Jeffrey N. Ross | Oct 21, 2020


Exterior view of the 2020 Toyota CH-R

The market for small crossovers has exploded in recent years, especially when it comes to the subcompact segment. While there are many options out there, the Toyota C-HR has been one of AutoNation Drive's favorites since it was first introduced in 2018.

Toyota continues to make changes to its entry-level crossover, by expanding on the model lineup in 2019, and refreshing the exterior design for 2020. For this review, I'll take a look at how the 2020 Toyota C-HR Limited stacks up against well-equipped rivals like the Nissan Kicks, Honda HR-V, and Ford EcoSport.


2020 Toyota CH-R Exterior

Exterior view of the 2020 Toyota CH-R

In case you're wondering, the naming of the 2020 Toyota C-HR stands for "Coupe High Rider." This distinctive, sporty design is defined by an aggressively sloped roofline, hidden handles on the rear doors, and gray cladding along the lower edges to give the visual appearance of a higher, crossover-like ride height.

If that isn't stylish enough, the C-HR also features bulging wheel arches for a surprisingly athletic stance. For 2020, the C-HR's design has been slightly refreshed to include a restyled front fascia, new wheel designs, and updated headlights. On the C-HR Limited, the new lighting means a full LED set up with adaptive lighting and automatic high beams. This top trim level also adds LED fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and power-folding door mirrors with stylish puddle lights that feature the C-HR logo.

As an extra styling element, the C-HR can be equipped with a two-tone "R-Code" paint job for an extra $500. This treatment was on my test vehicle, and the Black Sand Pearl paint job looked great against the new-for-2020 silver roof color.

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2020 Toyota CH-R Interior

Interior view of the 2020 Toyota CH-R

Matching the unique exterior design, the 2020 Toyota C-HR has a distinctive interior loaded up with plenty of content. All trim levels come standard with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa capability as well as Toyota Connected Services that includes Wi-Fi Connect (connect up to five devices using a 4G LTE hotspot). This tester also upgraded to the Audio Plus package ($465) that adds HD Radio.

It's the details that make the C-HR not feel like a bargain-priced subcompact. Standard features like the stitched appearance on the upper instrument panel trim, and the one-touch automatic up-and-down function for all four windows are particularly impressive. The Limited also gets leather seating, heated front seats, driver seat power lumbar, a leather-wrapped steering wheel,  and Smart Key keyless entry with push-button start.

Being a subcompact, small interior dimensions are to be expected, but this cabin doesn't come off as feeling cramped. There is plenty of room for five passengers to be comfortable, and the cargo area behind the rear seats can accommodate 19 cubic-feet of cargo, and if you fold the rear seats down, cargo capacity almost doubles to 36.4 cubic.

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2020 Toyota CH-R Powertrain

View of the engine block of the 2020 Toyota CH-R

Despite the freshened exterior, the 2020 Toyota C-HR carries over the same powertrain configuration that it has used since its launch in 2018. This consists of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque paired to a continuously variable transmission, and this sole configuration gives the C-HR EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

While you won't find many complaints with this powertrain setup, there are two major downfalls of the C-HR. Like some other rivals in this segment, the C-HR is only available in front-wheel drive. But the bigger issue is the curb weight. Weighing in at 3,300 pounds, the C-HR is 400 pounds heavier than a FWD Honda HR-V, and it's still 250 pounds heavier than an HR-V with all-wheel drive. As expected, this higher curb weight leaves the C-HR feeling less sporty than some of its lightweight competitors.

Sure, the 2019 Toyota C-HR has its downfalls, but when it comes down to meeting the needs of drivers looking for a small, efficient vehicle with lots of room, that's where this crossover really shines. The C-HR is a perfect urban vehicle being affordable, easy to park and fun to drive around town, while the suspension tuning and standard acoustic windshield result in an impressively smooth and quiet ride.

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2020 Toyota CH-R Safety

View of the safety features of the 2020 Toyota CH-R

Safety is paramount in the subcompact crossover segment, and the 2020 Toyota C-HR performs flawlessly with a Five-Star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

All trims come with ten standard airbags, including a driver's side knee airbag and a front passenger seat cushion airbag. During a collision, the seat cushion airbag (mounted under the seat bottom) raises up the front part of the seat bottom to help keep the passenger in place to avoid submarining.

The Toyota Safety Sense P suite of safety is also standard with features such as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

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2020 Toyota CH-R Overall

Exterior view of the 2020 Toyota CH-R

With styling attributes of a coupe, a crossover and a hatchback, the 2020 Toyota C-HR is ready to meet the needs of any small-car shopper as a fun and functional subcompact.

Love it or hate it, the C-HR has a pleasantly unique look to distinguish itself from a sea of subcompact competitors, though with a starting price of $21,295, it's also one of the most expensive options in its segment. Add in the Limited trim level, and this tester's optional equipment, and you have an as-tested price of $28,435, which is comparable to other fully loaded subcompact CUVs the C-HR is pitted against.

 

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2020 Toyota CH-R Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, AWD

Engine/Transmission

2.0-liter I4, 144 hp, 139 lb-ft
CVT automatic 

Mileage

27/31 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.