The best Toyota C-HR SUV models
Toyota C-HR Dynamic 1.8 Hybrid (November 2016 – now)
Tested: March 2017
You’ve got the choice of three trim levels, but even at base-spec Icon you get a lot of standard kit. Highlights include 17-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Bluetooth and a reversing camera. Each C-HR also gets Toyota Safety Sense, which is a suite of systems to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe.
That’s an impressive line-up, but we’d step up one rung on the ladder and go for Excel, which adds part-leather upholstery along with automatic parking including acoustic sensors, 18-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, and navigation for the infotainment system.
Our test car’s in top-of-the-tree Dynamic, however, which means another £1,500 price jump and the addition of front and rear LED lights and a contrasting roof. This seems a little extravagant to us, but then if you value being able to individualise your car as fully as possible then it’ll be a necessary evil.
The car we’re testing here is the hybrid, which means it’s got a 1.8-litre petrol engine coupled with an electric motor fed by a nickel metal-hydride battery.
You can’t plug it in like many hybrid cars these days but thanks to Toyota’s experience in this arena – it launched the first Prius hybrid 20 years ago – it works incredibly well anyway.
You’ll struggle to notice the transition between petrol and electric power at all when on the move. It’s only when sat still that you can sense the engine switching on as the batteries lose their charge. The amount of time spent on electric power is surprisingly high, too.
The main advantage of this system is that is provides relatively decent power (123hp) and torque (142Nm) while offering incredibly low CO2 emissions of 87g/km and claimed fuel economy of 72.4mpg. That’s enough for a 0-62mph sprint in 11.0 seconds if you push it, but this car’s at its best when driven slowly – enjoy the lower fuel bills and quieter ride instead.
Our only slight reservation is that we found the 1.2-litre engine with a manual gearbox to be more fun. It’s a lighter engine that suited the car’s excellent handling better, and the ‘box allows you more control over the experience. It’s also £2,600 cheaper, which sweetens the deal even more.
Toyota C-HR Excel 1.2 CVT FWD (November 2016 – now)
Tested: February 2017
Even though our test car isn’t decked out in the top-of-the-line Dynamic trim, there’s still an impressive level of standard kit on offer.
A large part of the C-HR’s appeal is down to its striking looks so we’d recommended picking out whichever paint colour sets the styling off best – regardless of cost.
As for the pricey Premium Pack, the full leather is nice but not essential, while the upgraded stereo system is good but not outstanding. Consider carefully whether you really need either of these extras.
A few years ago the idea of putting a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine in a 1,400kg crossover would have been unheard of. However, the 1.2-litre motor in the C-HR is a prime example of how to do it properly.
It only produces a modest 114hp and 185Nm of torque, yet the C-HR never feels strained or underpowered even on faster roads.
Part of this is down to the silky smooth automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) which flicks between ratios eerily effectively.
It’s so slick that there’s hardly any loss of momentum during upshifts, meaning that acceleration from around 40mph is surprisingly brisk. It’s not the quickest off the line, though, hence the 11.1-second 0-62mph time.
Engine noise is also highly impressive, with barely a murmur at cruise speeds and nothing more than a fizzy hum when revving hard.
It’s not perfect, however. Put your foot down for an overtake and there’s a noticeable pause before any real power comes in, plus the accelerator requires a lot of travel in general to illicit any urgency. You’ll also notice that any meaningful prod of the throttle pedal brings about lots of revs, thanks to the CVT transmission.
Should customers wish, the 1.2-litre engine is also available with all-wheel drive (AWD) for a £1,300 premium. Not that most customers will really need it, though. There’s ample traction and stability with the standard layout and not enough ground clearance to make the AWD usable off-road.
It could come in handy if you live up a muddy track, but make sure you really need the AWD before speccing it. And if you do decide to take the plunge, bear in mind CO2 emissions increase from 135g/km to 144g/km – enough to increase the C-HR’s tax band under the current rates.
The Toyota C-HR is a highly accomplished crossover, boasting a comfortable ride, a well-built cabin and genuinely eye-catching styling. In this mid-range Excel spec there’s also plenty of useful equipment, while the 1.2-litre engine punches beyond its weight for pulling power and refinement.
Where we would look to save money is on the CVT transmission which is better suited to the 1.8-litre hybrid model. The six-speed manual should be more than up to the task while costing considerably less.
Toyota C-HR model history
- November 2016 - C-HR goes on sale with three trim levels: Icon, Excel and Dynamic. There were two automatic versions - a hybrid and a turbocharged petrol - and the latter could be ordered with a manual gearbox too.
- April 2017 - Limited Edition model introduced. Only 100 units and hybrid-only, this top-spec trim featured two-tone paint, 18-inch alloys, a JBL sound system and leather upholstery.
Buying a new Toyota C-HR SUV
- Be careful of wilder colour and trims combinations
- 75% set to be hybrid
- Toyota dealers have an excellent reputation
Toyota has big ambitions for the C-HR and is geared up to build and sell a lot of them – so getting a new one shouldn’t prove too arduous. Although if it does catch fashionista eyes in the manner the manufacturer is hoping, demand may also be high. So if you have a particular colour and spec combination in mind, you may need to brace yourself for a modest wait.
It’s a striking design, so bold colours inside and out do rather suit it – but as ever, go too mad and you risk putting off more restrained secondhand buyers when it comes to selling the car on. The options packs look good value though, and whatever the colour, examples loaded with kit will be most attractive further down the line.
Hybrid most popular?
We’ve already mentioned that Toyota expects 75% of buyers to opt for the hybrid, which is likely to have an impact on used demand as well. This could make the 1.2 easy to sell due to limited numbers versus buying interest (used hybrids are still perceived as something of a secondhand risk), or difficult due to lack of popularity. Tricky to call at this stage.
Toyota has plenty of dealerships, and an excellent reputation for service – so whatever you choose you should be treated well. If not, try a different dealership; it’s likely you’ll find another nearby.
Buying a used Toyota C-HR SUV
- Check servicing has been carried out on schedule
- Make sure hybrid can move under electric power
- 1.2 turbo likely to have been driven harder
If the C-HR does turn into the fashion icon Toyota hopes it will be, we suggest you pay close attention to the service and maintenance record when it comes to buying used – fashionable cars aren’t always treated meticulously.
Assuming the sales split goes according to the manufacturer’s plan, there will be plenty of hybrid models to choose from – so you’ve no excuse not to be picky. 1.2-litre turbos will be trickier to find on this basis, but since they may have been driven harder, prepare to be patient and choose carefully.
Hybrids present the added used complication of battery degradation – meaning that over time they come to hold less charge, shortening the distance they can drive on electric power alone. So make sure you test this ability before you part with your cash for a secondhand C-HR. That said, as long as servicing is carried out by a Toyota dealer, the battery pack is covered by an 11-year warranty.
And of course, whichever C-HR you go for be sure to carry out a Parkers Car History Check to make sure it isn’t hiding any nasty surprises.
Selling your Toyota C-HR SUV
- Take good photos
- Provide evidence of service history
- Make sure it appears well cared for
The unusual design of the C-HR may make it more difficult to sell than a conventional crossover, and there is a danger that it will look dated in a few years’ time. So to give yourself the best chance of securing a sale quickly at a decent price make sure you present your car in the best possible light.
This means getting a good selection of high-quality photographs – perhaps even a video – and writing an advert that details all equipment and service history clearly.
Buyers are most attracted to vehicles that look well cared for, so consider a professional clean and repair to any minor scuffs or alloy wheel damage – the condition of the wheels is a key indicator of careful ownership.
Also: don’t price yourself out of the market or let your C-HR go too cheaply. Parkers can help you establish the correct price with a free valuation.