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Toyota C-HR Koba AWD 2017 review: family test

Everyone had something to say about this car. From the moment I picked it up, to the moment I dropped it off a week later, I got comments from just about everyone who saw it – family, friends, neighbours, my physio, even the garbage men who saw us shooting this video and just had to come over and ask what it was… this car is a talking point. And that’s because it’s different.

The C-HR[1] launched in early 2017 into the small SUV market[2], going up against cars like the Mazda CX-3[3] and the Honda HR-V[4]. From a company known for its basic but solid vehicles, everyone sat up and took notice. But how does this seriously sporty car perform for a family?

I drove the Koba, which is the top of the range, and here are five things I loved over the week with my family of four, and five things I thought could do with some improvement.

1. The Look

People literally stopped me in the street to ask “what is that?” They were intrigued. It’s sportier than any regular SUV[5] on the road, and almost looks like a rally car, which in an SUV is an interesting concept.

It’s also really cool. You actually do feel a bit like you are driving a rally car when you’re inside. The colour combinations (I drove the charcoal, but there is a bright yellow version that’ll get your heart racing) with the shiny black roof is of particular note.

I mean, who or what is this car trying to be?

People literally stopped me in the street to ask “what is that?”. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The C-HR is sportier than any regular SUV on the road. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

This is the kind of car that you get when you’re in between life stages. You might already have a baby, or have one on the way, or have very young children. You know you should be thinking about an SUV but you can’t quite bring yourself to plunge headfirst into a traditional ‘family’ looking vehicle, but a hatch is too small.

Fair enough. This car is for those people who have one toe in the family car category, and the rest of the foot firmly out of the family car category. There’s no reason to give it all up just because you have kids, you don’t need a boring car.

This car looks anything but boring.

2. The Zippiness

It’s a small engine, yes. A 1.2-litre turbo[6].

But it’s fun to drive – zippy, swifty, it gets you from A to B without any trouble at all. Handles well on corners. Is fast to take off or take over.

And when you’re driving a family around in suburbia, or you do a lot of city driving, the engine does its job superbly. The seats are comfortable, in the Koba they are leather accented and also heated. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

3. The Interior Space

When I first saw it, I was a bit concerned that my four-year old and six-year old would be squished, or wouldn’t find it comfortable.

But climb inside, because the interior is surprisingly spacious. There’s enough legroom in the front, and enough space in the back for a whole family of four to fit comfortably. Even a third child in the back would be fine.

There’s no extra space like a Kluger[7], granted, but when you don’t need it, you don’t miss it. This is a small SUV and there is definitely enough room for the four us to fit without feeling like we’re in a too-tight jar.

4. The Fuel Consumption

Another big tick from the family car reviewer.

If the fuel is cheap, everyone’s happy, right? And a small 1.2L engine uses less fuel than a bigger one. Toyota claims a 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle[8], and on the last two Cars Guide tests, we got 7.7L and 7.9 L respectively.

That’s certainly on the cheaper end of good.

5. The Safety

The C-HR has seven airbags, including side curtain airbags for the back passengers. There are two ISOFIX points[9] in the back, plus three top tether points.

It comes with Auto Emergency Brakes[10], which means the car will stop for you if you happen to be distracted (though it doesn’t work if you’re travelling under 20km/h, so watch yourself in slow traffic). Plus it comes with a bunch of other things – blind spot monitoring[11], a reverse parking camera[12], and front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control[13], and a lane departure system[14] that will take over the steering if it can sense you’re drifting. Now for the five things I thought could do with a bit more thinking on Toyota’s part[15].

1.

The Look

Yes, I know that’s also in the positives, but I think the looks are appealing to a particular kind of customer, and that customer may not be everyone. It almost feels a little bit like a remote control car. Not real.

A bit Batman-y. The looks aren’t for everyone. (image credit: Dean McCartney) If it’s to your taste, great, and it certainly grew on me over the week – I loved that it was different.

But it won’t be everyone’s car of choice. If it’s not, go for the charcoal over the bright colours and wind the look down. The interiors too, were a bit OTT.

Brown panels over the black in front and on the back doors aren’t my thing.

2. The Back Rear Panels

Now, while there is enough space in the back, the way the car is designed and it’s sporty edge brings up the side panels at the rear to a point, which results in a triangular panel, right near the heads of the back passengers, where a bigger window would normally be. This brings a sense of darkness in the back seat.

While that’s cosy and certainly good if you want your kids to go to sleep, it takes away that sense of airiness, that sense of lightness. The back is not small, but those panels make it feel less spacious than it is. They also provide some visibility problems – I found myself craning my neck out more than once to make sure there were no cars coming.

It’s not poor visibility as such, but it’s not as good as it could be. So as long as you’re willing to sacrifice that for a sporty looking vehicle, you’ll be fine.

3. The Cabin Storage

I’m all about practicality.

Come on, I’m a mum. This means I needs places – note the plural – to stash my keys, sunnies, wallet and phone. But they are missing in this car.

There are two cupholders in the front and a bottle holder in each door, plus pockets behind the front seats. Oh, and a tiny shelf in the front for your phone. And that’s it.

There are two cupholders in the front and a bottle holder in each door. (image credit: Dean McCartney) I found myself chucking all my stuff in the cupholders – everything from the girls’ hair elastics to my keys and sunnies, which meant that the cupholders didn’t actually function as cupholders. More storage would be ideal.

4.

The Rear Air Vents

This wasn’t a huge problem, because the car is small, so the air does travel to the back quite well, but it’s just something Toyota could have done better than the competition. Most of the other small SUVs don’t have rear air vents either, and this could have been one easy way to one-up them in their already established market foothold, but they didn’t. I’m voting yes to rear air vents because my children get hot in their car seats.

5.

The Good News

The good new is, there was no number five. I couldn’t think of another thing I was so unhappy with that I had to write about it. It also means the good outweighs the bad if you’re a fan of pros and cons lists (clearly I am).

For a more detailed review, click here[16].

References

  1. ^ The C-HR (www.carsguide.com.au)
  2. ^ small SUV market (www.carsguide.com.au)
  3. ^ Mazda CX-3 (www.carsguide.com.au)
  4. ^ Honda HR-V (www.carsguide.com.au)
  5. ^ regular SUV (www.carsguide.com.au)
  6. ^ 1.2-litre turbo (www.carsguide.com.au)
  7. ^ Kluger (www.carsguide.com.au)
  8. ^ 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle (www.carsguide.com.au)
  9. ^ ISOFIX points (www.carsguide.com.au)
  10. ^ Auto Emergency Brakes (www.carsguide.com.au)
  11. ^ blind spot monitoring (www.carsguide.com.au)
  12. ^ reverse parking camera (www.carsguide.com.au)
  13. ^ active cruise control (www.carsguide.com.au)
  14. ^ lane departure system (www.carsguide.com.au)
  15. ^ Toyota’s part (www.carsguide.com.au)
  16. ^ click here (www.carsguide.com.au)

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid: Our View

The 2018 Toyota Camry got a much-needed, comprehensive redesign (see the review[1]), and those changes carry over to the Camry Hybrid. In addition to welcome new styling and better chassis dynamics, the Camry Hybrid also boasts much better fuel economy. Figures vary by trim level: The LE (the trim level I tested) has EPA-estimated mileage of 51/53/52 mpg city/highway/combined.

That combined figure is a 30 percent improvement over the 2017’s 42/38/40 mpg rating. SE and XLE models get a 21 percent improvement for 2018: 44/47/46 mpg versus 40/37/38. Compare the 2018 Camry Hybrid with last year’s model here[2].

Needless to say, the Hybrid’s mileage dwarfs the regular Camry[3], which at its best is rated 34 mpg combined with the four-cylinder and 26 mpg with the V-6. Of course, the higher mileage comes at a higher price — £3,800 more than the gas version when comparing the base, LE trims.

What We Tested

The Camry Hybrid is offered in three trim levels: LE, SE and XLE. Our test vehicle was the lowest trim, an LE, which starts at £28,695 (including destination charge).

The SE jumps up to £30,395, and the XLE, which offers the most luxury features, to £33,145. Our LE test car had a few options added, as well, including blind spot warning, a moonroof, Qi wireless smartphone charging and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, among others, which pushed the final price to £31,600.

How It Drives

On top of its fuel economy improvements, the hybrid system is more powerful, as well, producing 208 net horsepower versus last year’s 200 hp. Power comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motor/generators.

LE models get a new lithium-ion battery, while the SE and XLE keep last year’s nickel-metal-hydride battery.

The Camry Hybrid drives a cut above the true eco hybrids on the market (like the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq). Thanks to a more powerful gas engine than those vehicles have, the Camry Hybrid never feels as strained, and it has plenty of power, even from a stop. The 2018 Camry Hybrid gets the same chassis and suspension improvements as the gas model, and it’s a much better-driving car than the previous generation.

While it isn’t really sporty, it rides very well; over the course of an 800-mile road trip I was impressed by its

While the car isn’t really sporty, it rides very well; over the course of an 800-mile road trip I was impressed by its quietness and overall comfort.

Interior

The Camry Hybrid LE I drove had cloth seats and a basic interior. I’ve previously driven a Camry XSE, and that car had a large advantage in terms of materials and a near-luxury feel. The LE is much more basic; there’s one section of stitched leather on the dash and the rest is a combination of hard plastics and more budget surfaces.

While that’s not unexpected in a lower trim level in this class, it’s hard to swallow given the premium you pay for the Hybrid. The Camry Hybrid does at least come with a few extra screens in both the instrument panel and the center dashboard screen, displaying different fuel economy statistics and allowing drivers to monitor how eco-friendly their driving is. The center screen comes with a glossy, black bezel that looks nice but attracts fingerprints and dust.

One other drawback to this screen: If the sun catches it at the right angle, it can reflect very brightly into your face while driving. Toyota is not the lone culprit in this; it’s happened to me across several makes and models this year, as it seems to be the price of putting surfaces like this on the dashboard. The media system also lacks Android Auto[4] and Apple CarPlay[5].

Toyota is one of the lone holdouts still not offering these technologies in its vehicles, instead supporting its own application suite, Entune. A new version, called Entune 3.0[6], makes its debut on the Camry, so I don’t expect the brand to abandon this approach any time soon.

Cargo room has grown for 2018, as the battery has moved from the trunk area to a new home under the rear seats. That gives the Hybrid cargo capacity identical to the gas Camry: 15.1 cubic feet.

Value

Like most Toyotas, the Camry Hybrid offers excellent value on the safety side, with standard adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The LE’s interior, however, isn’t as easy to swallow at £30,000-plus as it is closer to the mid-£20,000s. All around, the Camry Hybrid is a solid mid-size sedan: It drives well, offers a good amount of standard equipment (especially on the safety front) and is much more stylish than before. And when it comes to fuel economy, the LE stands on its own in its class; its only real fuel economy rivals are vehicles like the Prius and Ioniq — dedicated hybrids that don’t drive as well.

Competition for the lower-mileage trim levels comes from a wide slate of mid-size hybrids, however, including the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Honda Accord Hybrid, all of which have estimated combined mileage in the 40s[7].

Compare the Camry Hybrid with those models here[8].

The Camry Hybrid’s closest competitor, the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid (48 mpg combined), is awaiting its own update: The redesigned 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid will debut early next year, likely with improved mileage of its own.

References

  1. ^ review (www.cars.com)
  2. ^ here (www.cars.com)
  3. ^ dwarfs the regular Camry (www.fueleconomy.gov)
  4. ^ Android Auto (www.android.com)
  5. ^ Apple CarPlay (www.apple.com)
  6. ^ Entune 3.0 (www.toyota.com)
  7. ^ combined mileage in the 40s (www.fueleconomy.gov)
  8. ^ here (www.cars.com)

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