Go Bold or Go Home, Toyota Says, Tentatively Ditching Its Longstanding Commitment to Boredom

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
go bold or go home toyota says tentatively ditching its longstanding commitment to

The upcoming Toyota C-HR, which never had a chance to officially wear its former Scion badge, is on a mission.

Toyota is treating its strategically edgy subcompact crossover as something of a canary in the marketplace coal mine, betting on a big consumer response based solely on its styling. The company that built its reputation on staid, reliable, beige cars wants to know what happens when it lets its hair down.

And no, it doesn’t care if you’re offended. Toyota wants to push your buttons, turkey.

Speaking at the Japanese launch of the funky model, C-HR general manager Hiroyuki Koba said the automaker desperately needed a polarizing design.

“If you like it, you love it. If you don’t like it, you never will,” Koba said. “We are looking for customers who disliked Toyota before. We want to turn their heads.”

The automaker hasn’t completely abandoned its cautious nature. Toyota claims market research shows that subcompact crossover buyers place design above all else, so it designed the C-HR to lure them in. The Nissan Juke — first to show up at the funky small crossover party — can’t have all the fun.

With the model, Toyota hopes to smash its average 20-percent new-to-the-brand customer ratio. It has set a global sales target of 170,000.

While the C-HR needn’t worry about being mistaken for a RAV4, all this bold, funky design craziness seems skin-deep. Powering the little ute is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque, with a continuously variable transmission as its sole transmission. However, its rival — the Juke — slathers on the special sauce, offering sport-tuned Nismo and Nismo RS variants boasting 188 and 215 horsepower, respectively.

The Juke is also offered with all-wheel drive, while the C-HR bows with only front-wheel propulsion. Still, if styling is truly what matters most to buyers, maybe the driveline doesn’t matter.

The Toyota C-HR goes on sale in North America this coming spring as a 2018 model.

[Source: Automotive News] [Image: Toyota]

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3 of 62 comments
  • MWolf MWolf on Dec 15, 2016

    If Toyota wants to be "exciting", bring back the MR2 or Supra. So long as it isn't as ugly as some of their other offerings, it would be exciting. A two door CUV with a back end that reminds me vaguely of the Aztek isn't all that exciting, unless flashbacks of one of Pontiac's malformed coffin nails is considered "exciting".

  • Incautious Incautious on Dec 15, 2016

    The problem with Toyota going bold, is most Toyota owners don't want bold. Even just a little bold is reason for the Toyota faithful to shun the thing. Witness the Venza, Toyota Dealers must have been wringing their hands when they first saw it. Basically based on the RX platform with less weight and therefore better handling and performance,It should have been a home run. It very much rides and handles like a Q5. Yet the Toyota faithful snapped up RX's Highlanders and RAV's like there was no tomorrow and shunned the Venza into submission where it's final year sales were like 20,000 units. Toyota sells more Camry's in a couple of weeks then a whole year of Venza's. I actually purchased one because it was not like any other Toyota product. So good luck Toyota with bold. There's lots of Venzas out there now the cheap side now that they are orphans, so check em out. Not perfect by any means, but for the price nothing even comes close

    • OldManPants OldManPants on Dec 15, 2016

      "most Toyota owners don’t want bold" Akio-shogun requests that you kindly slit your belly before sundown today.

  • Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road
  • Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
  • Keith Some of us appreciate sharing these finds. Thank you. I always have liked these. It would a fun work car or just to bomb around in. Easy to keep running. Just get an ignition kill switch and you would have no worries leaving it somewhere. Those OEM size wheels and tires are comical. A Juke has bigger wheels!
  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.