Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trying to make sense of the Toyota CH-R

Image result for toyota chr no copyright photo
The CH-R dare we say is the most stylish Toyota we’ve seen in a long time. It’s coupe-like profile means that you can have the rakish style of a BMW X4 without the premium price, but sometimes is the premium price justified?

The CH-R looks like it would have a large turbo under the bonnet, but you’ll be sad to learn that it isn’t even offered as an option. Instead you’ll be greeted by a 2-liter four-cylinder which offers decent flexibility if spirited driving isn’t in your vocabulary. Don’t get us wrong here, we love the low running costs associated with this engine but the sporty looks are just deceiving. We were hoping for more. There is no manual gearbox available just a continuously variable transmission which offers smooth acceleration around town and doesn’t really make too much of a ruckus on the highway, unless you flat out flog it.

The previous statement about the CH-R looking sporty but not feeling sporty at all follows into the driving experience. Steering feedback is just numb while road holding is more on the safe side rather than sporty or adventurous, to put it mildly you won’t want to push it through corners and bends like you would in let’s say a Nissan Juke. The steering is so numb that you have no clue what the front wheels are doing. We can say however, that road and wind noise are well suppressed and it is comfortable to drive on long journeys.

Most people won’t be driving it like hooligans and well those people who drive it more conservatively will find it quite comfortable. It’s dinky size makes parking in tight urban areas a breeze and while the steering is numb, it does make maneuvering around town easy.

The interior of the CH-R is a mixed bag. While the materials used in the cabin feel sturdy and long lasting, some of the plastics feel hard and cheap. The infotainment screen is fiddly to navigate through while on the move, it takes some time getting used to some of the menus. The front seats offer plenty of space, but those in the back will not want to ride for too long. The rear windows are downright tiny, and the fact that you can’t get the CH-R with a panorama sunroof means that those in the back will feel claustrophobic on long journeys. Visibility is great all but through the tiny rear window, luckily a parking-camera comes standard to help take the sting out of that. The boot space is tiny also and well, we understand that with style you give up practicality, but there should at least be some trade-offs that make it feel worth compromising for.

The CH-R does come well kitted for the money. XLE trim comes standard with auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera, dual-zone climate control, LED daytime running lamps and 4.2-inch infotainment screen with Bluetooth for your mobile device. XLE-premium comes with keyless start, Blind Spot Monitoring system, electronic parking brake and sport-fabric trimmed front seats.

You’ll either love or loathe the CH-R. It doesn’t come with all-wheel-drive, visibility isn’t great and the engine doesn’t really go with the sporty looks. However, you do get a comfortable overall package here with low running costs. Which for some is good but others it feels lacking, and even if it does have Toyota’s Legendary build quality, there are rivals that have caught on and offer a more engaging driving experience to match.

Likes: Low running costs along with stylish exterior looks, rock solid build quality.

Dislikes: It’s not engaging to drive, the boot space is tiny. The rear passenger window is a joke. A panorama sunroof option is much needed here.

Devon’s pick: We strongly suggest sticking with the basics of the XLE. It already comes with all the kit you’ll need and is attractively priced, the XLE-premium only adds a few extra bits that some can do without. Plus without all-wheel-drive option it feels pretty expensive compared to those that are priced similarly with all-wheel-drive standard. 

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