A little spirit, a can-do attitude, add in a whole lotta styling fun, and you have yourself a refreshing summer cocktail called the Toyota C-HR. 

Toyota have created a thing called the C-HR. It’s weird, because it’s actually cool to look at. From the first moment I saw it, I felt as though it was going to be cute, but ultimately not useful. 

After having driven it for a week, I can safely say that it’s slow, has a plasticky interior, doesn’t come with leather (at least for 2018, as the 2019 will be able available with leather). It looks small when parked, and I felt a little odd getting in and out of it at first. 

I can also safely say that it’s roomy -19 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, and 36.4 cu-ft when they’re down, The ceiling feels high when you’re sitting in one of the front seats, and the gas mileage is fantastic. Putting the rear seats down shows off how usable the CH-R can really be. Many types of furniture for your apartment or small home will fit with relative ease in the hatch.

I picked up my friends’ 10-year-old son from school two days that I had the CH-R, and each time I pulled up, kids seemed really impressed. So when you get into the carpool line, another kid opens the door for the child getting into the back seat of the vehicle. This little girl walks up to the C-HR, obviously confused as to where the door handle was… but, incredibly, she found it within a couple of seconds. As she opened the door she said, “Wow, that handle is cool. This must be really expensive,” she then made another comment about the cool looks of the Toyota. Kid tested: kid approved. 

Now let’s talk about price. The XLE Premium in Iceberg roof with Ruby Flare exterior color came standard with the Premium Package, which adds fog lights, smart key system with push button start, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, auto folding mirrors, puddle lamp projection that displays “Toyota C-HR”, heated seats in the front, and driver power lumbar. The XLE’s base price is $25,345, including the $995 destination fee. However, my car had a special color, which adds $395, the color keyed body with white roof and mirrors for another $500 (you can’t get the Ruby Flare with the white roof and mirrors in 2019), carpeted floor and cargo mats at $194, removable cross bars worth $299, and a 3M-like front end paint protection film costing $395. The as-tested price was $27,128. 

Amazingly, the standard safety equipment features a pre-collision warning system that detects pedestrians, lane departure warning with steering assist, auto high beams, radar guided cruise control, and a brake-hold system. With the brake hold feature, press a button and when you come to a full stop, the e-brake is automatically engaged and you can take your foot off the brake pedal. The little Toyota also features a driver’s knee airbag, along with the other airbags. 

The C-HR achieves 27 city and 31 highway miles per gallon, respectively. I averaged 28.8, or roughly the 29 mpg that the EPA estimates you’ll get.

While the baby ‘yota isn’t quick off the line, having a 2-liter 4-banger making 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, it is nimble and pretty entertaining to drive. Around town it is one of the easiest cars to drive. No one will confuse you for the typical crossover crowd, either, which is nice. This isn’t a vehicle with all-wheel drive and wannabe off-road credentials. This is a front-wheel drive vehicle that uses a CVT. The gearbox is, well, okay. It does the job, but it’s not in the top 10 things you’ll like telling everyone about. 

Because of the overall design, which is extremely unique and fun to look at, there are a few inherent drawbacks. Mainly, the rear visibility, which isn’t that great. Luckily there is a backup camera, but the backup camera is in the rearview mirror… instead of the 7-inch touchscreen that doesn’t feature navigation. It makes a lot of sense to me, too. The 2019 Toyota C-HR can be optioned with a navigation system for $1,725, but only if you step up to the $26,000 Limited trim. So you’ll pay $27,725, versus my XLE Premium’s $27,128 monroney. However, that doesn’t include the carpeted mats, paint protection, and the like, that my 2018 tester had optioned. So you’ll be shelling out around 30 grand with the other stuff. I do also feel like the interior plastics could be nicer. They smudge easily, and those smudges and smears stay there until you give the interior a good, deep clean. But let’s be real, who’s really buying the C-HR and cleaning it regularly? 

So who is the C-HR for? Well, really, anybody. But what would me buy a C-HR is if I needed a reliable family cruiser for a newborn, or if I had a few animals. And since I have two dogs and a cat, maybe I’m the right customer… The rear seat is a bit tight, however. And getting in and out of the back isn’t the best for adults. You can get in and out if you’re under six feet tall, but any taller and it’s not going to be the most comfortable. So, if you have a spouse who’s tall, and you expect you could have a massively tall teenager in your later years, maybe I’d step up to the RAV4. 

It really is quite special that such a small and willing little crossover comes with so much. Just from a looks standpoint alone, which I think is a fantastic selling point. Then the safety features that will protect yourself and your young children makes you feel good. 

So I now need to ask myself a question. As a self-proclaimed disliker of crossovers, and the crossover market that feeds BS to the customer base, is the C-HR worthy enough to me that I’d buy one? That’s an interesting question. I think, yeah. I’d prefer to have one with leather, honestly, because the cloth seats pick off all the cat and dog hair from my clothes, and it stays there seemingly forever. But that’s about it. I mean, the car has one-touch windows up and down for both driver control, and passenger control. That’s a feature a Cadillac Escalade can’t be optioned with. And I’ll continue to say it’s one of the most fun cars to look at on the road today. Every time I see one, I honestly stop and take a second look. Every color works for me, too. 

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I want one with a turbo motor, manual gearchange, and maybe all-wheel drive. Only the manual and the extra power and torque are a necessity to me, though. 

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