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Toyota C-HR 2020 review

Tweaked rather than renewed, the C-HR has been improved in all the right places
EXPERT RATING
8
The new C-HR has arrived looking just like the last one, which is a good thing. But then there are the changes you may not have spotted straight away.

You know the Distracted Boyfriend internet meme? The one where the guy is checking out another lady while his disgusted girlfriend glares at him?

That’s how I reckon other small SUVs felt about their owners checking out the Toyota C-HR when it first arrived in Australia in 2017 with its futuristic, over-the-top, cool styling.

Now, if me actually attempting to translate a meme (and purely a visual gag at that) hasn’t put you off then chances are you’re likely to read this review about the updated C-HR which has just landed, looking like nothing has changed except for the price.

Well, there are changes – some are big such as the addition of a hybrid to the range and a new media system, and some aren’t as noticeable, like the tweaks to the C-HR’s face.

This review will take you through the new prices, reveal the features and safety tech, and tell you what it’s like to drive. And, I promise, no more meme explanations.

Toyota C-HR 2020: STANDARD (2WD)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$29,540

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

The updated C-HR comes with a small price increase. The update also sees the manual variant dropped from the C-HR line-up. This leaves the front-wheel drive (FWD) base-spec C-HR with the auto transmission as the entry point into the model and the price of this has increased by $550 to $29,540, while the all-wheel drive (AWD) costs another $2000.

The Koba grade with FWD now starts at $33,940 (a $650 increase), with the AWD commanding that $2000 price premium.

The updated C-HR comes with a small price increase. The updated C-HR comes with a small price increase.

New to the range and now the priciest C-HR is the FWD Koba Hybrid at $36,440.

Coming standard on the entry-level C-HR is an 8.0-inch touchscreen (which replaced the previous 6.1-inch display), sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker stereo, fabric seats, LED headlights and running lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Stepping up to the Koba adds 18-inch alloys, privacy glass, leather upholstery, heated front seats, panoramic camera and proximity unlocking.

Is it good value. Sorry for the bad language: gosh yes. Rivals to the C-HR include the Honda HR-V, Mitsubishi ASX and the new Kia Seltos.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard with the C-HR. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard with the C-HR.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Absolutely – just look at it. Toyota could have easily just done an SUV version of the Corolla and kept it conservative looking, but they’ve gone all out and risked creating something that might not be to everybody’s tastes, and the company should be commended for the bravery.

The C-HR’s styling is adventurous with that big, fat face, pumped-up wheel guards and protruding tail-lights. Tweaks in this update really are limited to redesigned front and rear bumpers.

I’m a fan of two-tone roofs on all cars and the option to get it on the C-HR enhances the puffed-up body.

The C-HR isn’t a big SUV. The C-HR isn’t a big SUV.

I’d say the C-HR has the most interesting cabin of all current Toyotas. Take a close look at the images of the interior with its textured materials and diamond patterns. The new bigger screen really is the only change to the cabin in this update.

You can spot a top-of-the-range Koba from the entry grade C-HR by the privacy glass and larger 18-inch alloy wheels.

The C-HR isn’t a big SUV. Want the dimensions? The C-HR is 4309mm long, 1795mm wide and 1565mm tall. Ah, but is it practical? Let’s talk about that below.

The C-HR’s styling is adventurous with that big, fat face, pumped-up wheel guards and protruding tail-lights. The C-HR’s styling is adventurous with that big, fat face, pumped-up wheel guards and protruding tail-lights.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The answer varies between “oh, wow” and “oh, dear”. Oh, wow in terms of rear legroom, because even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with space to spare (even headroom is good); also, in terms of boot space – because there’s 318 litres.

Oh, dear in terms of the cool-looking rear door handles being so high (small children might not be able to reach them) and the how visibility is reduced for those sitting in the second row by the way the window line kicks up.

That said, cabin storage is good with four cupholders (two in the back and two up front), decent-sized door pockets, a deep centre console bin and a large hidey hole in front of the shifter.

What’s missing? Not much. Wireless charging would be good, but still there’s a 12-volt outlet and a USB port.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The C-HR comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system.

The petrol variant has a 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder engine making 85kW/185Nm. Unfortunately, a manual gearbox isn’t offered any more, but there is a CVT auto and you can choose between a two-wheel drive or AWD.

The hybrid combines a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (72kW/142Nm) and an electric motor (53kW/163Nm).  Toyota says the combined power output of the engine and motor is 90kW. A CVT auto does the honours here, too.

The C-HR comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system. The C-HR comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system.

The C-HR is screaming out for a powertrain that offers more grunt – imagine a Gazoo Racing variant?

Until that happens my pick is the hybrid, the little nudges of torque the electric motor provides while cruising along are great and you’ll save fuel, too. Read about that next.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Let’s start with the petrol C-HR. Toyota says the FWD car should use 6.4L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads while the AWD uses a smidge more at 6.5L/100km. The petrol engine requires 95 RON premium unleaded.

The hybrid (which is FWD only) is the mileage hero with Toyota saying the combined fuel economy is 4.3L/100km. Urban fuel economy is even better at 3.8L/100km. The petrol engine used in the hybrid system requires 91 RON unleaded.

The Australian launch of the C-HR was on country roads – the hilly, winding, fast sort which should really use up lots of petrol, but after 50km the trip computer said the hybrid C-HR was using an average of 4.9L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Toyota C-HR scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2017. Coming standard across the range is advanced safety equipment such as AEB with pedestrian detection, active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assistance, auto high beam, and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert.

All C-HRs also come with seven airbags, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

For child seats there are three top tether points and two ISOFIX points across the second row.  

Both grades come with a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor.

All C-HRs also come with seven airbags, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. All C-HRs also come with seven airbags, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

The C-HR is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Hybrid versions are also covered by the same warranty including the battery.

Servicing of the petrol and hybrid variants is recommended annually or every 15,000km with the first four services capped at $195.

The C-HR is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The C-HR is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Don’t dismiss the C-HR as being all about the way it looks. This is one of the best driving small SUVs at this price point. There are more popular ones which don’t ride, steer or handle anywhere near as well as the C-HR, and that’s down to the new-generation platform which also underpins the new-gen Corolla.

Until this update only the 1.2-litre turbo petrol was available in Australia and now the hybrid variant has arrived to join it.

I drove them back-to-back at the Australian launch and was reminded how the 1.2-litre with the CVT just seemed to lack the oomph that this SUV could easily handle.

The C-HR is one of the best driving small SUVs at this price point. The C-HR is one of the best driving small SUVs at this price point.

There’s a 2.0-litre version of the car in the United States and I can’t help but feel we’ve been shortchanged in missing out on that gruntier car.

The hybrid became my pick of the two and not just because it’s way more fuel efficient - it was more fun to drive. I enjoyed the little nudges the electric motor gave when I dabbed accelerator while cruising.

Dab the accelerator in the petrol-only C-HR and as with most turbocharged cars there’s a lag or delay and with a CVT there’s a lot of noise before anything happens. The responsiveness from the hybrid won me over.

The suspension in the hybrid C-HR is different to the petrol, too. The hybrid car’s ride felt softer and more comfortable while the petrol sibling was firmer and a bit sportier feeling.

The hybrid was way more fun to drive. The hybrid was way more fun to drive.

Verdict

Not making huge design changes is very Toyota – look at the LandCruiser and the 86 – and if anything, keeping the same styling could improve the resale vale of you C-HR if you decide to part with it down the track. The changes that have been made are good ones: the new, bigger screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and a hybrid.

The sweet spot in the C-HR range is the FWD petrol entry grade, but if money had nothing to do with it, I’d pick the hybrid Koba for sure.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Pricing Guides

$33,215
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$29,540
Highest Price
$36,890

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
KOBA (2WD) 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $33,940 2020 Toyota C-HR 2020 KOBA (2WD) Pricing and Specs
KOBA (2WD) (HYBRID) 1.8L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $36,440 2020 Toyota C-HR 2020 KOBA (2WD) (HYBRID) Pricing and Specs
KOBA (2WD) TWO TONE 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $34,390 2020 Toyota C-HR 2020 KOBA (2WD) TWO TONE Pricing and Specs
KOBA (2WD) TWO TONE (HYBRID) 1.8L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $36,890 2020 Toyota C-HR 2020 KOBA (2WD) TWO TONE (HYBRID) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Price and features9
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption8
Safety8
Ownership9
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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