1. Looks cool
Let's kiss Toyota's boring image goodbye. The largest volume auto manufacturer in the world is spicing things up with a new design language and new cars, like the '18 C-HR - originally a Scion concept. Right off the bat, you'll notice the subcompact SUV's modern design. It's bold and aggressive, features pronounced fenders, a stylish roofline, and subtle rear door handles that help give it a coupe feel, hence the name "Coupe-High Rider." Not just about getting your attention with its looks, the C-HR has also been engineered with good airflow and a .34 coefficient of drag (same as a R34 Skyline GT-R and EVO X), meaning more vehicle control and better fuel economy. And for its segment, we do have to say it looks far cooler than things like a Juke or HR-V.
2. Drive it daily.
If you need a vehicle that can haul your shit, as well as your friends, remain comfortable to be in everyday, and good on gas, the C-HR checks all of those boxes. The interior is a definite plus. Its front seats are bucket style with a lower seating position and very driver-centric. It also sports some nice touches here and there like the diamond-pattered trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual climate control, and a 7-inch display screen. The rear passenger and trunk space aren't enormous but get the job done; after all, it's still smaller than the company's RAV4 (9 inches shorter and 2 inches narrower). As for fuel economy, 27 city, 31 highway, and 29 combined mpgs is pretty damn good in our book, and will save you plenty at the pump compared to daily driving that boosted project car in your driveway.
3. Handling is sporty.
On the performance end of things, the C-HR doesn't blow you away right off the bat. It's powered by a 144hp, 139 lb.-ft. of torque, 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a rather sluggish CVT automatic - not to mention it only comes in front-wheel drive in North America. However, where it compensates is with its handling. We're always a little reserved to pound on vehicles in the SUV and subcompact SUV segments, but the C-HR wanted us to push it hard around the corners during our test drive in Austin, Texas. It responds well to driver input, it's easy to steer and didn't give us any unexpected hiccups. We should also note the C-HR's chief engineer is Hiro Koba, who has a huge background in motorsport and even races open-wheel racecars to this day. Koba-san went to the lengths of extensively abusing the C-HR at the Nurburgring before the vehicle went to production. He also supported the 24-Hour Nurburgring program for the Gazoo Racing C-HR in '16. Because of all this, the C-HR has a chassis that performs almost like a sports car, much thanks to an independent front suspension with large Sachs dampers, plus a double wishbone rear. The suspension and steering is dialed-in from the factory, and we can only imagine what a set of good coilovers and thicker sway bars can offer.
4. Aftermarket support.
We're not just blowing smoke up your ass; our friends in Japan have already warmly received the C-HR. We saw plenty of examples at Tokyo Auto Salon and Osaka Auto Messe this year. Companies like Kansai and Blitz are making bolt-on upgrades for the C-HR and there won't be a shortage of aero mods and lip kits in the market as well, with brands like TRD, Modellista, Wald, Artisan Spirit, 326 Power, and more with parts already available.
5. Won't break the bank.
The C-HR will be available in two trim lines: XLE and XLE Premium, and starts at $22,500. It's not the cheapest in its segment, nor does it cost an arm and a leg, but it really offers great value that's hard for us to ignore. It's a small SUV that gets the job done, looks cool, handles surprisingly well, and makes for a slick daily driver.