2018 Toyota C-HR

Toyota promises to entrench itself even further in the hearts and markets of the North American automotive industry with the release of the 2018 Toyota C-HR. The startlingly stylish subcompact SUV is up for grabs in two trim-lines: the XLE ($22,500) and the XLE Premium ($24,350). This offering actually started life as a concept under the Scion flag, while the name, C-HR, stands for Coupe High-Rider, riding on the firm’s signature Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) — and actually riding, contrary to its name, relatively rather low.

There’s a real sense of feistiness, which, even with its chest puffed to the max, is slightly smaller than the Toyota RAV4, but should easily stand toe to toe with the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Subaru’s Crosstrek. Behind the beefy facade sits a 2-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 144-horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. One bugbear is that at present, neither model offers an all-wheel-drive option (both are front-wheel drive). Why not? We don’t know.

As for the C-HR’s driving and handling specs, it was developed on tracks such as the legendary Nürburgring circuit, sporty technologies such as that TNGA C-platform (low center of gravity, lightweight and high strength), newly developed MacPherson strut front suspension with SACHS dampers, and all-new double wishbone suspension, perform nicely and truly put to the test.

Standard goodies across the range include 18-inch wheels, a rearview camera (on the rear view mirror), and automatic high beams. Provided safety features in Toyota’s Safety Sense P suite includes forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, and full-speed-range dynamic cruise control. Toyota is also kindly chucking in ten standard airbags. Opt for the XLE Premium and you can sleep and drive easy (not at the same time), thanks to blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and heated front seats. The roomy interior can be bolstered by the 60/40 split folding seat at the back.

The relaxing cabin affords quite the contrast to the aggressive exterior styling, affording an air of spaciousness and modernity. Atop the angled dash a raised 7-inch multimedia screen is easy to spot with a glance, while a 4.2-inch multifunction display is propped up either side by the gauges. There’s an AM/FM/HD radio, one USB port and audio jack, and Bluetooth with voice recognition is also standard. The steering wheel is cloaked in some lovely leather while the exterior mirrors are power-folding and heated. Upgrade for a keyless start.

Standard colors for the C-HR includes Ruby Flare Pearl, Blizzard Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, and Black Sand Pearl. To further dress up your C-HR, it can be outfitted in R-Code where the body color comes in your choice of Blue Eclipse Metallic, Ruby Flare Pearl, and Radiant Green Mica, and rooftop, side mirrors, and A-pillar are white.