Stick Shift: 2019 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

If it’s personality and visual panache that you’re after, but your budget is a little tight, Toyota may have good news for you. And this good news comes in the shape and form of a small crossover called the C-HR. Though many will have reservations about its bold styling, the C-HR isn’t shy in its extremely extroverted design. With a sloping roof, raked windshield and rising window line, it would seem every sporty indulgence was utilized. Expressive taillights stick way out from the back. A contrast-colored roof can be sprinkled in for an extra $500. Front headlights wrap tightly into the wheel wells and side stampings press deeply into the frame. Tricks like these help to visually shrink down the C-HR, making the cabin space bigger than the outside would suggest. One thing’s for sure though, there’s nothing subtle about the new Toyota C-HR.

Trick door handles positioned near the roof line will let rear occupants into a slightly cramped and oddly dark back seat. Lack of light can be attributed to small rear windows and chunky roof pillars. Unfortunately, even the passenger seat has its issues, with a glove compartment that intrudes into the space of anyone with longer legs. Suffice it to say, it’s directly behind the steering wheel that you’ll be most comfortable. Thankfully, vehicle and media controls are a breeze with a large 8” touchscreen display that even comes ready with Apple CarPlay. A heavily textured and hexagonal shaped material lines the doors and adds a unique touch to an interior I found a little muted compared to the vehicles loud exterior.

Photo via: Toyota

In the performance category, the Toyota C-HR delivers up 144 horsepower through a tragically overworked 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. A CVT transmission will get you up to speed in the most un-lively manner possible. The existence of a “Sport” mode, that lets the CVT simulate actual gear changes help to resuscitate the formula a little. I would’ve timed a 0-60 run, but the phone I was using as a stopwatch died somewhere around 45 mph. 

The actual driving isn’t all bad news though. Surprising steering and good handling help redeem the 2019 Toyota C-HR in some big ways. It has front strut braces with Sachs dampers, a thick front stabilizer bar and independent double wishbone rear suspension. This combination mixes a little magic, making the C-HR a genuinely fun car to toss around. If only a turbo option was available to up the power output a little more. 

While the C-HR won’t appeal to everyone, the base model comes in at just under $22,000. For that price, you’ll be impressed with the list of standard safety and tech features. You even get 17” alloy wheels! This is undeniable value for anyone looking for a safe, visually arresting four-door crossover with proven Toyota reliability. The Limited edition will add heated seats, leather and other creature comforts. If you like its looks, and don’t mind the severe lack of acceleration, the C-HR is worth some serious consideration.

Price as tested: $29,073.00

By: Brandon Randall 

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