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2020 Toyota C-HR Long-Term Review, Part 4: The Final Report Card

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Auto123 reviews the 2020 Toyota C-HR in a long-term test drive. Today, Part Four.

See also: 2020 Toyota C-HR Long-Term Review, Part 1: Humans and Their Toys

See also: 2020 Toyota C-HR Long-Term Review, Part 2: Fire in the Belly

See also: 2020 Toyota C-HR Long-Term Review, Part 3: Cool & Chill

At the tail end of four weeks spent with the 2020 Toyota C-HR Limited, during which I added 1,200 km to its odometer (it would have been more had I not been occupied at dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the new 2021 edition of the L’Annuel de l’automobile automotive guide), I regretfully handed over the keys.

The bon vivant vibe of the model and its format, and its nimble handling backed by a suspension well calibrated to mix comfort and sportiness, will make me miss the little guy. I’ll also miss its sprightly and original good looks. I may not be in the targeted age group for the C-HR, but its undeniable youthful joie-de-vivre seemed to take a few years off my age, at least for a while.

Might Toyota have produced the fabled elixir of eternal youth without knowing it?

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2020 Toyota C-HR, three-quarters rear
Photo: M.Crépault
2020 Toyota C-HR, three-quarters rear

The nitpicks
What bothered me about the C-HR amounted basically to two points:

1) The tendency of the rear cargo space, when empty, to function as an amplifier of sorts for all the parasitic noises that invade from outside. Cement paving was definitely the noisiest surface to ride over. On the other hand, drive the car over a surface that’s smooth like the botoxed face of an aging Hollywood starlet, and you experience some real serenity.

2) It’s no use falling back on the audio system to cover the outside noises, which invade your space with high-fidelity forcefulness. As I mentioned previously, the buyers targeted by this model expect better from their sound system than they get. As do audiophiles of any age, mind you. In Europe, by the way, Toyota has asked long-time partner JBL to produce for the model there a better audio option. In the name of all Canadian music lovers, I demand aural parity!

2020 Toyota C-HR, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Toyota C-HR, front

Kazuhiko Isawa, lead designer of the C-HR model, had this to say about his baby:

“We didn’t set out to create an SUV that’s dynamic, but rather a dynamic vehicle that offers the qualities of an SUV. We wanted it to stand out for its unique personality and be fully original.”

Fully original? Yep. About that point there’s simply no arguing.

I also agree with the “dynamic” attribution – except for the unpleasant howling from the 2.0L/CVT tandem when you push it around a little. Which actually makes the C-HR into an incentive to be on time in your daily life. How so? Better to plan and give yourself time to get where you’re going on schedule than have to be aggressive with the gas pedal and torture your eardrums and teeth.

As for the trunk, which is admittedly smaller than many of the model’s rivals, I would think you get used to it in the long run. Just don’t expect to go lugging church pews around…

The 2020 Toyota C-HR, next to a much more sober CR-V
Photo: M.Crépault
The 2020 Toyota C-HR, next to a much more sober CR-V

Speaking of rivals…
The C-HR sits on the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform that’s made the rounds across the Toyota range of models. When I asked Toyota Canada to identify for me the model’s direct rivals, I was told the Honda HR-V, Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-3 and CX-30. Okay then, let’s compare a few measurements and capabilities, for instance their respective wheelbases and lengths (in mm) and of course cargo space (in litres, once the seats are folded down):

Wheelbase / length / cargo

Toyota C-HR             2640 / 4360 / 1031
Honda HR-V             2610 / 4294 / 1665
Mazda CX-3             2570 / 4274 / 1528
Mazda CX-30            2652 / 4395 / 1280
Nissan Qashqai         2646 / 4323 /1509 to 1730

To those, we could add the Korean models…

Hyundai Kona             2600 / 4180 / 1296
Kia Niro             2700 / 4355 / 1543 to 1804

And why not these as well…

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross                    2670 /4405 / 1385
Nissan Kicks              2620 / 4295 / 915
Subaru Crosstrek         2665 / 4465 / 1220 to 1565

We could, but won’t for lack of space, add the American products to the list (Chevrolet Trax and Trailblazer, Ford EcoSport, Jeep Compass, etc.).

A Toyota C-HR face to face with a Honda HR-V, also much more sober
A Toyota C-HR face to face with a Honda HR-V, also much more sober

Anony-toasters no more
Clearly, the compact crossover segment is an increasingly crowded space. In the face of all that competing machinery, the C-HR reflects the desire of Toyota’s big boss Akio Toyoda to offer consumers a vehicle that’s more interesting to look at and to drive than the appliances on wheels that his predecessors tended to produce.

And even as I bawl petulantly for a larger trunk, better audio system, AWD and a hybrid powertrain, I can almost hear the Toyota boss telling me to shut up and go check out the RAV4 in the showroom then.

Pop quiz
To thank you for accompanying me during my four fun weeks in this fun car, a test! Well just a friendly quiz actually. First question: What does C-HR stand for?

a)    Compact High Rider
b)    Cross Hatch Run-about
c)    Coupe High Rider

According to Toyota, both a) and b) are the correct answers. I have to say, though, that personally I find c) is a really good answer, and in fact several European journalists have just gone ahead and adopted that moniker for the model.

Second question: The C-HR, first revealed at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and made available here as of April 2017 as a 2018 model, is assembled in four different factories around the world, located in four different countries. Where is the model sold in Canada built?

a)    Japan
b)    China
c)    Turkey
d)    Thailand

If you chose the country harboring the magnificent Blue Mosque and its six mighty minarets, you win – c) it is. But what do you win exactly? Why, an appointment for my next long-term review right here on Auto123, of course! Until then…

The 2020 Toyota C-HR, saying goodbye
Photo: D.Boshouwers
The 2020 Toyota C-HR, saying goodbye
The Toyota C-HR concept, 2014
Photo: Toyota
The Toyota C-HR concept, 2014