In-depth reviews

Toyota C-HR review - stylish and efficient, but lacks rear space

“The Toyota C-HR is an attractive and efficient SUV that should prove reliable, but it’s not very practical and can get pricey”

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Price
£31,275 - £46,590

Pros

  • Efficient
  • Good to drive
  • Attractive interior

Cons

  • Small boot
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Expensive in higher trims

Verdict - Is the Toyota C-HR a good car?

The Toyota C-HR is very efficient without sacrificing driving appeal, comes with lots of kit and benefits from Toyota’s reputation for reliability and a long warranty. However, it’s also not all that practical, with a small boot, tight rear seats and limited towing ability. If you can look past those issues, and the C-HR’s rising price in higher trims – mid-range 1.8-litre versions are better value – there’s certainly plenty that appeals.

Toyota C-HR models, specs and alternatives

With its fashionable SUV-coupe styling and affordable running costs, the C-HR has proved to be a smash hit in Europe, with more than 840,000 sales so far. Toyota has been careful not to change the recipe too much for this all-new generation, improving its design to bring it up to date, adding tech and ushering in a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) for the first time.

Top 10 best mid-size SUVs 2023Top 10 best mid-size SUVs 2024

It certainly isn’t short of rivals in the important mid-sized SUV class, from hybrids like the Honda HR-V to all-electric models such as the Volvo EX30 and practical family picks including the Skoda Karoq. There’s arguably more choice of powertrains, shapes and sizes on the market than at any other time in history. If you want an EV, Toyota offers just one model at the moment, but the bZ4X is more expensive, costing from just over £46,000.

The C-HR is seeking to cover more bases than ever, spanning from the relatively affordable 1.8-litre hybrid all the way up to a 2.0-litre version and a PHEV in top GR Sport and Premier Edition trims. These don’t look quite such good value, with the 2.0-litre GR Sport starting at more than £40,000. In every case, though, the C-HR is efficient and sends power to its front wheels via an automatic gearbox. We also found it handles with aplomb, but that its CVT transmission is best suited to a fairly relaxed driving style – if you want a performance SUV, the Cupra Formentor is a better bet.

Inside, the C-HR boasts a well-designed interior that’s appealing to sit in and offers a decent level of technology. It also earns points for sustainability, with lower trims featuring upholstery from recycled plastic bottles. It’s less rosy further back in the cabin, though, with less room in the back and boot than most of its SUV rivals, and a claustrophobic-feeling rear cabin. In fact, the C-HR offers little advantage over a family hatchback in terms of practicality.

Trim levels

Power options

  • Icon
  • Design
  • Excel
  • GR Sport
  • Premiere
  • 1.8 hybrid petrol 138bhp
  • 2.0 hybrid petrol 195bhp
  • 2.0 plug-in hybrid petrol 220bhp

Toyota C-HR alternatives

SUVs

Electric SUVs

MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions

“The C-HR’s existing hybrid line-up is bolstered by the arrival of a PHEV powertrain for the first time”

The Toyota C-HR is well-known for being a hybrid model, with only a small number of non-hybrid petrol cars sold in the UK early on as part of the first generation model lineup. While the choice of hybrid petrol engines continues into this second-generation car, the big news is the arrival of a PHEV option for the first time.

While we’d still recommend one of the hybrids for buyers looking for an affordable urban runabout, the PHEV will rightly appeal to buyers considering an EV, but not sure if they (or the charging infrastructure) are quite ready to make the switch. In many ways it offers the best of both worlds, providing an EV range of up to 41 miles for zero-emissions driving near home, along with a petrol engine for those occasions where you need to travel further afield at short notice.

Unlike some of the latest PHEVs with rapid charging, it’s a shame the C-HR’s battery pack only accepts peak charging speeds of 7kW. There won’t be much point using a public charger to add range (unless it’s very convenient to do so), but plug it in at home and the battery will be fully replenished in around 2.5 hours.
 

Model 

Fuel economy

CO2 emissions

1.8 hybrid petrol 138bhp

58.9mpg

103g/km

2.0 hybrid petrol 195bhp

57.7mpg

107g/km

2.0 plug-in hybrid petrol 220bhp

313mpg

19g/km

Insurance

While insurance groups haven’t been confirmed for the new model yet, ratings for the hybrid versions are unlikely to differ much from the outgoing car, spanning 15 to 24 out of 50. We do, however, expect the plug-in hybrid to sit in a higher band, both because of its extra performance and its higher value and complexity.

Engines, drive & performance

“Good to drive around town and decent handling, but there are more sporting SUVs for faster-paced driving”

While we expect the C-HR’s handling to be fairly similar across the range, how it goes will of course depend on the powertrain you pick. In most cases we’d recommend the 1.8-litre for short hops and town driving, where it excels. If you want to stick with a hybrid and really need more performance, the more expensive 2.0-litre has a convincing extra turn of speed for joining motorways, overtaking and driving in hilly areas, while the plug-in hybrid has its own unique personality.

We were impressed with the C-HR’s road manners, with a supple feel from the suspension over bumps, without it feeling soft enough to lack control or composure. It’s a trait that should work well in the UK, where the roads are both lumpy but also demanding, with lots of twists and turns. We’d avoid the biggest alloy wheels, though, because we found the ride got worse the bigger they were – the 20-inch wheels on the GR Sport definitely transmit more noise through to the cabin.

Hybrid models

The range kicks off with a familiar hybrid packing a 1.8-litre petrol engine, electric motor and small battery. It doesn’t appear very quick on paper, but the linear power delivery of its CVT automatic gearbox helps it to keep up with traffic around town. It’s also able to switch off its petrol engine an impressive amount in urban driving, considering the small size of its self-charging hybrid battery. Like before, it’s also a car best suited to calm driving, because heavy acceleration will see its engine revs flare.

Above it there’s a 2.0-litre version and with a useful increase in power it feels more comfortable than both the 1.8-litre car, and its predecessor. We wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s truly entertaining to drive, and a heavy right foot will still send the revs soaring, but you don’t need to push it too hard to make good progress, and the engine settles right down on the motorway.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

1.8 hybrid petrol

138bhp

10.2

106mph

2.0 hybrid petrol

195bhp

8.1

TBC

2.0 plug-in hybrid petrol

220bhp

7.4

TBC

Plug-in hybrid models

Toyota is synonymous with hybrid models, so perhaps that’s why it has been rather slow to introduce PHEV and battery electric models. Now a C-HR with a plug has arrived, it should broaden the appeal of the already-popular SUV to even more buyers, particularly company car drivers thanks to its cheaper Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) taxation.

Its 0-62mph dash certainly makes it the quickest C-HR too, although that likely won’t be of concern to the drivers looking to squeeze a few more miles out of the battery before the 2.0-litre petrol engine kicks in.

Electric models 

There’s no fully electric version of the C-HR on the cards yet, so if you want a zero-emission (at the tailpipe at least) Toyota, you’ll need to step up to the Toyota bZ4X. There are quite a few electric small SUVs to pick from too, including the Hyundai Kona – our favourite small family car – and models like the MG4, Peugeot E-2008 and Volvo EX30.

Interior & comfort

“An attractive dashboard layout and up to date features should go down well with buyers”

There was a time when Toyota interiors were known for being functional and rather stark, but the original C-HR was one of the first to buck that trend. The new model continues this upward trajectory, with a sophisticated interior design and plenty of squishy, quality-feeling materials, as well as upmarket suede-style upholstery on top trim levels. Toyota has also resisted the trend of putting as many controls as possible into the touchscreen, so you can still operate the heating and ventilation via a row of physical buttons.

Lots of the materials are sustainable too, with Icon and Design trims featuring upholstery using recycled bottles, and only the very top trim getting leather seats. 

Infotainment and navigation

We’ve tested the Design trim, which is expected to be the most popular seller in the UK, as well as the range-topping GR Sport. Despite being towards the lower end of the versions on offer, even the Design gives you two 12.3-inch displays. These are mounted high on the dashboard, so they’re easy to see at a glance and it’s not too much of a stretch to reach the touchscreen. Some of the menus aren’t the most user-friendly, but the system's responsiveness is quite snappy.

It’s worth noting that the entry-level C-HR gets a smaller eight-inch touchscreen, which we’re yet to test, but still comes packing Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and its own navigation.

Key features

Icon

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Eight-inch touchscreen
  • Wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay

Design 

(Icon plus…)

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Power tailgate
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen and instrument displays
  • Parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert

Excel

(Design plus…)

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Panoramic View Monitor
  • Suede-effect upholstery
  • Ambient interior lighting

GR Sport

(Excel plus…)

  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • GR Sport exterior and interior styling
  • JBL audio sound system
  • Head-up display
  • Adaptive headlights

Premiere

(GR Sport plus…)

  • Leather upholstery
  • Bi-tone exterior
 

Practicality & boot space

“The C-HR’s stylish looks harm practicality, with a small boot and unwelcoming back seats”

There’s plenty of room for front occupants, but we were slightly disappointed with the second row given the C-HR’s SUV billing. Its back doors are pretty small for a start, making it harder to access the back seats or load in a bulky child car seat than in a rival like the Skoda Karoq

Once in the back, head and legroom is only average, and the dark headlining, small windows and integrated headrests of the front seats all add up to a fairly claustrophobic feel. It’s a shame, because it makes the C-HR’s rear bench feel smaller and less accommodating than it actually is.

The C-HR’s coupe-style design also affects rear visibility to an extent, because while the rear windscreen is actually reasonably deep, the small rear side windows hamper your over-the-shoulder view. The swooping looks also mean you’re sitting a long way from the windscreen, which might be off-putting for some drivers.

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

Toyota C-HR

4,360mm

1,830mm

1,570mm

Skoda Karoq

4,382mm

1,841mm

1,612mm

Hyundai Kona

4,350mm

1,825mm

1,585mm

Volvo EX30

4,233mm

1,837mm

1,555mm

Boot space

If you’re coming to the C-HR from a hatchback, its 388-litre (364 litres for the 2.0-litre version) boot will likely prove to be a sideways step in terms of practicality, but it’s quite a long way down on SUV rivals. We suspect the PHEV will get an even smaller figure owing to its larger battery pack, and its official figure is still TBC. If you need an SUV for shopping trips and weekends away, the C-HR should be fine, but it may prove frustrating for family holidays or moving bulky items around.

The Skoda Karoq might be in the same class, but it can carry 521 litres behind its rear seats, while the SEAT Ateca is only around 10 litres smaller. The C-HR’s boot also seems lacking in clever features, with a fixed height floor and rudimentary 60:40 split and fold rear seats. Some rivals offer sliding rear seats with 40:20:40 folding and reclining for added convenience and comfort, along with an adjustable floor to optimise the load space and handles inside the boot to flip the rear seats down.  

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

Toyota C-HR

388 litres

Skoda Karoq

512 litres

Hyundai Kona

466 litres

Volvo EX30

318 litres

Reliability & safety

“Likely to prove reliable and safe, but some of the active safety kit is overly sensitive”

The signs are promising that the C-HR should prove reliable. Despite being on the market for a number of years, the outgoing model was still ranked in a respectable 25th position out of the top 75 models in our 2023 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with solid scores for build quality and reliability. Toyota also performed fairly well, coming 12th out of 32 manufacturers overall, and a strong fifth for reliability, with only 15% of owners reporting a first-year fault – compared to 19% and 27% for Peugeot and Volvo respectively. 

There's added reassurance thanks to Toyota's long warranty, which can last for up to 10 years – so long as you don't mind keeping it serviced by Toyota.

Safety

Toyota doesn’t skimp on safety kit either, with every trim level getting features like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and blind-spot warnings as standard, along with kit like automatic high-beam headlights, road-sign warnings, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. There’s more equipment as you go up the range, with Design adding useful tech like rear cross-traffic alert to avoid prangs as you reverse out of parking spaces or driveways.

While it’s an impressive roster, we found some of the systems overly intrusive on our first test drive, which could lead drivers to turn them off. The traffic-sign recognition is the biggest offender, producing an audible bong if you stray slightly over the speed limit, and each time the limit changes. It can be disabled, but the process of doing so is rather irksome.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.8 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £28,979

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 PHEV Design 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £38,364

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 PHEV Design 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £38,364

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