Over the past five years, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda has talked about the need to bring to market vehicles whose emotional designs stir the heart at least as much as their reliability and dependability have for so long appeased the head.
Cue the production-ready C-HR.
“The C-HR looks like nothing we’ve ever created,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division to automotive journalists who gathered today at the Los Angeles Auto show for the unveiling of the newest addition to Toyota’s crossover lineup. “It ushers in a new era of Toyota style.”
That’s true in more ways than one.
Immediately obvious is this coupe-high rider’s bold exterior lines. Deputy Chief Engineer Hiro Koba collaborated with a team of global designers, guided by the theme of an iconic diamond gemstone. The result is an urban-dwelling vehicle that’s sexy, muscular and distinctive. These un-Toyota-like attributes were introduced in the form of a Scion concept vehicle at this show a year ago. And, it would appear, they’ve been carried forward faithfully in the production version.
But there’s more to this story of transformation than a flashy exterior. Less noticeable but just as significant are the C-HR’s engineering underpinnings, which build on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). That’s the same adaptable platform that gave rise to the latest generation Prius and will serve as the foundation for all Toyota vehicles going forward.
And that’s not all. Koba is a racer at heart. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the C-HR, honed in extensive testing on the famed Nurburgring
racing circuit, feels as exhilarating as it looks.
Still, it’s the C-HR’s exterior that creates that all-important positive first impression. The departure from the norm starts at its nose, where two slim projector-beam halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights wrap deep into the vehicle’s toned shoulders—nearly all the way into the front quarter panels. This makes the C-HR look wider than it is, promoting an aggressive and athletic stance.
Deep, curvy character lines merge into the narrower core body, then run below slender windows and above the rear wheels where they meet up with a high beltline and distinctive B-pillars with integrated door handles. In the rear, the tail lamps protrude outward and a lip spoiler and functional top wing taper neatly inboard.
Viewed in profile, you’ll see the diamond shape set on its side. Powerful fender arches housing the extra-large 18-inch aluminum wheels accentuate the C-HR’s sturdy posture.
On the inside, diamond-inspired accents abound throughout a modern and spacious driver-centric “MeZone.” Examples include the designs of the dual-zone climate controls, speaker surrounds and black headliner above the front passenger seats. A slightly angled dashboard contributes to a clear view of the road ahead. And the C-HR’s slender profile, small diameter steering wheel would feel right at home in a sports car.
Bolstered bucket seats help keep passengers snug and comfortable. And clever design elements ensure the C-HR is just as practical-minded as it is pulse-quickening. You’ll find plenty of cup holders and small item storage cubbies as well as a rear cargo area that can be expanded via a 60/40 split rear seatback for optimal versatility.
Koba took full advantage of TNGA to make sure the C-HR is just as much fun to drive as it is to look at. Critical components include its:
- 144-horsepower 2.0-liter I4 engine with Variable Valve Timing and Valvematic
- Continuously variable automatic transmission with simulated 7-speed Sequential Shiftmatic
- MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension
- Column-type Electronic Power Steering system.
In Normal mode, the C-HR promises to be fuel efficient, smooth and quiet. But for more spirited performance, the driver can engage the Sport mode, increasing the responsiveness of the throttle, shortening the transmission’s artificial “step-up” shifts and maintaining higher engine speed—all in the service of increased acceleration.
The C-HR will be offered in two well-equipped trim levels. Key XLE standard features include:
- Power fold and heated side mirrors
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror with backup camera
- Electric parking brake
- Dual-zone climate control
- 7-inch touchscreen audio system display
XLE Premium adds:
- Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Heated front seats
- Power lumbar driver’s seat
- Smart Key with Push Button Start
The clincher? Both models will come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P. This multi-feature advanced safety suite bundles:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
- Automatic High Beams
- Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
- Hill-Start Assist Control
Simply put: the C-HR is the right vehicle at the right time. It completes Toyota’s portfolio of crossovers—from the RAV4 to the Highlander—just as this market segment is shifting into high gear. Fay predicted that, industry-wide, customers will purchase more than 1 million compact crossovers annually by 2020.
“The key to crafting ever-better vehicles is the passion we put into them,” said Fay. “They are proactive, not reactive. They are compelling machines that broaden our horizons and, in doing so, introduce us to new passionate buyers.”
By Dan Miller