LOS ANGELES — An exciting next chapter in Toyota’s storied North American product history has been revealed under the lights of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Stylish, athletic, and tech-filled, the all-new 2018 Toyota C-HR – or, Coupe High-Rider – represents a leap forward in design, manufacturing, and engineering for Toyota. When it arrives at dealerships next spring, the C-HR will serve as a solid springboard of excitement, adventure, and pride for its fashion-forward, trendsetting owners.
Last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Scion debuted its stunning C-HR Concept. That well-received design study set the stage for the Toyota C-HR, which, nearly to the tee, carries on the concept’s avant-garde physique; modern, comfortable cabin; and bold, outgoing character.
The C-HR will be available in two grades at launch, XLE and XLE Premium, each equipped with a long list of standard premium features that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, supportive bucket seating, 7-inch audio display, and Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P).
But, the C-HR doesn’t only look great – it’s got the sportiness to impress thanks to Deputy Chief Engineer, Hiro Koba, who is a diehard racer at heart. He and his team made it their mission to ensure the C-HR exhilarates its driver anytime, anywhere. Like its uncanny looks, the C-HR’s comprehensive and cohesive blend of comfort, control, consistency, and responsiveness that was cultivated on the famed Nürburgring is as impressive as it is unique.
POLISHED DIAMOND STYLE
Toyota’s team of global designers expounded on one theme: “Distinctive Diamond.” The iconic gemstone evokes universal notions of luxury, attractiveness, sophistication, and strength. Designers translated these traits into a physical form that’s collectively matchless, sexy, muscular, and edgy. From the get-go, they strived to sculpt an urban-dwelling crossover that would effortlessly navigate tight city streets and stand out, with an agile, dynamic expressiveness.
At the C-HR’s nose, two slim projector-beam halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights wrap deep into its toned shoulders – nearly all the way into the front quarter panels. Because of this, the vehicle looks wider than it is, and possesses an assertive fascia that’s uncommon in the segment.
Deep, curvy character lines emerge from a prominent Toyota badge that’s flanked by the headlamps, and lead into the narrower core body. They run below the slender windows, and continue above the rear wheel where they marry to a high beltline and distinctive C-Pillar with integrated door handle.
Look closely at the silhouette to see the clear resemblance of a diamond set on its side. Powerful arches housing the extra-large 18-inch aluminum wheels accentuate the C-HR’s sturdy posture and compact cabin.
The rear is a cohesive melding of its elaborate lines and 3D shapes. The tail lamps protrude outward, and the hatchback – outfitted with a lip spoiler and functional top wing – tapers neatly inboard, adding to the C-HR’s futuristic look, and, once more, surprising girth.
Opening a door reveals a modern, spacious, and uncluttered interior having a keen placement of diamond accents and a driver-centric “MeZONE” orientation. Along with the soft-touch materials covering surfaces throughout, the diamond pattern influences the designs of the dual-zone climate controls, speaker surrounds, and black headliner above the front passengers.
The slightly angled dashboard and amenity controls allow for the driver to have a clear view of the road ahead and intuitive access to instrumentation – a nod to the C-HR’s sports car influence. The 7-inch audio display is positioned centrally atop the dash, rather than in it, so as to help reduce a driver’s eye movements. An informative twin-ring gauge cluster resides behind the leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel. The wheel, with its slender profile, small diameter, and compact center pad, is reminiscent of a sports car’s easy-to-grip helm. The satin-plated shift knob exudes a high-quality feeling, and once in-hand, has a solid shift movement. A bright 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display sits between the twin-ring cluster.
Key XLE standard features include a premium leather steering wheel; power fold and heated mirrors; auto-dimming rearview mirror with backup camera; electric parking brake; and dual-zone climate control. The XLE Premium builds upon the XLE’s amenities and adds Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; heated front seats; power lumbar driver’s seat; auto fold, heated side mirrors with puddle lamps that project “Toyota C-HR”; fog lamps; and Smart Key with Push Button Start. Both grades are equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display having AM/FM/HD Radio™, Aha™ app, USB port and AUX jack, Bluetooth®, and Voice Recognition with voice training.
Bolstered bucket seats help keep passengers snug and comfortable, no matter their commute’s duration or dynamism. All passengers will appreciate the generous amount of small item storage space and cup holders. Designers used scalloped seatbacks, foot well cubbies carved below the front seats, and a chamfered headliner to create a spacious backseat environment. Sound insulating materials placed on the carpet, headliner, A-pillars, and door trim help keep all unwanted noises out and the good conversations in. For extra cargo carrying versatility on weekend trips or errand runs, the rear 60/40 seat can split and fold flat.
The Toyota C-HR scores high on style points, but it is also a hit when it comes to thrilling fun and impressive comfort. Deputy Chief Engineer Koba took full advantage of the C-HR’s adaptable Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) to craft an engaging character that goes well beyond just a cool appearance. The C-HR’s core driving personality incorporates the ingredients of a well-sorted sports car – one that seamlessly melds cunning responsiveness, linearity, consistency, and comfort.
Years were spent developing the C-HR’s driving performance and ride quality on some of the world’s most curvaceous and challenging roads, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, an iconic racing circuit. Doing so took a mix of innovation, creativity, and trial and error. As a result, the TNGA platform – with an inherent low center-of-gravity, high strength, and low weight – benefitted from extra rigidity through added spot welding, gussets, braces, and adhesives in and on key connection structures.
The newly developed MacPherson strut front suspension with SACHS dampers has angled strut bearings and a large diameter stabilizer bar to help the C-HR’s front end respond quickly and precisely at initial corner turn-in. And at the rear, an all-new double-wishbone suspension utilizes SACHS shock absorbers with urethane upper supports – a first for Toyota. The material, together with an aluminum-cast upper support housing, aids in the dampers’ absorption efficiency, and therefore, greatly benefits passenger comfort, cabin quietness, and vehicle agility.
Feeling connected to the road is characteristic of a sporty drive, and the C-HR delivers with its column-type Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system. As is the case with other EPS systems, a tilt of the steering wheel will return light feedback at low speeds, and at higher speeds, drivers will notice stronger feedback for increased confidence while behind the wheel. The C-HR’s steering system’s feel, however, relies on a highly rigid rack-and-pinion steering gearbox that is installed directly to the front suspension.
For all of its sportiness, the C-HR’s ride quality is well-sorted, civilized, and highly capable in absorbing the nastiest of unkempt pavement. The end result is a C-HR that finds itself as at home on congested boulevards as it does on serpentine roads.
The C-HR’s engine, a punchy 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, sends all power to the front wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine employs many of Toyota’s latest generation of technologies, including Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Valvematic, both of which have received extensive optimization to enhance fuel economy and smooth operation. Valvematic offers a broader range of continuously variable valve timing (lift and phasing) to provide optimal intake valve (not on exhaust side) operation relative to engine demands. Furthermore, to reduce exhaust emissions, the catalyst is warmed earlier during the engine’s ignition cycle.
The all-new CVT received much attention by engineers, and utilizes redesigned pulleys to enhance acceleration and fuel economy; a new belt structure to reduce cabin noise; and, a world’s-first coaxial two-port oil pump system that allows for continuous oil pressure modifications in various driving conditions. A Preload Differential helps to distribute torque between the left and right wheels during low-speed operation to make for easier, composed driving.
Of course, drivers and passengers will appreciate the powertrain’s fuel efficiency, impressive smoothness, and quiet operation, but they’ll love Sport mode and the simulated 7-speed Sequential Shiftmatic. Engaging the Sport mode via the MID increases the responsiveness of the throttle, quickens the CVT’s automatic artificial “step-up” shifts, and maintains high engine speed to enhance acceleration. The EPS’ feedback is weightier for a more confidence-inspiring feel. Pushing the gearshift over to the left while in Drive engages Sequential Shiftmatic, and lets drivers shift simulated gears at their convenience.
No matter its grade, the C-HR comes equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P). This multi-feature advanced active safety suite bundles cutting-edge active safety technologies including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function (PCS w/PD) featuring forward collision warning and Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The C-HR is the only competitor in the segment to offer standard Full-Speed DRCC.
Complementing TSS-P are 10 standard airbags, standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and rear backup camera, as well as available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which are only available on the XLE Premium grade.