Behind the Wheel

2020 Toyota C-HR Review: A perfectly fine automobile with a nice feature set

Toyota has given the C-HR new fascia for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

I was watching a movie the other day and it reminded me of the car I've been testing this week. The movie was "Chef", a fantastic labor of love from Jon Favreau, the big budget director of "Iron Man", "Elf", and the live-action "Lion King".

The gist is that Favreau plays a formerly rising star chef who is toiling in a successful L.A. restaurant but without the creative freedom he strives for. After quitting in an expletive filled rant to a food critic that goes viral when filmed by a customer, he decamps the fancy restaurant for the pleasures of running a food truck. Though without the security of a fancy restaurant behind him, he has the creative freedom to make simple-but-amazing Cuban sandwiches and other delicious creations.

2020 Toyota C-HR The C-HR was originally designed to be Scion model, but the brand folded and it became a Toyota instead.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The best part of the movie is all the amazing food porn, overseen by chef Roy Choi who was one of the founders of the gourmet food truck movement. What does this have to do with my test car this week?

It's the Toyota C-HR, a subcompact crossover which has two of the letters from "Chef" in it. See what I mean about how important creative freedom is? I spent the first third of this review talking about a movie that has (almost) nothing to do with the car I'm reviewing. Thanks AutomotiveMap.

The C-HR slots beneath the RAV4 in the Toyota lineup, and you can think of it as a jumped-up version of the Corolla Hatchback. It's kind of interesting looking outside and in, with various nips and tucks and oddities like the weird flush-mounted door handle for the rear doors mounted high up around the roofline. Then there's these weird, unnecessary-but-kind-of-pleasing diamond cutouts in the headliner above the driver and passenger.


2020 Toyota C-HR The Toyota C-HR is currently the smallest SUV in the company's lineup.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

And don't forget the wacky rear-end that appears to be an homage to a multi-level modernist apartment building in Tokyo. That's not a bad thing, it's just a little bit different. It gives the car some personality, which is something that Toyotas of the past sorely lacked so I approve of it here.

I like the interior, with ample storage for a phone and your drinks, plus a standard shift knob and a high-mounted, easy-to-see 8.0-inch touch screen surrounded by a bunch of buttons you'll never use. Automatic climate control will keep your significant other from bickering about the temperature in the car (maybe), and there's excellent visibility through the front at least.

As with (almost) all Toyotas, the feature set is straightforward. My C-HR Limited weighed in at $28,435 nearly fully loaded, including a $465 Audio Plus package that presumably makes the stereo more... plus. It also has a wide variety of useful features like Toyota's excellent safety suite including full automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.

There's LED headlights and auto-folding mirrors (the latter of which has generally been a luxury car feature, so it's nice to see it moving down market), as well as more typical fare like heated seats, push-button start, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It integrates with Amazon Alexa too, if you're excited about that.

There's a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that mostly stays out of your way — lots of car reviewers complain about CVTs but I think most folks don't really care, so it's fine.

On its own, the C-HR is a perfectly fine automobile with a nice feature set — but it is growing a little long in the tooth. This particular generation is almost four years old, and is facing very stiff competition from the Hyundai Venue that I reviewed last week. Also, at $28,400, you're getting close to entry-level RAV4 territory, which comes with a lot more space and also the option of all-wheel drive if you're likely to drive in slippery conditions.

There's also the question of how much longer the C-HR may be around given the recent debut of the Toyota Corolla Cross.

If you're looking for a solid subcompact crossover with a weird name, you can pick the Toyota CH-R. Or the Hyundai Venue. Or the Nissan Kicks. I'm pretty sure all those choices will make you happy. But only one of them has two of the letters from "Chef" in the name.

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Vehicle sales numbers

Toyota has sold over 50 million Corollas

Toyota has sold tens of millions of Corollas over the last 55 years.

Toyota

The Toyota Corolla entered its 12th generation in 2019, after more than 50 years on sale. Now, in 2021, the automaker says the car has reached another benchmark, this time with an almost unbelievable number attached to it. In Today, Toyota says that in July 2021, it sold the 50-millionth Corolla. That's almost one Corolla sold for every six Americans alive today, though the sales total includes international vehicles as well.


1969 Toyota Corolla The Corolla's frugal powertrain helped it grow quickly in the United States.Toyota


The Corolla debuted in 1966 but didn't make its way to our shores until spring 1968. Sold as a 1969 model, the car had a starting price of around $1,700 at a time when the median household income was $7,700. The first cars had a short-stroke 1,077-cc four-cylinder engine, 12-inch wheels, and a four-speed manual transmission. That powertrain produced only 60 horsepower, which was good for the car to (eventually) reach 60 mph in about 17 seconds.

Though the car's quality and design helped, it was the oil crisis in the early 1970s that really pushed it to the top of buyers' lists. Big American cars powered by V8 engines fell out of favor as fuel rationing and higher prices took hold. The early Corolla's fuel economy of over 35 mpg helped it earn a place in many Americans' driveways as a result.


2021 Toyota Corolla Cross 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation


Toyota notes that it was building Corollas in the United States by the mid-1980s and says that the current generation car is built at its manufacturing facility in Mississippi. The automaker's new joint plant with Mazda, which is located in Huntsville, Alabama, will start building the new Corolla Cross this summer.

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