2018 Toyota C-HR
The upside of the Scion brand’s demise is that things are getting a little more exciting at corporate parent Toyota. This re-branded C-HR, or coupe high rider, gives Toyota a much-needed entry into the subcompact utility category, and one with looks that are quite out there. But, does C-HR also deliver meaningful utility, or is it all about funky style?
First things first, the 2018 Toyota C-HR does indeed give Toyota another entry into what is the fastest growing vehicle choice today, utility vehicles. It slides under the Rav4 in their car-based crossover lineup. First revealed in concept form at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the CH-R also indicates a bolder direction in overall Toyota design.
The production model clearly resembles that concept, but is far from an exact copy. The front end sets a very confident tone; while deep-cut body lines point towards the C-pillars, where there’s both a floating roof design and high-mounted door handles.
From there, an almost horizontal back glass leads to a hacked-off rear with its own aggressive lines. Wheelbase is less than an inch shorter than the RAV4, yet there’s over a foot difference in overall length. 18-inch alloys and 50-Series tires are standard.
There are plenty of aero treatments that the kid’s love these days, including diffuser, spoiler, wheel spats, and even “vortex generators”.
Those high-mounted door handles actually work great. But, do yourself a favor and skip the white roof option; unless you’re going for the taxicab look.
No all-wheel-drive for now, front-wheel-drive only. No factory turbo either, as those front wheels get power from a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 good for 144–horsepower and 139 lb-ft. of torque. Toyota is leaving it to the aftermarket to add more.
Unfortunately, it’s CVT only for tranny duties.
But not so fast; that CVT does a good job of delivering the moderate power smoothly, and CVT-induced engine noise is relatively minor here, as is noise in general.
It’s also has a very solid feeling for a small ute, riding on the Toyota Prius’ recently updated New Global Architecture chassis. Handling is quite good, as it remains very flat in corners, urging you to push it harder than you probably should; though there’s not enough power here for you to really get yourself into too much trouble.
Through the rolling Hill Country around Austin, Texas, we found steering to be very quick, with good feedback through the wheel, as well as through the brake pedal.
Things are very sporty in both look and feel inside, with a hip Scion-like touchscreen audio display, but no Satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto.
Likewise, gauges are more Scion than Toyota; with a 4.2-inch TFT multi-instrument display that gives lots of info including a G-Force monitor.
Front seat space is plentiful and are sufficiently comfortable. All controls are within easy reach. Rear seats are claustrophobic. Not a lot of space, and very little window to see out of; though there are belts for 3 back here.
Like many sub-compact crossovers, cargo space is just adequate; 19.0 cubic-ft. puts it slightly under the Honda HR-V, but much higher than the Mazda CX-3. Folding the seatbacks takes it to more acceptable 36.4 cubic-ft.
Now, as for what this Coupe High Rider crossover is not; well, despite its slick shape, it’s not a coupe, more of a 5-door hatchback. And it doesn’t ride overly high either, with just 5.9-inches of ground clearance. And it’s certainly not a traditional crossover without all-wheel-drive. So what’s left? A lot of target marketing and a respectable amount of fun.
No skimping on safety features however. Toyota’s unfortunately-named Safety Sense P, with Pre-Collision System and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, is standard, as are 10-airbags.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 27-City, 31-Highway, and 29-Combined. For a better than average Energy Impact Score of 11.4-barrels of yearly oil use with 5.0-tons of CO2 emitted.
As for the sticker prices? Base XLE trim starts at $23,460; XLE Premium, at $25,310. That puts it above the Mazda3, Honda HR-V, and Nissan Juke; however, both models are very well equipped, and without options to hike that price up further.
In today’s “multi-culti” world, where we try to combine the best attributes of all cultures; the 2018 Toyota C-HR tries to put crossover practicality into a conglomeration with youthful style and peppy performance; and for the most part succeeds very well.
But still, it’s a form over function piece that much like the Nissan Juke, will appeal mostly to city-dwelling urban adventurers who need an easy to park ride with more flexibility than the typical compact. But, even without all-wheel-drive, that may be enough to give the Scion faithful an easy entry into the “Mother Brand” and make this high ridin’ coupe a hit for Toyota.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 144
- Torque: 139 lb-ft.
- EPA: 27 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.0 tons/yr
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970