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I am a Washington DC based actor, photographer, car reviewer, Gay, LGBTQ issues, politics and travel blogger.

I also freelance for other publications and platforms. 

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2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium — Cool Urban Cruiser

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium — Cool Urban Cruiser

Price:     $28,794, as tested, including a 950.00 delivery charge 

MPG:      29 MPG, combined (27 City, 31 Highway)

0 — 60   11.0 seconds

I reviewed the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium under some pretty extreme conditions during a week of monsoonal winds and rains along the East Coast.   I used it to do some errands around town.  Check out the video.     

I logged a total of  584.5 miles in the C-HR, most of them on a round trip from Washington DC to New York city.   The DC to NYC leg was like driving in a washing machine.  I used all the standard Toyota Safety sense tech to get New York safely.  Traffic was as heavy as the rain in Maryland so the forward-collision warning,  adaptive cruise control, lane departure with steering assist and automatic emergency braking were all very useful. 

I got a “clean radar sensor” message on the dash during an extremely heavy downpour.  I had already reduced my speed due to the deteriorating conditions.  Geek alert — Ok, I’ll admit it.  I have experience with military radar systems and wondered how well the Toyota system would work under extreme conditions. The system, in effect, told me when it could no longer function due to weather, and a few minutes later, it told me that it was ready to operate.  The feedback the system provided was spot on.  My point here is that “driver assistive technologies” are there to help make driving safer — the driver still needs to be attentive and engaged with in the driving experience.  

Forward visibility was great despite the rain due to the excellent halogen headlights, fog lights and LED daytime running lights.  The New Jersey turnpike was pretty open but the rain and high winds were relentless.  The front wheel drive C-HR remained surefooted throughout.  There is no all wheel drive or four wheel drive option on C-HR.  

One gripe — The 2018 C-HR doesn’t offer navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.  The 7 inch touch screen display, which dominates the dashboard isn’t very useful after you configure the vehicle and the audio system. Not even the rear view camera uses the touch screen!  Its image shows up on the rear view camera.  I hit the “screen off” button which thankfully blanks the screen.  The screen is still active however, messages appear and disappear as required.  Toyota will offer AppleCarPlay and Android Auto on the 2019 C-HR, and not too soon.

The C-HR, which stands for Compact High Rider is a great driving crossover.  Its driving dynamics benefit from Toyota’s stiff New Global Architecture which is also used on the new Prius.  It is no sports car, however, the 2.0 liter four cylinder engine makes 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, and needs 11 seconds to sprint to 60 miles per hour.  I was surprised when I saw the 0-60 times; the C-HR doesn’t feel slow.  Switch the CVT transmission to sports mode and it simulates a 7 speed transmission.  I tried it. It’s ok. ‘Nuf said.

C-HR styling is muscular, sculptured, hunkered down, bold.  I like the four-door coupe roof line design which is amped up on the two tone C-HRs like my Iceberg of Ruby Flare Metallic C-HR.  

The C-HR is offered in only two trim levels — XLE ($22,500) and XLE Premium ($24,350).  Virtually no options are offered.  XLE Premium adds Fog Lamps, Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, Smart Key with passive entry and push-button start, and sport seats with driver power lumbar support.  If you just have to have puddle lights and automatic folding side mirror coolness, opt for the XLE Premium trim level.

The interior is spacious and quiet.  The seats were comfortable during my round trip to New York.  The rear hatch is huge and the 60/40 rear seats fold flat.  No sunroof is offered but headroom abounds.

I see a lot of C-HRs driving around DC in dark monochrome colors which make them look even more rugged.  The added roof rails, I’ve seen on many, are dead giveaways that their hipster owners take their bikes to Rock Creek park or to nearby beaches on the weekends.  

The C-HR was intended for Toyota’s discontinued youth-oriented Scion brand.  Scions were offered with nearly no options, just like the C-HR. Buyers who want AWD/4WD, more power and options have to go to Toyota’s best selling RAV4 or a Toyota competitor like the Honda HR-V, Ford EcoSport or Mazda CX-3.  Is the lack of drive train choices and options hampering C-HR sales in the hotly contested entry-level SUV/crossover market?  Maybe.  If you want a cool urban cruiser that will get you there in style and comfort, check out the C-H

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