Toyota C-HR: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

We Like: Interesting styling, flat handling

We Don’t Like: Lacks features. No capability or utility—not an SUV

The C-HR generated endless debate about whether it qualified as an SUV. We even asked Toyota if it ought to compete in Car of the Year instead, but Toyota insisted it’s an SUV.

Angus MacKenzie disagreed: “To call it an SUV is as cynical a piece of marketing as has ever been perpetrated on unsuspecting car buyers. The C-HR proves there are limits to what should be labeled an SUV.”

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Indeed, the C-HR has 0.8 inch less ground clearance than a Corolla sedan and fails three of five EPA criteria defining an SUV (axle clearance, running clearance, and approach angle). A fourth measurement, breakover angle, is not provided in the spec sheet, but the C-HR likely fails that, as well. Moreover, the C-HR is only offered with front-wheel drive in the U.S. This became an immediate issue on the off-road evaluation loop, where it got stuck repeatedly.

Judges also took issue with the C-HR on-road. The powertrain was resoundingly derided for being too slow. The rear seat offers a cavelike experience accessible only via fingernail-snapping door handles placed near the roofline. And the infotainment system has an aftermarket appearance and lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is unthinkable in a vehicle marketed toward millennials.

There were kind words for its unique styling, fun handling, and funky interior with embossed diamond motif. But the C-HR’s lack of capability, utility, and features is made all the more galling by the availability of all-wheel drive, a hybrid powertrain, and a modern infotainment system in global markets. A frustrating entry.

Read about other 2018 SUV of the Year contenders:

  • Audi Q5
  • BMW X4
  • Buick Enclave
  • Buick Encore
  • Buick Envision
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • GMC Terrain
  • Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Jeep Compass
  • Maserati Levante
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
  • Mini Countryman
  • Nissan Rogue Sport
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country

2018 Toyota C-HR
BASE PRICE $ 23,545
PRICE AS TESTED $ 25,539
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/144-hp/139-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,286 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 103.9 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 171.2 x 70.7 x 61.6 in
0-60 MPH 10.3 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.9 sec @ 77.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 137 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 27/31/29 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 125/109 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68 lb/mile

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