Every now and then, an automaker will release a weird and quirky car to remain competitive in a segment and cater to the niche subset of buyers that are looking to “stand out” or “get noticed.” The Nissan Juke was a good example of that, however, the 2020 Toyota C-HR is an even better example. It’s a unique styling sets it apart from its competitors but that seems to be all it has going for it, as some auto critics have shrugged it off as being slow, cramped, and behind the pack compared to others in the compact crossover segment. We are currently driving it for the week and we had to wonder: Is it really all that bad?
The Toyota C-HR has an interesting personality
No matter which way you look at it, the Toyota C-HR is a very polarizing car. Its exterior aesthetic is filled with swooping lines and curvatures as well as angular head and tail lights that give it an aggressive look. On the inside, the unique styling continues as the headliner is indented with odd triangular patterns and the cupholders look like blackhole vortexes. Needless to say, the C-HR looks like a design exercise in conceptual art as opposed to an actual road-going car, however, we applaud Toyota for treading in the territory of boldness as opposed to blandness.
Aside from the unique architecture of the Toyota C-HR, one of our favorite features are the front seats. They’re supportive in the right ways and comfortable enough for a long drive and we even dig their sporty look. But our love runs out when it comes to the backseat area, as it does indeed feel cramped and claustrophobic, mainly due to the ultra-high beltline and small rear windows. In fact, we haven’t felt this cramped since the last time we sat in the back of a Chevy Camaro, and that’s definitely not a welcoming experience.
It’s slow, too slow
Now that we’ve addressed what we like about the 2020 Toyota C-HR, it’s time to move onto what we don’t like. And the most glaring drawback to the car is its lack of performance. Under the hood is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque and is matched to a CVT transmission. It’s not terrible when it comes to putting around town as the powertrain is smooth and has some decent pep to it, however, if you want to go faster than residential speeds, that’s where it gets ugly.
We couldn’t believe that Car and Driver clocked the C-HR’s 0-60 time at 11 seconds flat and U.S News noted that it has “sluggish acceleration,” so we wanted to give small crossover the benefit of the doubt. It can’t be that bad, right? It is. In fact, it’s almost dangerously slow.
We say that because when we were cruising on the highway and attempted to switch lanes to go faster, we had to immediately get back over due to a truck speeding up in our intended lane and our inability to accelerate quickly to get up to speed could have caused an accident. It’s so bad that this car can easily be out-gunned at any stoplight by a Prius, or maybe even Fiat 500. A turbocharger would probably do wonders. Hopefully, Toyota is listening.
RELATED: The Toyota C-HR Is not Recommended
It can’t be all bad, right?
Aside from the cramped backseat and terrible acceleration, the Toyota C-HR probably has some other strong points, although, we just haven’t found them yet. It doesn’t even get good gas mileage. You would think that it would at least achieve some stellar fuel economy figures considering it has a small engine, right? No, it doesn’t. The C-HR is rated at 27 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway, which is less than competitors like the Honda HR-V (28/34) and Nissan Kicks (31/36).
So what does the Toyota C-HR have going for it? Other than its looks, we’re not sure, but we’ll spend more time with it and report back accordingly. However, for now, it really is as bad as everyone says it is, at least in terms of performance.