2021 Toyota C-HR Nightshade
MSRP: $21,595 (base LE) As Tested: $25,934 (Nightshade Edition)
C-HR trades on two, main points – edgy styling and good gas mileage. Toyota’s entry level offering in the Crossovers/SUV’s category (which I’d call a compact, four door hatchback) is available in four trim levels – LE (MSRP $21,595), XLE ($26,330), Nightshade Edition ($24,395) and Limited ($26,650). All models are front wheel drive.
Size-wise, C-HR is indeed compact, measuring out about a foot shorter than the Toyota Corolla. Swoopy and attention getting, the design is – by design – less conservative than Corolla, and hews to the C-HR prototype. Speaking of looks, new for 2021 is the C-HR Nightshade Edition. Essentially an appearance package based on the XLE model, the Nightshade adds a blackout theme, with a black rims (18″, alloy), door handles, badges and chin spoiler. The theme carries over inside with black fabric and gunmetal trim. For full effect, you can go with Black Sand Pearl for the exterior paint, but the package can also be applied to white, gray and red hues.
With or without the Nightshade package, I’d suggest XLE trim if you’re shopping C-HR. That trim level includes 18″ wheels, a smart key with push button start, leather-wrapped, tilt/tele steering wheel, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Most of those are niceties; the last one is a necessity. C-HR’s swoopy shape resolves in back in a sweeping, thick roof pillar that creates a big blind spot for drivers. XLE trims (and up) include blind spot monitoring, with indicators in the outside, rearview mirrors.
All C-HR models get the same engine/transmission combination: a 2.0L four cylinder, linked to a CVT. The engine is rated at 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque. It feels peppy running around town. However, high demand situations (passing, highway merges), require advance planning, because it takes a while to gather speed. Average driving produces average noise levels. Full throttle blasts generate some CVT droning. The flip side to the modest power is fewer trips to the gas station. The EPA estimates say you can expect 27 city, 31 highway, and 29 combined. My test week mileage was never less than 30 mpg’s, and most of that time was not spent on the highway. Given its sporty looks, I’m surprised that Toyota doesn’t offer the option of a turbocharged version. It would expand the car’s potential buyer base. C-HR feels agile and corners easily. Its compact footprint fits anywhere.
The front cabin design has a modern vibe to it, in keeping with the exterior styling. The center of the swoopy dashboard houses an 8″ touchscreen on all trim levels, to access the infotainment system. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a three month trial subscription to Sirius/XM is included. There’s enough room to squeeze a six footer in the back seat behind a like-size driver, provided that the latter keeps an upright seat. The car’s rising beltline makes for limited window views in back. Cargo space ranges from 19-37 cu.-ft., which compares with a segment leading 24.3-58.8, in the Honda HR-V.
A 40 year resident of the Capital District, Dan Lyons is the author of six automotive books, and photographer of more than 200 calendars.