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The 2021 Toyota C-HR looks the part of an outstanding subcompact SUV. However, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

The model’s sporty appearance, sufficient fuel-economy rating, and list of features make it an attractive choice for shoppers. Toyota features a lineup of heralded SUVs, but the C-HR is one of the brand’s weakest offerings

Unfortunately, the C-HR fails to live up to the bar set by its fellow brandmates and competitors alike. How does this stylish yet hollow crossover fall short of expectations? Let’s find out. 

The 2021 Toyota C-HR is a bore

A red 2021 Toyota C-HR parked next to a blue wall
The 2021 Toyota C-HR on display | Photo via Toyota

The subcompact SUV class isn’t exactly known for housing dynamic dynamos. However, these vehicles should still have sporty driving mechanics.

Some models, such as the acclaimed Mazda CX-30, succeed at achieving on-road thrills. Meanwhile, the 2021 Toyota C-HR delivers one of the dullest driving experiences in its class.

Toyota only gives C-HR buyers one powertrain option. All models feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to CVT and a front-wheel-drive system. This subcompact SUV’s lackluster powerplant only makes 144 hp, and it’s one of the slowest new cars on the market.

Additionally, the 2021 Toyota C-HR lacks versatility. Many other models in its segment offer an available all-wheel-drive system. This drivetrain allows a vehicle to deliver better grip to the road, which is advantageous when driving in icy or rainy conditions.

Toyota offers no such system for the C-HR, leaving buyers stuck in the mud.

An SUV with a flawed concept

A look at the back end of a white 2021 Toyota C-HR
A look at the rear of the 2021 C-HR | Photo via Toyota

Sleek style attracts shoppers, but poor design repels them. Unfortunately, the 2021 Toyota C-HR suffers from this issue.

According to Consumer Reports, driving the C-HR is an unpleasantly loud experience. The crossover’s underpowered engine gets noisy when you lay on the gas. But that’s the least of its problems.

Consumer Reports noted that wind noise easily penetrates the cabin. The publication stated, “We found ourselves checking to see if the windows were up because of the pronounced wind noise at highway speeds.”

This problem is undoubtedly infuriating. However, the 2021 Toyota C-HR’s other design problem is potentially dangerous. Consumer Reports notes that the crossover’s visibility is poor all the way around.

Notably, its side windows are tiny, especially in the rear. Plus, the rear-seat headrests obstruct the driver’s view of the back window.

Meanwhile, its large pillars create significant blind spots, which can put drivers in dangerous situations. And while the C-HR comes standard with a ton of safety tech, you’ll have to pay extra for the available blind-spot monitoring system.

The C-HR will cramp your style


How Safe Is the 2021 Toyota C-HR?

Part of the reason people buy SUVs – even subcompact ones – is for utility. Unfortunately, the 2021 Toyota C-HR doesn’t offer much. Its cargo bay is one of the smallest in its class, providing only 37 cubic feet of storage space when you fold the rear seats down.

And unlike more upright models such as the Hyundai Kona, you won’t be able to store tall objects in the back of the C-HR. This issue is due to the vehicle’s sloping design. While it looks great from the outside, it limits its crossover’s practicality inside.

Unfortunately, this same problem plagues the rear seats. The 2021 Toyota C-HR’s low roofline creates a difficult obstacle for passengers to avoid when getting in or out of the rear doors.

All-in-all, you’d be better off buying an SUV that actually delivers on “sport” and “utility.”