The Scion brand is dead, but its ghost inhabits the 2018 Toyota C-HR, an all-new vehicle designed to catch the eye of millennial motorists. The five-door subcompact crossover SUV officially succeeds the Scion xD and Toyota Matrix (at last) and was built to compete with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Kia Niro hybrid, Nissan Juke, and Mazda CX-3.
Though unlikely to collect many fleet registrations, the C-HR does bring a major competitive edge to the segment: Toyota’s Safety Sense is a full suite of active collision-avoidance systems, and it’s built into every new vehicle the Japanese OEM sells in the North American market. That means C-HR drivers are protected by such features as pre-collision and lane-departure alerts, adaptive cruise control, and hill-start assist — some of which can’t even be added as options on other subcompacts.
The C-HR was built to wear a Scion badge, and it shows in a polarizing design language that calls for a low roof, dual spoilers, and 18-inch wheels. Those who are lured in by the new car’s funky exterior may be disappointed by the cabin. Hard plastics abound. The rear seat is cramped. Visibility is limited by massive C-pillars, a raked rear windscreen, and a tiny, rearview mirror-mounted backup camera monitor. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and navigation aren’t even an option.
A 2.0-liter inline four produces 144 horsepower (hp) and 139 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. Paired with a continuously variable transmission, it earns a combined fuel economy score of 29 miles per gallon (mpg). Road testers have criticized the C-HR for underwhelming acceleration and intrusive road and engine noise. They have praised it for an otherwise enjoyable driving experience, particularly around corners and over bumps.
The base XLE comes with keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. XLE Premium editions also feature pushbutton start, heated and power-adjustable driver’s seat, and foglamps. “R-code” editions pair a choice of three body colors with a white roof.
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is in showrooms now. Pricing starts at $22,500 for an XLE and $24,350 for an XLE Premium. Fleet buyers may choose to save a few bucks (and sacrifice some of those advanced safety features) by opting for the Niro or Juke. One could also spend about $2,500 more for a Toyota RAV4, a compact crossover that sports a more traditional design, smartphone integration, navigation, and more room for passengers and cargo.