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For decades, Toyota spent its years of production being one of the most dreary, apathetic, uninspiring brands on the road. After being called ordinary for so long, they felt it was time for a change. The CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, doesn’t want this title to follow their products anymore and has made it a goal to bring inspiration and aspiration to their brand. Well, with the introduction of the Toyota C-HR, it definitely doesn’t look boring.

Now that compact crossovers are more popular than ever, Toyota’s stab at the market is quite an interesting venture. The C-HR was to be a Scion badge holder before it was killed off like a depraved satellite radio show. With this cute-ute on its way to production, it made no sense to drop it, so Toyota moved forward with planning and development and voila the C-HR raised from the ashes to explorer a world that extends as far as the asphalt.

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Ironically enough, C-HR stands for “Coupe, High Rider” – which is funny really, because the C-HR is neither a coupe nor really a high riding crossover. It’s more like a bulkier hatchback with larger wheels and considering how many times we scraped the front plastic spoiler just pulling in and out of our driveway, there is no off-road pedigree behind its personality. Therefore, the C-HR is only offered in front-wheel drive with no plans to offer an all-wheel drive system.

As cities keep getting bigger, the need for a large car grows smaller. The C-HR expresses its home for the city life through its dispirited 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Distributing 144-horsepower, the C-HR is zippy through city streets with its CVT transmission and offers a little bit of fun through some of the right and left handers we make at the intersections. However, that’s where the entertainment stops. The C-HR isn’t much of a highway go-getter – it takes just over a lousy 11-seconds to 60 mph and at high rates of highway speeds, the CVT struggles to keep course when called upon for more power to pass. Not that much passing will be done as it should be best to stick to the slow lane. Given the nature of the C-HR demeanor, it rides almost like a premium crossover with a comfortable suspension setup while providing feel for the road beneath. Maintaining body roll and composure, the C-HR carries itself well with confidence and so we therefore question, who really designed this chassis – it doesn’t feel very Toyota-like.

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The C-HR does offer a little bit of fun through its drive modes with the option between the normal, sport and eco settings – considering the modes are hard to get to, it’s highly unlikely the owner will ever change its drive mode. Around town, ECO mode was a little more spry than we expected while maintaining 25 mpg in the city. During our 250 mile highway run, the C-HR pulled through with an impressive 32 mpg though its small fuel tank only allowed for 200 miles of range, which was unfortunate.

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There is no doubt that this is one funky crossover – it gets its coupe-like inspiration through its design while incorporating four doors. Everything about the C-HR is weird and polarizing – while we may not care for our $500 White Roof and Radiant Green body, it definitely has a unique flavor that we like. Everything feels proportion to its size given its bulky character and even with its standard, 18-inch wheels, it offers an attractive stance – given in the right color of course.

IMG_3735.jpgConsidering that this was to be a Scion product, there was accentually going to be one trim, but now with Toyota involved there are two trims available, XLE and XLE Premium.  Our tester, being the entry level XLE came with a $22,500 price tag and bag load of nifty features. Standard across the board, the C-HR gets a back-up camera with a little view in the rearview mirror, touch screen infotainment system with text messaging alerts, dual-zone climate control and all of Toyota’s standard safety senses system: lane departure warning with lane keep assist, forward collision warning with autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam assist.

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The interior is just as groovy as the exterior with a hosh-posh of patterns and design. With the use of more than average plastic bits, the C-HR does have a economy, budget cut feel. It’s masked by all the unique diamond patterns and fashionable indent patterns in the doors panels, speakers and even the headliner. Toyota tried to make the C-HR as much fun as possible without going over the top. The seats feature a rhythmic pattern while also utilizing a durable fabric and offer a semi-comfortable atmosphere. The rear seats are even slightly usable for adults under the height of 5’-10” with adequate rear leg room, as long as it’s for a short period of time. Serving has a lifted hatchback on steroids, there is also enough cargo capacity for larger objects – though an IKEA run may not be wise in the future, the rear seats fold like any traditional vehicle with a 60/40 split.

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The C-HR is one interesting crossover that stands out from the crowd with its harmonious magnetism. It offers a unique city experience with the ability to still strap a kayak to the roof and drive out to the lake – as long as the road is paved. However as its competition like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, and the all-new Ford EcoSport – they all offer all-wheel capabilities and more premium interiors. But if you want something different and enjoy the attention of wandering lookie-lues, than the C-HR is a tough one to pass up.

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Vehicle Specifications:
2018 Toyota C-HR: $22,500
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $24,969
Performance Specs:
2.0-liter Four-Cylinder – 144-Horsepower, CVT Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±11.0 seconds
EPA MPG: 27/31/29 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 23.5 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±250 Miles