CARS.COM — Austin, Texas is odd, which makes it a fitting place for my introduction to Toyota’s newest model, the C-HR. But where the Texas city is quirky and charming, the C-HR is odd in more of an awkward, socks-with-sandals kind of way.
The subcompact SUV originally debuted as a Scion concept from Toyota’s now-defunct youth-oriented brand. After some retooling, it resurfaced at the 2016 L.A. Auto Show under the Toyota badge, but the automaker said its target audience hasn’t changed: young millennial-generation buyers. Its scattered heritage is evident in its odd packaging, however. Although it injects a dose of eye-popping style into Toyota’s otherwise sleepy lineup and offers an impressive list of standard safety features, major driving and multimedia shortcomings stand out.
How It Looks
Stimulating styling is not a Toyota hallmark, but the C-HR bucks that trend — for better or worse. From some viewpoints, it looks like an awkward pile of elbows and knees and recently earned a spot on our ugly cars list. From others, it looks modern and edgy. It retained much of the concept car’s radical styling, including its raked roofline, sharp angles and slicing bodyside character lines. Toyota further amped up the rear with protruding, boomerang taillights and an aggressive wing.
C-HR stands for Coupe-High Rider, and designers said it’s meant to combine elements of a coupe and an SUV. The fastback roofline and hidden rear door handles nail the coupe angle, but the SUV ingredients are less genuine. It sits higher off the ground than a traditional car and wears large, standard 18-inch wheels as well as rugged looking fenders and body cladding, but it’s all for show: All-wheel drive is unavailable, making it more hatchback than SUV.