ScionLife Exclusive: Toyota C-HR Driven and Track Tested
Toyota C-HR becomes an unlikely ally in a most unfamiliar of arenas.
When Toyota called me and asked if I wanted to try out the C-HR, I, naturally, said of course. When Toyota said I would be trying the C-HR at Willow Springs International Raceway, I was a bit skeptical.
The C-HR is Toyota’s latest compact SUV, slotting below the RAV4 as the smallest of the bunch. Like many entry-level crossovers, the C-HR, to most people, is closer to a Corolla hatchback than it is a typical SUV. The compact footprint and relatively low ride height furthers that association. Huh, perhaps plopping it down onto a race track isn’t such a bad idea, after all.
The juxtaposition of this wildly-styled Coupe-High Rider against the nothingness of the High Desert is an interesting thing to take in. I personally find the C-HR to be a more successful swing at what the Nissan Juke tried, and failed to do, which is look interesting. As does seem to be the way with Toyota styling as of late, the C-HR is a blend of angles and creases. To my eyes, it works well with the Magnetic Gray Metallic paint job and contrasting black plastic exterior trim pieces. The standard 18-inch wheels, a vortex of machined finish aluminum and black inlay, keep the cohesive theme running.
But what’s it like to drive?
Exterior thoughts dealt with, it’s on to the inside. From the get-go, the seating position is more Corolla than RAV4, which, to me, is a positive. It’s low enough to feel confident in tossing this thing around the track, high enough to see everything going on.
Upon firing up the 2.0-liter, 144-horsepower inline-four cylinder engine, I was met with a quiet hum. Slot the shifter from park to drive and off we go. Even bumping around the paddock at four-and-a-half miles per hour, the C-HR has a decidedly friendly personality. Everything is light, and tactile to operate. From the steering, to the accelerator, this is a car that makes things feel easy. I could just as easily see my girlfriend driving the C-HR as much as I could see my grandfather doing the same.
I will get to the full daily-drivability factor later, now, it was time to set some scorching hot lap times in this animal.
…Or maybe not.
With the C-HR staged up, and facing down the front straight of the Streets of Willow Springs, I was let loose. With just 144 horsepower on tap, and a continuously-variable transmission distributing the all of that juice to the front wheels, the C-HR is far from a hotrodder’s special. 0-60 MPH happens in about 10 seconds, and accelerating down the Streets of Willow front straight takes about double that time.
The meager acceleration gave ample time to appreciate the interior, I suppose. Oh, look, a corner is coming up.