One of the coolest and most drive-dynamic looking vehicles on the road today just happens to wear the Toyota Bull Horns. CH-R is fat, chunky, and exhibits enough chassis clearance to roam off road. Yet that is but one of the counter intuitive shortfalls of Toyota CH-R; it doesn’t come to market with an all-wheel-drive, or real-time 4 wheel drive option.
The all-wheel drive short fall is #1 on our important purchase considerations list when buying an all weather vehicle for anywhere but the Sun Belt. Or, Southern California -- smack dab in the middle of the decades long ongoing sales battle for car brand supremacy between Japanese auto maker rivals Honda and Toyota. Coming to market a year behind Honda’s well received HR-V, you won’t find an all-wheel drive option for Toyota CH-R.
Which one’s best for you? CH-R, HR-V or Mazda CX-3 ?
Toyota’s very sporty looking compact crossover brings its own unique twist to a competition held primarily between CH-R, Honda HR-V and Mazda 3. When looking to price point, dimensions, standard equipment, available options, and fuel efficiency, this competition is too close to call. That is, until we take a closer look at the remaining 2 items of contention. I compare Honda HR-V and Mazda 3 here.
Unless you’re a 5’ 2 inch 100 lb Aerobics instructor, forget about sitting in C-HR’s row 2.
Up front, CH-R is roomy and well appointed. Our $27,000 fully optioned CH-R is edgy-dynamic in an historically correct Fanboy club-car sort of way. Although not as powerful under the hood as Ford Focus, or Honda Civic Hatchback Sport, Toyota’s 4-place compact hatchback comes to market with an exceptional ride dynamic. Its interior is relatively quiet, and, when the driver's seat is adjusted back accordingly. my knees are off the dash -- I appreciate that. And frankly, it’s quick enough for most applications.
CH-R sports great looking edgy design
I like the overall dashboard layout, center stack and thoughtful layout of all controls. What I don’t appreciate is Toyota’s jab at complying to the soon to arrive backup camera regulations by integrating a tinny color display in the rear view mirror. Cute, yet rarely effective. Whatever, that’s a personal observation, some may love it. So, #2 on my complaint list is rear seat legroom (none) and, visibility from row two forward and through the second row window-- there is little to none. For the E.V. fan, Toyota Prius hits a new stride in comfort and range.
Here’s the biggy: 2018 Toyota CH-R fails the driver’s seat comfort test
It’s interesting: Toyota engineering opted to fit CH-R’s fabric covered, mechanical slide, and hand crank adjusted drivers seat with power lumbar adjust. Seriously? Here’s the thing, and I had 3-driver’s confirm it: No matter how adjusted, our fully equipped, fun to drive, CH-R fails the critical Drivers Seat test.
Seriously, the seat is stiff, lumpy, bumpy and limited as to elevated adjustment. Unfortunately for our 3 test drivers, ranging in age, height, and weight, all returned from extended drives with back, hip, or neck pain. So, #3 on our complaint list is seat comfort. And, initial seat comfort is foremost when considering a new car purchase or lease.
On the plus side: I appreciate the drive dynamic and relative interior quiet experienced behind the wheel of CH-R. There’s no arguing the fact that Toyota's compact sport hatchback is a head turner. CH-R takes its rightful place on our top 10 list for under $30,000 compact hatchbacks. It’s not a bad little commuter, and does afford the utility of a flat hauling platform with row-2 folded to the down position. Hey Toyota! Upgrade the drivers seat, add a couple of inches of legroom in row 2, and I’ll buy one.
Highs: Cutting edge good looks, quite inferior, good hansling, great fuel efficiency
Lows: No all wheel drive, small volume interior, stiff, uncomfortable driver’s seat.