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Entry price: $21,145

Price as tested: $25,254

Likes: Excellent value, lots of safety equipment, good looks.

Dislikes: Android compatibility unavailable, noisy under full throttle, needs more power.

This week, we’re driving a 2019 Toyota C-HR, an entry added to the Toyota lineup last year. Listed as a compact by the EPA, major competition comes from the Kia Soul, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Kicks, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Trax and Mazda CX-3, all formidable competitors.  

The C-HR came to life when Toyota discontinued its lower priced Scion models and then re-badged them and moved them into the Toyota family of vehicles.

This realignment results in many positives and a few negatives when discussing the C-HR that Toyota lists as one of its crossover models.

First the positives, and specifically one big one: Price.

Scion was noted for low retail prices and these new Toyota C-HR models follow that winning premise. Unlike 2018, three C-HRs are available for 2019 as Toyota adds a lower cost entry C-HR LE trim that starts at just $21,145. Following are carryovers from ’18 ala the XLE model at $22,980 and then the upscale XLE Premium, which adds more amenities and starts at $26,200.

One thing I like about C-HR is its handling. Thanks to standard 18-inch tires on nice alloy wheels, there wasn’t a turn or corner the little Toyota didn’t like. Cruising was comfortable, too, although there is more than the usual road and engine noise common to these lower-priced smaller car models. But overall, and thanks to well built underpinnings, lots of safety features and good ABS 4-wheel disc brakes, this little car is fun to drive and easy to park.

Another positive is an infotainment upgrade. Toyota previously used the lower grade stereo/info 6-speaker system on its Scion models. Although the current system on our XLE is still 6-speakers, Apple CarPlay is now standard across the line whereas last year it was not offered. Toyota also brings over its respected Entune 3.0 Audio with App system to replace the dated Scion info system.

And you Android users? Sorry, you’re still out of luck as for whatever reason, Toyota decides to only offer Apple CarPlay at this point with the C-HR.

The only other negative in my opinion is the CVT automatic transmission. I’m just not sold on them and haven’t been since introduced in other manufacturer vehicles. It’s a personal thing with me, and I hope the Toyota CVT is better than some of its competitor’s CVTs when it comes to proper operation once a car gets over 75,000 miles on it.         

Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine mates to the aforementioned CVT automatic and is the only drivetrain combo available.

For me, I did get used to the CVT and its “Sport/Normal/Eco” mode selects, but I’d sure like to see a 6-speed manual or even a lowly 4-speed automatic behind this engine for more peppy results. As for acceleration, expect zero to 60 mph in about 10.5 to 11 seconds, which is nowadays not a time to brag about. Fuel mileage, however, delivers EPA estimates of 27 city and 31 highway, both competitive in this growing subcompact to compact crossover classification.  

Now for really good news on Toyota C-HR.

C-HR XLE comes packed with standard safety features, meaning you don’t need to spend a few thousand more on the XLE and XLE Premium models to receive the uppermost in modern safety protection. Toyota’s standard Safety Sense package delivers pre-collision and pedestrian detection, 10 airbags, lane departure warning, lane keep assistance, daytime running lamps, automatic high beams and automatic emergency braking. The C-HR also receives adaptive cruise control and the rear safety camera view is now delivered through the Entune 8.0-inch display screen. The only safety item the entry LE does not have is the rear cross traffic blind spot monitor, but most drivers can live without it considering that all the other high-tech safety equipment is standard.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.


Auto Bits

You’re probably waiting too long to put on winter tires

While the threat of snow is what gets most people thinking about putting winter tires on their cars, if you’re waiting for snow before you make the switch, then you’re waiting too long.

Winter tires or snow tires?  These terms are used interchangeably, which is why so many people wrongly assume the sole reason for switching tires in the winter is the snow. Winter tires are called winter tires because they’re designed to handle not just snow, but cold.

That means you don’t have to wait for the first snow to put winter tires on your car. 

As a rule of thumb, when the weather is consistently below 40 degrees, then you should use winter tires even if the sun is shining and there’s not a snowflake in sight.

Imagine your favorite candy bar. At room temperature it’s just right. Leave that same candy bar in your car on a summer day and it becomes a gooey mess that ends up all over your shirt. Put it in the freezer, and it gets so hard you need a knife to snap off a piece.

The rubber in tires is just like that candy bar. It’s soft and pliant on a hot summer day, while winter weather makes it stiff and brittle. 

Nicole Wakelin/BestRide.com


Did You Know

The Infiniti brand first appeared on the scene 30 years ago, in 1989.