By on June 8, 2021

2018 Toyota C-HR front quarter

Believe it or not, there was once a time before every automaker had something resembling an SUV on their lot. Of course, that time faded with the Carter administration. Today, every mainstream brand boasts a variety of lifted wagons to grab at every possible sliver of the segment.

Arguably, Toyota was there at the beginning of the modern crossover with the 1995 RAV4 – pedants of course will bring up the beloved AMC Eagle, but that didn’t exactly light up the sales charts. The combo of wagon-like interior space with perceived capability has proven irresistible for a quarter century.

Toyota has gone back to the well once more with the Corolla Cross, which would be the eighth distinct crossover/SUV in the lineup. Keen observers will note the dimensional similarity to the oddly-styled C-HR. Do both need to be on the floorplan at the same time?

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

For perspective, let’s look at Toyota’s longtime rival Nissan. In 2010, the distinctly weird Juke appeared, bug-eyed and bulging with pocket-sized charisma. I was intrigued – but found the sloping roofline interfered with important things like my head. Anyhow, it sold reasonably well for a new niche, averaging nearly 38,000 sold per year in the US over the four years between 2011 and 2014 as you’ll see from the chart below.

Calendar Year Kicks Juke C-HR
2010 0 8,639 0
2011 0 35,886 0
2012 0 39,305 0
2013 0 38,157 0
2014 0 38,184 0
2015 0 27,121 0
2016 0 19,577 0
2017 0 10,157 25,755
2018 23,312 731 49,642
2019 58,193 11 48,930
2020 58,858 0 42,936

[Data from GoodCarBadCar.net and Nissan]

However, buyers (at least in the US) tired quickly of the Juke. Once the Kicks came around in 2018, sales nearly doubled – over 58,000 in both 2019 and 2020. Admittedly, there was little time where the two shared the same lot, but clearly buyers responded to the more conventional packaging of the Kicks.

Toyota could be in the same boat. The chart above shows the C-HR’s US sales topping out during the first full calendar year with 49,642 finding new homes. That’s a far cry from the class-leading subcompact crossovers.

corolla cross. Toyota

Regarding sales projections on the new Corolla Cross, I spoke with Nicky Hamila from Toyota PR, who tells me they project “around 100,000 units in 2022.” That 100k doubles the current C-HR volume, and vaults the Corolla Cross ahead of the Honda HR-V, and into the realm of the class leaders: Subaru CrossTrek at 119k, Jeep Compass at 108k, and Chevrolet Trax at 106k. A couple of those leaders show that general automotive excellence isn’t necessarily a requirement for success in the subcompact crossover segment.

Model Calendar 2020 Sales
Subaru CrossTrek 119,716
Jeep Compass 107,968
Chevrolet Trax 106,299
Honda HR-V 84,027
Hyundai Kona 76,253
Kia Soul 71,772
Jeep Renegade 62,847
Ford EcoSport 60,544
Nissan Kicks 58,858
Kia Seltos 46,280
Buick Encore 44,353
Toyota C-HR 42,936
Buick Encore GX 42,240
Mazda CX-30 38,064
Chevrolet TrailBlazer 34,292

[Data from GoodCarBadCar.net]

While we don’t know specifics about Corolla Cross pricing or how it will be positioned against the C-HR, we do know that all-wheel drive will finally be available in this segment from Toyota. The C-HR famously eschewed all-wheel traction, which may be a factor in the relatively-low market acceptance. While most drivers in most conditions will do just fine with front-wheel drive, the extra peace of mind from four driven wheels is compelling.

And the styling of the Corolla Cross is much more conservative and bland. Handsome, but bland. Clearly I’m not a fan of the C-HR’s styling. I appreciate unique design choices, but the C-HR seems to be funky for the sake of funky. To paraphrase George Clinton, while we need the funk – gotta have that funk – it’s time to turn this mother out and move on to the Corolla Cross.

[Lead image: © 2018 Chris Tonn. Inline images courtesy Nissan, Toyota]

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17 Comments on “Toyota C-HR Deathwatch: You’ve Got A Real Type Of Thing Goin’ Down...”


  • avatar
    Verbal

    No mention of the fact that the C-HR is slow. Like eighties slow. Yes, *that* slow.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    The CC will do well. It is what it is and that’s ok. On the other hand the numbers on that list reveal somewhat of a tragedy.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Came here looking for TTAC coverage of the Maverick launch. Come on editors, your missing the boat.

  • avatar
    smicallef427

    The Juke coexisted with the Cube for some of that time, but agree the conventional Kicks sells because it’s palatable enough.

    Jeez I feel bad for anyone that would buy the loser Trax or Ecosport. I can’t imagine anybody would actually admit to driving one of those. For the life of me I can’t see how any of these are better than some of the sedans they’ve replaced

  • avatar
    conundrum

    The CH-R monstrosity for some reason weighs 3300 lbs. Was one of the first Toyotas on the TNGA parts kit/Lego system, and C/D was the only outlet that mentioned its extreme porkiness for a FWD only subcompact hatchback on stilts. Add in the 144 hp old-timey 2.0l snoozer that powers it, and no wonder only retired schoolmarms with no sense of esthetics ever bought one. To wave at the madding crowd, one presumes.

    From C/D: “A mere 144 horsepower will have a rough go at propelling 3286 pounds, no matter what the transmission. Throw a brick at the accelerator pedal and the C-HR dawdles to 60 mph in 11 seconds flat and completes the quarter-mile in 18.4 seconds at 79 mph.”

    A 3286 lb subcompact! Toyota! Oh what a feeling!

    The CorollaCross will crush it in the marketplace.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Perhaps a youthful brand would lift C-HR sales.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Correct. Isn’t the C-HR a Scion off cast? It was ready to go when they pulled the plug on Scion so they rebadged just for the ROI. I don’t think mainstream Toyota really wanted it on the lot.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think you are referring to the IM, this was never Scion badged.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scion_(automobile)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_C-HR

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Pre-Covid, I had a C-HR for an extended rental. Average fuel economy, excessive noise, sub-par infotainment (kinda important for the age group they are aiming for), puny cargo area, and a CVT that was just better than the ones I’ve had with Nissans.

    And then I saw the Corolla Cross. Just when the new Ford Escape was about to win and accept the “Most Generic Shape On a Vehicle” award, Toyota rushes the stage, gasping for breath, and rips it away. At this point, and I never thought I’d think this, but I think I’d rather have more daring and polarizing crossover designs like the Juke than the drawn by a bored student in study hall design that the Toyota seems to be aiming for.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Very nice piece.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Wow a *lot* of subprime on that segment list.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Well the C-HR is ugly as sin making an Aztek blush.

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