The C-HR R-Tuned: If This Is the Direction Crossovers Are Heading, We'll Stop Complaining

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
the c hr r tuned if this is the direction crossovers are heading well stop

Intended to be the best of both worlds, crossovers deliver the ruggedness of a sport utility vehicle with the handling characteristics of a sedan. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, we’ve often found them lukewarm — sacrificing the best traits of either segment to deliver something that can bridge the gap between them. If that’s what you’re looking for, then there isn’t much of a problem. But we’ve often thought you’d be better off in a hatchback or a more traditional SUV.

Crossovers do have a role to play, however. I find petite examples particularly adept at city duty. But there aren’t many crossovers offering driving excitement below the $40,000 mark, and none of them are particularly svelte. Toyota seems to understand our plight and, in continuing its attempt to rebrand itself as a bold automaker, decided to make something genuinely thrilling out of the ho-hum C-HR.

It’s called the “R-Tuned,” and the manufacturer claims it’s the quickest CUV ever to grace God’s green earth.

That corporate assertion should be prefaced by explaining that the C-HR R-Tuned is not a production vehicle, however. It’s a 600-horsepower showboat the company can show off at SEMA. But it’s pointing in the right direction. If Toyota’s subcompact crossover needed anything, it was more power.

But maybe not this much power. The C-HR’s 2.4-liter Toyota 2AZ-FE uses forged internals from Dezod and a DG-Spec Garrett turbo pushing 23 pounds of boost. They’ve also ripped out the CVT to replace it with a five-speed and added an OS Giken limited-slip differential — a mandatory upgrade since the car remains front-wheel drive. Additional performance parts include Brembo racing brakes with 14-inch rotors and a custom suspension that is likely spine-destroying levels of firm.

“The C-HR R-Tuned has been to the track every month since we started the project late last year,” said DG-Spec’s own Dan Gardner. “It’s probably been subjected to more real-world tests than just about any car built for SEMA. It’s not just a show concept but a track-worthy performance vehicle, and I can’t wait to see what people at SEMA and beyond think!”

I think yes, Dan. Despite this being a track-only vehicle designed specifically to bolster aftermarket attention, it’s good that it exists. It’s nice to see Toyota taking the C-HR to the limit. It’s exciting to hear that the R-Tuned bested production versions of the McLaren 650 S Spyder, Porsche 911 GT3, and Nissan GT-R NISMO at Willow Springs.

But this was a track car, after all. The Sienna R-Tuned (another car I’d like to see go on sale) was also a beast, but it was customized intentionally to be so.

Obviously, we’re not expecting Toyota to offer a stripped-out racer like this for sale. But maybe, just maybe, it will consider offering a toned-down version with rear seats and some headliner. You know, something that could give the Juke NISMO a serious run for its money.

[Images: Toyota]

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  • Kuman Kuman on Nov 03, 2017

    Im still waiting for mid/rear engined V6 1.200hp AWD sienna. The car should still be able to seat 5 person + 2 child seat.

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Nov 03, 2017

    What? No debate over whether the C-HR is a "crossover/CUV" like for the Niro (since it's not available with AWD)? Never quite understood the allure of CUVs with the sharply raking hatch/liftgate which takes away cargo space and the whole point of owning a CUV. Even more so than other small CUVs, the C-HR is a slightly lifted hatchback.

  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. https://insideevs.com/news/598046/toyota-global-leader-solid-state-batery-patents/Of course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
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