2021 Toyota C-HR Review
The 2021 C-HR is an extra-small crossover SUV that sits at the bottom of Toyota's lineup. It serves as an entry-level model akin to the Yaris or the Corolla. Like everything in this class, the C-HR counts flashy styling as part of its appeal, though we're split on how well the design works in person.
Changes for 2021 are limited to the addition of more standard driver aids and a new trim level, though the C-HR had an update in 2020 that brought with it new front-end styling and more features, including LED headlights and Android Auto smartphone compatibility. Overall, the C-HR is a decent choice but lags behind rivals such as the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul and Mazda CX-30. Learn more about the C-HR's strengths and weaknesses by reading the categories of our Expert Rating.
The C-HR is well built and returns good fuel economy. Unfortunately, it's slow. Very slow. This characteristic hinders what is otherwise a likable subcompact crossover SUV.
How does the C-HR drive?
It's difficult to recommend a vehicle as sluggish as the Toyota C-HR. Its four-cylinder engine simply can't muster enough power to get the C-HR going with any authority. At Edmunds' test track, we logged a 0-60 mph time of 10.6 seconds. That's slower than other small crossovers and hatchbacks. It's even slower than a Toyota Prius.
But the C-HR holds its own in other categories. The brake pedal is easy to modulate, so it's easy to stop smoothly, and the steering is easy to twirl around at low speeds and accurate in sporty situations. The C-HR is also somewhat entertaining to drive on a twisty road even if there's a distinct lack of grip from the tires.
How comfortable is the C-HR?
The C-HR's seats are well cushioned and supportive, and the suspension smooths out most bumps in the road. The cabin is a pleasant place to be whether you're a driver or passenger.
That said, the C-HR isn't built for less than perfect conditions. We noticed that larger patches of rough pavement can easily upset the ride quality and create a lot of noise in the cabin. It isn't very well insulated from outside noise, and any wind gusts stronger than a light breeze are quite loud inside.
How’s the interior?
Getting in and out of the C-HR is easy thanks to its elevated seating position. There's also plenty of headroom up front. The rear seats have enough room to keep regular-size adults in decent comfort, but the thick rear roof pillars might make them feel a little claustrophobic.
The C-HR's simple control layout is attractive, and the main controls are easy to operate for the most part. But some of the more advanced features such as the adaptive cruise control are a little more difficult to figure out. It's pretty easy to see out of the front of the C-HR, but those thick rear roof pillars obscure your view to the back.
How’s the tech?
The C-HR comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that is simple to read and operate through the menus. It connects with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via smartphones, and an effective navigation system is available. The audio system provides decent clarity, but the sound quality, especially for songs with thumping bass, quickly degrades when the volume rises.
We're fans of the driver safety aids included in the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite, which is standard on all C-HR models. The lane-keeping alert system can be overzealous in its warnings when you're driving on a twisty road, but it's otherwise helpful. The adaptive cruise control is very good at reducing driver fatigue in heavy traffic and can bring the vehicle down to a smooth stop.
How’s the storage?
Storage space is tight inside the C-HR. Rear trunk space is about average for the class at 19 cubic feet. You can fold down the rear seats to access 37 cubic feet of capacity, but that figure ranks low compared to the competition. Space for small items is adequate up front, though the center console is only average size. The cupholders are on the small side and awkwardly positioned.
Planning to put kids in the back? Car seat anchors are positioned well, but there's little room to install a rear-facing child safety seat without moving the front seats forward. Overall the C-HR is compromised by its quirky shape and size, and Toyota did not bring any of its trademark smart storage solutions to the table.
How’s the fuel economy?
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 29 mpg combined (27 city/31 highway), which is about average for the class. We found the rating accurate, and even exceeded it with an average of 33.9 mpg on our 115-mile mixed-driving evaluation route.
Is the C-HR a good value?
The C-HR offers solid build quality and distinctive materials for the class. We also like the amount of standard safety equipment Toyota includes and the two years of free scheduled maintenance. But the C-HR isn't as affordably priced as some value-minded competitors.
The distinctive styling alone earns Toyota points for bravery. Most people fall into one of two categories: They love the C-HR's design, or they hate it. Those who like it will find the rest of the vehicle filled with personality, from swooping dashboard lines to interesting trapezoid designs pressed into the ceiling. But just about everyone will find that the lack of power can sour the driving experience.
Which C-HR does Edmunds recommend?
We suggest going with the midlevel XLE trim. Compared to the base LE trim, you get keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring and larger alloy wheels for not much more money.
Toyota C-HR models
The 2021 Toyota C-HR is available in four trim levels: LE, XLE, Nightshade and Limited. All C-HRs are powered by a four-cylinder engine that produces 144 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard, as is front-wheel drive. Unlike some other small crossover SUVs, all-wheel drive is unavailable on the C-HR.