you are taking your eyes off the road.

There is plenty of headroom in this car, both front and rear, due to its tall stance. In the front headliner, there are dimples above both the passenger and driver, which I found odd, though I expect they were for sound deadening. If there was a sunroof option, which there is not from the factory, you would not have them. All of the window glass fully retracts into the doors when they are lowered, which is a big plus, and often something that is overlooked, especially in the rear doors.

This limited model came with leather-trimmed seats, heated for the front, with an 8-way adjustable seat for the driver.  Fold-down split rear seat in the rear to expand the already ample cargo area.  While the 2nd-row is more for two passengers. There is no back seat passenger fold-down center armrest. While there is a center seat belt, whoever sits there, their derrière should not be any wider than 12-inches.  The headroom, front, and rear are plentiful. The rear passenger area does not offer a lot of legroom with the front seats set back, though there is plenty of foot room under those front seats. Two rear cupholders on the doors are great, though, I would have like to see at least one USB power port in the rear.  The C-HR offers no third-row option – it is just too small a vehicle for that, and that is just fine.  Cargo space is quite plentiful for a vehicle of this size and easy to load and unload through the rear doors and hatch.

Disappointments

What I found disappointing, were few and far between. The one complaint I hear is that Toyota and its dealers tend to nickel and dime consumers for add-ons. The only real place I saw that in this car, is almost a grand more for the two-tone paint job. If you are pinching pennies, a single exterior color will look just fine on this car.  I liked it when closing the doors, there is a solid sound, opening them the door handle has a tinny ring you hear, some extra sound deadening material inside the door would eliminate this noise.  The C-HR’s seats are comfortable and well sized for the American behind. The leather trim did not feel that special, to the point you ask what trim, is leather and what is vinyl. With the single USB in the front center, I still needed to use a cord to connect my android device for Google play, which then put maps and apps up on the screen. I understand that Toyota is still working on some security issues for a wireless device data connection.  Though without your phone wired in, you get a message about no map app installed when you hit the map button.  Some of the interior parts will easily disappear or get lost, like the clumsy removable cargo cover, which is large and once, taken out, will be left behind someplace. There is a plastic removable “false” bottom to the cup holder between the front seats, which is designed to accommodate short or tall cups.  That piece will get lost easily in the daily use of a vehicle.   No sunroof or manual transmission, both of which would add to the pleasure of driving this car, though add to the overall price.

Safety Technology

The 2020 Toyota C-HR comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense, which offers a pre-collision system – pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist. This is managed through the cameras that are on all four sides of the vehicle and the radar system that is used to manage the Full-speed range Radar dynamic cruise control. As well as the blind spot monitor and rear traffic alert systems.  Add on to that the 10 airbags and adaptive front LED projector-beam headlamps, and you have a lot of safety for a vehicle in its class and price tag

Toyota CHR Rear Logo
The C-HR insignia could be illuminated, giving it a customized look

Is the C-HR a Hot Rodder’s Canvas

I can see the C-HR being Hopped Up easily by young enthusiasts. What I would do is paint the four-wheel disc brake calipers, either red or shiny black, to match the roof. There is a rear C-HR badge, located dead center at the bottom of the rear bumper, that just called out to me to be lit up. While it is too low to be a (high) brake light, it could just be a simple center light and would look great if it were illuminated.  And any number of other things could be added like a hood scoop, though the already built-in rear spoiler is pretty awesome.

A Supersonic Red with black roof 2020 Toyota C-HR Limited at historic White's Ferry in Maryland on the shores of the Potomac River and the C & O Canal.
The 2020 Toyota C-HR at historic White’s Ferry in Maryland on the shores of the Potomac River and the C & O Canal.

Would I buy this Car

Overwhelmingly, Yes. This would be a great car for a young driver or someone who needs a vehicle with space for passengers and cargo.  And after all, it is a Toyota, so you know it will be around for a long time.  I like the C-HR’s styling inside and out, the price point is excellent, the size and capacity are great for this size vehicle.  The little things that I mentioned above are just that, and you would quickly become unaware of them.  Put the 2020 Toyota C-HR on your test drive and buy list.  If you have not checked one out in person, I suggest you contact your local Toyota dealer and set up a test drive.  And right now,s there are incentives on most vehicles, so work on getting your best deal.

Toyota CHR Center Screen
C-HR’s center screen powered by Waze wired in from an android device.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

Mr. Hopper is a long time automotive enthusiast and has been providing automotive reviews on a variety of cars through several outlets.  We thank Toyota North America for loaning us this test vehicle for a week to review, and DriveShop for providing excellent fleet management of the C-HR.  No compensation was received, other than the use of the car, a full tank of fuel, and if we needed, toll road payments. Though we did not drive on any toll roads during this weeklong experience.


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