Toyota C-HR 2017 review

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Front seat interior of Toyota C-HR 2017

Toyota C-HR 2017 Price:$28,990 + ORC.

Engine: 1.2L 4cyl turbo-petrol
Safety: Autonomous emergency braking, 7 airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning.
Economy: 8.0L/100km.
Value: ****

Toyota has finally entered the world of urban-focused compact SUVs with the C-HR. Toyota is not known for adventurous styling, but C-HR makes a bold statement, and the bodylines, angles and exaggerated shapes of the diamond architecture theme look better in the metal than photos might suggest.

Add to this a vibrant colour palette, Toyota Link connectivity via your phone, and more than 60 accessories to personalise your C-HR and it’s obvious Toyota is targeting the young and young-at-heart. 

The “hidden” rear door handles are a nice touch, but in some respects style has taken precedence over function. The sloping roofline and upwardly sweeping waistline reduce side-window size, cause blind spots and create an enclosed feel for those in the back. Interior space is similar to a Corolla, comfortably accommodating four adults (five at a squeeze) and there is useful luggage space. 

Front-seat focus

The main focus, therefore, is on front-seat occupants. Comfortably sculptured seats provide a sound foundation for what is a clear and easy-to-use layout for the driver. There’s a sense of quality to the wrap-around dashboard, soft-touch surfaces and attention to detail in the fit and finish. Long front-seat travel allows some compromise to deal with otherwise modest leg room in the rear, making it acceptable for a small SUV. Head room, although not generous, is better than expected. Split-fold rear seats add versatility to the load carrying.

The five-variant line-up has two equipment grades and the choice of two-wheel-drive or an on-demand all-wheel-drive system. All models are powered by a sophisticated 1.2-litre turbo-charged direct-injected petrol engine. 

C-HR is one of the more premium compact SUVs and is priced accordingly, although it’s still deemed affordable in a competitive market segment. It starts at $26,990 plus on-road costs for the base-spec, six-speed front-wheel-drive model, the only manual version available. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is $2000 more and it’s also $2000 for all-wheel drive. The higher-grade Koba models, in two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, are $4300 over the respective base-grade models, making the range-topping Koba AWD with CVT a relatively expensive $35,290 plus ORC.  

Toyota C-HR 2017 boot interior

Well equipped

The base-model two-wheel-drive CVT model we tested comes well equipped for its position in the line-up, with satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lamps, hill-start assist control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Stepping up to the Koba adds leather-accented seats, keyless entry and ignition, 18-inch alloys, LED headlamps and an innovative system that moisturises cabin air.

It’s the excellent suite of advanced safety features, standard across the range, that sets C-HR apart from most in this class. All variants have seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-collision safety system, active cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist and auto high beam. On most other brands these advanced safety features are usually extra-cost options, if available at all. Interestingly, C-HR also has trailer sway control across the range. This is a feature usually found on vehicles with heavy-duty towing capabilities, not the likes of C-HR, which has a maximum towing capacity of a mere 600kg for the auto, and a slightly more respectable 1100kg for the manual model. 

Easy-going driveability

The 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine, which is a newcomer to the Australian market, provides the easy-going driveability sought for everyday use around town. Acceleration times, however, are fairly leisurely and it doesn’t have a lot in reserve for passing. With a maximum 85kW, the engine is down on power compared with many of its competitors, but a broad spread of strong low-to-mid-range torque saves the day to some extent. All models have three selectable drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport – that vary throttle response, steering weight and CVT operation.  The CVT has a manual mode with seven-step simulated gears.

Our two-wheel-drive auto was only really found wanting on steep hills or when rapid acceleration was needed for comfortable overtaking. Working hard on hills, the otherwise smooth and quiet engine gets a touch raucous, while CVT whine is a little more noticeable. Official fuel consumption, on 95 RON petrol, is a respectable 6.3L/100km whereas we got only 8.0L/100km on our test week.

Low centre of gravity

The Toyota New Generation Architecture platform on which C-HR is built provides a solid foundation for the suspension, which utilises MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear, while the engine is positioned to keep the centre of gravity low for less body roll and better balance. C-HR’s ride was impressive on good roads, but it showed its firmness on second-class roads where it started to get choppy. The handling provided a securely planted feel and sure-footed cornering. The light steering has a little more road feel in Sport mode but there is no pretence of sports-car handling.

We also drove the Koba model with the on-demand all-wheel-drive system which primarily powers the front wheels then, as needed, proportionally transfers drive to the rear, up to a 50-50 split. In normal driving conditions there is not a great deal of difference in the driving feel, but on loose gravel or wet, slippery roads the extra traction is appreciated.

C-HR is the first Toyota to specify annual services rather than six-monthly service intervals. Each is $195, with the price capped for five years.

The verdict

Toyota’s C-HR has joined the class leaders in the compact SUV category. It has a youthful, vibrant image created by flamboyant styling, while the interior presentation and standard equipment, particularly the safety features, are at premium levels for this class. In a few
areas, however, fashion has overridden function with a very enclosed feel for rear-seat occupants. Likewise, on-road ability is suited to everyday use around town and leisurely highway cruising but falls away when asked to do a bit more.

* More RACV road tests and car reviews.



$28,990 + $3756 (est) ORC.
Premium paint – no cost.
Model range $26,990-$35,290.


5-star ANCAP rating. ESC. ABS. 7 airbags. Emergency braking. Pre-collision warning. Adaptive cruise control. Lane-departure, blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts. Reversing camera/front and rear sensors. Auto lights/wipers. ISOFIX fittings. Daytime running lights. Front fog lights.


6.1” touch-screen. Sat-nav. Toyota Link phone connectivity. Bluetooth. AM/FM radio. Single CD. MP3 player.

Vehicle features

Dual climate-control. Cloth trim.

Driver features

Three drive modes. Auto high beam. Fully adjustable steering column. Folding mirrors.


Drivetrain: 1197cc, 4cyl turbo-petrol engine. Front-wheel-drive. CVT. 85kW@5200-5600rpm, 185Nm@1500-4000rpm.
Fuel: 8.0L/100km (RACV test); 6.4L/100km (govt test). 50L tank. 95-RON petrol. Wheels: 17” alloy, 225/60 R17 tyres. Space-saver spare. Towing limits: 600kg (braked trailer). 60kg towball load.
Environment: 144g/km CO2.




12-month/15,000km services; capped price for 5yrs/75,000km.
3yr/100,000km warranty.

C-HR ratings

Pricing                                ***1/2

Features & equipment  ****1/2

Presentation                         ****

Seating comfort                   ****

Space                                     ****

Ride quality                           ****

Noise                                      ****

Performance                        ****

Economy                              ****

Handling & braking             ****

Safety (ANCAP)                  *****


Mazda CX-3
Very good all-round package but tight on rear seat and luggage space.
Price: $28,990 (2.0L petrol)

Versatile passenger and load combination. Excellent equipment and safety features.
Price: $27,990 (1.8L petrol)

The turbo engine delivers a good balance of performance and fuel economy.
Price: $28,990 (1.4L petrol)

Written by Greg Hill
July 21, 2017

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