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Toyota C-HR Review

7 / 10
2 November 2023
Toyota C-HR review front three quarter

Among a sea of conservative-looking SUVs, the Toyota C-HR stands out with sharp, coupe-like styling.

It also throws surprisingly sporty handling and clever hybrid efficiency into the mix.

What we like:
  • Sporty handling
  • Bold styling
  • Reputation for reliability
What we don't like:
  • Practicality lags behind rivals
  • Ride is firm on higher-end trims
  • A little pricier than competitors

Should I buy a Toyota C-HR?

Right now, small SUVs are big business for carmakers, so their cars need to do whatever it takes to stand out. One look at the Toyota C-HR should be enough to tell you which way the Japanese company decided to make its mark. There’s none of the boxy styling you get from some rivals – instead, the C-HR has a dramatically curved coupe-like roofline, deep slashes in its bodywork and big, showpiece headlights to announce its presence.

There are lots of great cars around this price point, though, so the C-HR has its work cut out. Buyers are likely to cross shop it against cars like the Skoda Karoq, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Niro, SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc.

If you like the C-HR’s look and feel, but need a more city-friendly model, check out the Toyota Corolla or Toyota Yaris – both share the C-HR’s clever hybrid tech. In addition, there’s the compact Toyota Yaris Cross and practical Toyota RAV4 which complete the company’s SUV lineup.

Interior and technology

Toyota has tried to continue the C-HR’s outlandish exterior styling inside the cabin. The dashboard is reasonably simple, defined by an elegant convex curve and trimmed with gloss black plastic. There’s fairly complex sculpting on the centre console and door trims but, considering most of the cabin is made from black and dark-coloured materials, the overall impression is a little more conservative than the car’s exterior.

Nevertheless, the sense of quality is high, both in the materials chosen and how firmly they’re screwed together. There are no obvious squeaks or rattles when you hit a bump on the road and none of the switchgear feels flimsy under your fingers.

Infotainment is provided by a standard-fit eight-inch touchscreen system. This includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so it already supports the majority of functions buyers are likely to use everyday. Higher-end trims include an upgraded screen with better resolution and a built-in sat nav system. Neither C-HR infotainment system functions poorly, but both versions look a little dated and are slow to respond compared to the setups found in more recent rivals.


To get your SUV looking as sharp as the C-HR, some sacrifices have to be made and, in this case, it’s practicality that’s taken something of a back seat. You can easily use the C-HR everyday as a family car provided none of your passengers are especially tall, but most rivals in this segment offer a little more cabin space. That’s especially true of models like the Skoda Karoq, which are substantially more spacious for rear-seat passengers, though without the Toyota’s eye-catching looks.

Front seat passengers get lots of room in all dimensions and the driving position is lower and more car-like than some SUVs, helping the C-HR feel sportier and more agile through corners. Those in the back get an acceptable amount of legroom for the class, but headroom is tight thanks to the sloping roof. Plus, the narrow side window adds to the slightly cocoon-like atmosphere.

The boot is another area that’s been slightly compromised by the car’s styling. At 377 litres, there’s enough space to easily carry the weekly shop or a couple of suitcases for a holiday, but rivals in this segment mostly outperform the C-HR. The likes of the Skoda Karoq or Nissan Qashqai make a better choice if outright carrying capacity is a concern for you.

Engines and performance

You won’t find it too hard to choose an engine for your C-HR because there are only three options available on the nearly new market. The sole non-hybrid option is a 1.2-litre turbo petrol. This has 115hp and is enough to get the C-HR up to motorway speeds without complaint. It’s also the only option with a manual gearbox in the lineup, and was only offered until late 2019.

The rest of the C-HR’s engines are full-hybrid petrol setups. That means they can use electric power to creep through traffic without starting the engine and are ‘self-charging’, so don’t need to be plugged in to juice up the battery. All that may sound complicated, but hybrid C-HRs feel just like regular automatic cars to drive, feeling effortlessly smooth in most driving situations. The only drawback of this setup is that it can drone a little under full throttle, so enthusiastic drivers might not enjoy driving this car as much as rival models that have less of a focus on efficiency.

Driving and comfort

It’s a little odd that none of the C-HR’s engines have a particular focus on performance because the handling is surprisingly sporty. The body remains level even during hard cornering where many SUV rivals would be rolling around. Plus, the accurate steering makes it easy and satisfying to place the car neatly in its lane.

The tradeoff for the sharp handling is a firm ride. Things aren’t so bad in entry-level models where the smaller alloy wheels slightly soften hard bumps on the road, but cars equipped with larger wheels – especially GR Sport models with even larger alloys and sports suspension – can jostle passengers about if you hit a pothole or speedbump too aggressively.

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