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Even a quality brand like Toyota can’t make winners all the time. Despite being in one of the most popular segments, the Toyota C-HR is consistently near the bottom of subcompact SUV ratings. For years, drivers have complained about its lack of power and overall performance.

Is there anything that makes the Toyota C-HR a good buy? Let’s examine all the changes it has had over the years to determine what Toyota could do to improve it.

A red Toyota C-HR in a parking lot.
The Toyota C-HR has never been a hot-seller | Toyota Media

Looking back at the 2018 Toyota C-HR

Even in its debut model year, reviews collected by U.S. News had little praise to give the Toyota C-HR. It’s powered by a four-cylinder engine with just 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque on tap, paired with a CVT. The 2018 C-HR is only available with a FWD powertrain, allowing it to average 27/31 mpg city/highway.

While it’s decently fuel-efficient, the base powertrain has sluggish acceleration and noisy operations from the CVT. Despite being marketed as a sport-focused SUV, critics didn’t note anything overtly athletic about the C-HR’s handling. 

The Toyota C-HR was offered in two trims for the 2018 model year, starting with the XLE. It has five seats inside made from cloth upholstery, but reviews say that the back row is tight for adults. 

The interior itself is also surrounded by lots of black plastic parts, though at least the steering wheel has some leather trim. The cargo area only has 37 cubes worth of space, with no automatic liftgate available. 

All 2018 Toyota C-HRs have dual-zone climate control and a 7-in infotainment screen with standard Bluetooth. They also come with a full safety suite that includes features like automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. The Premium trim offers a few ADAS additions, plus heated seats for the front passengers. 

The 2019 Toyota C-HR featured standard Apple CarPlay, plus a bigger touchscreen. The Limited trim was introduced this year, adding a handful of extra features. Drivers could also pay extra for satellite radio and navigation.

The 2020 model and beyond

The 2020 Toyota C-HR has a redesigned front bumper and grille, possibly to give it a more sporty appearance. However, it still has the same weak engine as it did in the previous two model years. The Limited trim also received new rain-pivoting headlights and HD radio, but navigation was still optional. Every Toyota C-HR received Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility for 2020.

For 2021, traffic sign recognition was added to the Toyota C-HR’s ADAS suite. The Nightshade Edition trim was also introduced this year, which adds black-out exterior highlights to the XLE trim. These models also include a leather steering wheel, plus all the features you get on the base trim.

Leather seats were also added to the Limited trim this year, and the 2022 model sports adaptive headlights. The LE trim has been discontinued entirely. The 2022 Toyota C-HR has a new audio package available, plus a different white paint option with a contrasting roof.

Will the Toyota C-HR ever be improved?

According to critics, the 2022 Toyota C-HR’s interior was slightly better compared to previous years thanks to its faux-leather dash and high-quality materials. However, it still doesn’t offer great accommodations for either passengers or cargo. Toyota would also probably have to add some better engine options to make this SUV more appealing.

Unfortunately, Car and Driver tells us that it’s too late for the Toyota C-HR to make a comeback in North America. The redesigned Toyota C-HR will only be available in other countries for the 2023 model year. Because the C-HR Prologue concept looks way more exciting than the outgoing model, we hope to see it stateside someday.


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