Toyota C-HR, the spiritual succesor to the defunct Toyota Urban Cruiser. Urban what? That’s what I thought. And yet the Toyota C-HR has sold more than Twisted Sister’s concert tickets, with the clientele being about the same age. But is it worth your money instead?

If I were to compare the Toyota C-HR to a person, it would be Katy Perry. You’ve known her for many years, she’s a pretty safe music producer. Her music won’t make you throw up but also won’t blow your socks off, it’s mainsteam music that you’re comfortable with, making it a pleasurable experience for those 4 minutes (like other pleasurable activities that last unfortunately just 1 minute though). It’s just that every once in a while Katy Perry does something so cool that really does blows your socks off. Either a new tune, either some shocking video, something that is a hit with the youth (she is 380 years old after all), even if she’s not very good at it, and yet people are into it.


That’s pretty much how it is with the Toyota C-HR. A sequel to the defunct Urban Cruiser, the Toyota C-HR was the conservative brand’s attempt to enter the youth market. Much like Katy Perry, it came with a appealing exterior look and one that keeps up with to today’s standards, but the interior is pretty much the same. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that there’s nothing exciting about it. It’s absolutely decent, but not extra. Much like thechoice of engines for Europe, engines which are also decent but lag so far behind the looks that it’s like comparing the old Top gear to the new Top Gear. Yes, the Toyota C-HR looks great on the outside, but underneath it’s pretty much a Toyota Prius. The drivetrain is identical to the one used on the Prius, Auris Hybrid or Lexus CT200h, the same 1.8 petrol hybrid and, perhaps most disappointingly, the fact that the 4×4 system is as useless as spoiled beer. Or traffic lights. The 122 horsepower 1.8 hybrid petrol doesn’t get the 4×4 system, but the 116 horsepower 1.2 turbo engine can be optioned with 4×4, because obviously an 1.2 petrol is suitable for off-road driving. Why would you only give the 4×4 system on the smaller engine? Just because you don’t have room for the differential and batteries? Surely the Toyota people could’ve found a solution.


Toyota C-HR Engines


  • 1.2 Turbo of 116 horsepower – They say smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from other people’s mistakes and legends outright steal. So Toyota decided to be a legend. It studied VW’s TSI and Ford’s EcoBoost engines, analyzed the whole small turbocharged petrol ordeal and launched its own edition: the 1.2 Turbo 8NR-FTS. A pretty reliable engine, because Toyota did their homework properly by only introducing it in 2015, considering the fact that the Ford’s EcoBoost debuted in 2012 and VW’s TSI in 2009. Still, as tradition goes with small turbocharged petrols, some engines might chug down oil early in life.
  • 1.8 NA of 98 horsepower – The classic, Atkinson-cycle variant of Toyota’s 1.8 petrol. Curious enough as this engine is the backbone of the hybrid powertrain, but was offered without it somehow. Decent for a Corolla, but for an C-HR. I’m not completely sold.
  • 2.0 NA of 144 horsepower – Available only in the US of A, the larger 2.0 petrol is the older generation 3ZR-FAE and that’s a pretty good move. Sure, it may suffer from the traditional oil consumption later in life, but it’s pretty much business as usual.


  • 1.8 petrol hybrid of 122 horsepower – There’s not much to discuss about Toyota’s legendary 1.8 hybrid. Used on most Toyota + Lexus hybrid cars, this engine has no specific reliability issues apart from the later in life oil consumption.
  • 2.0 petrol hybrid of 204 horsepower – New engines for new times. You might think that it’s the same 3ZR-FAE, and you’d be wrong. This is the new M20-FXS engine, part of the new line-up of engines launched in 2019. It has direct injection and many new toys and the big issue here is that the engine can’t be repaired. If it’s done, it’s done. Fortunately it’s built by Toyota so it will take awhile until it will be done. Furthermore, most of the heavy urban lifting will be done by the hybrid powertrain, so the engine won’t be stressed out like when you find out her period is late.


Toyota C-HR General Issues

  • I’ll start with the most obvious one and that is composed of the rear seats and the rear visibility. More specifically, the lack of rear space, and the rear visibility gives you equivalent vision to drinking 5 Primator 24 Double beers. In fact, come to think of it, the rear window is the size of Marisa Calihan’s outfit during Survivor. To say that a reverse camera comes standard is as redundant as saying that “Primator 24 Double” sounds awfully alot like “I’m not going to work tomorrow”
  • I don’t get the love story between Toyota and CVT transmissions, and the C-HR comes only with this gearbox. CVT automatic transmission which if it fails it will cost you easily half the value of the car so make sure to stick to the maintenance plan by the letter and at the slightest sign of fatigue you have to run straight to the dealership and hope it will be covered the warranty. And it also cuts down heavily on sportiness, but who am I kidding, nobody buys an C-HR with sportiness in mind.
  • It’s a Toyota so again I have to talk about the manufacturer’s complementary issues namely the infotainment system and steering column, and in the case of the Toyota C-HR which is more crammed with technology than a japanese subway.


Toyota C-HR Verdict

It certainly looks the part but it pretty much just looks the part. If we Europeans got the 2 litre petrol or atleast the 204 horsepowehybrid version instead, surely the discussion would be different about the Toyota C-HR. And to come up with an anemic 116-horsepower 1.2 turbo and looks like that it’s like being an bodybuilder who is all show and no go. Those americans are really lucky with that fun engine.

But if you look at it from a city cross-over perspective, with a 1.2 turbocharged petrol with a manual tranmission and front wheel drive then you definitely have an modern, cool-looking urban car. Until you see the price, after which it quickly becomes uninteresting. Like how it happens to me 2 minutes into a conversation with a woman. Seriously, the C-HR is really expensive, both new and used.


Which engines do you recommend? Clearly, I’m going to recommend the tried and tested 122 horsepower 1.8 Hybrid.