Toyota tries to shed its boring image with the 2018 C-HR subcompact crossover

The 2018 Toyota C-HR took a long and convoluted route to its U.S. debut at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show this week. It debuted as a concept car just over two years ago, and was originally supposed to be sold here under Toyota’s now-defunct Scion “youth” brand. Now that it’s finally here, is the C-HR worth the wait?

C-HR stands for “Coupe High-Rider,” although this subcompact crossover does have four doors. Toyota tried to camouflage the rear pair by shrinking the rear window, and making a big crease that almost separates the rear wheels from the rest of the body. It’s all part of a fairly extroverted design that also includes slim headlights, protruding taillights, and a low, sloping roofline. It’s Toyota latest attempt to shake its reputation for boring cars.

Underneath the wildly creased sheet metal, the C-HR rides on the same Toyota New Global Architecture platform used by the Prius hybrid. As with the Prius, Toyota tried to imbue the C-HR with sporty handling characteristics. It even took the little crossover to the Nürburgring, the infamous German racetrack that’s become a measuring stick for high performance cars.

The C-HR is far from the most powerful car to show up at the Nürburgring, though. In the U.S., the only available engine will be a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be mandatory as well. Toyota did include a Sport mode that allows manual shifting with seven simulated gears (because CVTs are fearless), and sharpens throttle response.

Toyota says the interior was designed around a “MeZONE” theme that emphasizes the driver. The 7.0-inch central display screen, for example, is positioned on top of the dashboard rather than in it because, Toyota claims, it requires less eye movement from the driver. All C-HR models also come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, a bundle of safety systems including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.

The 2018 Toyota C-HR goes on sale in the U.S. next spring, with pricing to be announced closer to the launch date.

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