We reserved a compact sedan for our one week journey through the mountains. Originally the trip was planned for 4 people, with 2 drivers and 2 suitcases. By the time of the actual trip, however, our group shrunk to two drivers and one passenger, though still with two suitcases. When we got our car, I was glad that we had just three people.

Our car for a week was the Toyota C-HR XLE. Actually, it was a lucky coincidence, because my partner was considering it for purchase. I was trying to say gently that it is not the car for her. During our trip she came to the same conclusion without my help. Let's start!

The 2019 C-HR XLE comes equipped with a 2.0L inline engine (144 hp), CVT, front-wheel drive, and a few luxury features. It is a compact SUV, which had a pretty catchy design when it just got released a few years ago. At the same time, it is claustrophobically compact interior. The nickname for our car was "Claustrophobic Blueberry", because it was blue.

Like the majority of SUVs, it has better elevation than a sedan, but visibility is totally ruined by the window design - the driver can't see blind spots or what's going on behind the car, and as the cherry on the cake, the display is blocking the front view. The trunk was appreciated with my first comment when we found out the model of the rented car. It is not enough! Literally, two suitcases took the entire space. We had to flip those suitcases on their side to fit our groceries. Quick test showed that Elantra's trunk is much bigger - we inserted the same two suitcases into my car, when we got back.

Interior design is a test for drivers. First day, whilst Natty was driving, I was setting up cruise control, turning on the heater, controlling the radio and so on, because intuition wasn't enough to adjust the setting while driving. I will go through some specific buttons and switches a bit later. Sound and acoustics - as bad as in majority of American cars. I mean, it was terrible. We tried various combinations of settings, but it still sounded bad. Maybe it was not designed for music.

On the positive side, this car has adaptive cruise control! We had 100-250 km drives in one shot almost daily, so this feature was really great. But even here Toyota managed to make things weird. When the car was going downhill on cruise control, it had to slow down. At the same time, rpms were going up like crazy and the sound from the engine reminded us of an airplane before taking off. I even wanted to record it, however holding a cellphone while driving is forbidden in Canada.

Bluetooth was another confusion. It didn't allow to connect the devices directly, so during one the stops at the place where my phone had mobile data working, I connected it via USB. It prompted an installation of the Toyota Bluetooth app. I installed it, and the car happily announced that we may try connecting a new device to it. It did a search and connected... the child's tablet. It refused to find any other devices, including the one connected to the car via USB and having the app activated! So in the areas without radio we were listening to teenage playlist.

Space between driver's and passenger's seats is not very comfortable. First, putting something between may disable traction control; second, space is for one coffee mug ( and coffee mug's handle could press TC off); third, no flat area to put phone on charge.

My partner drove me nuts with putting bunch of junk between seats - she was charging her phone and camera's battery at the same time, had a coffee mug and a bottle of water, napkins, snacks, whatever. In my car maximum allowance is a bottle of water, a cable to charge a cellphone and a USB drive for music, nothing else. Especially if the design doesn't allow to secure the items safely and not distracting for driving. I have my bad habits, though, so I was trying not to complain (too much). It was not the most economic car. I have data for exact consumption numbers, but too lazy to put all of it together.

The car was tested on various terrain types and in all possible weather conditions except tsunami and extreme heat. The performance wasn't bad at all - we got back safely and without injuries, although all the fancy detectors and gizmos got disabled by snow and freezing rain when we got into the winter storm. The dashboard was flashing with the sign "clean the camera for safety feature activation", but we could not help the poor thing since the rental company didn't provide us with a brush.

In messy road conditions we realized that the rear camera is useless, though back on the first day we figured out that the back window is useless as well. Knowing my personal car's camera, I may suggest not to park or stand at the back of C-HR at winter, because if the driver is going to reverse, they won't see anything behind them.

Don't get me wrong, it is an OK car. It drives, it has blind spot detectors, a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, heater, A/C, even heated seats and lane assist. It auto-adjusts the head beams if a car is approaching it or it gets closer to the car in front of it. But it doesn't have anything to pay 24K USD for it. It's not catchy and not very comfortable.

So let's summarize.

Pluses:

- Compact SUV, could be good for city drive

- More or less good on gas

- Has automatically adjustable head beams and anti-glare rear mirror

- Interesting look

- All those features in the last paragraph

Minuses:

- Small inside, almost claustrophobic, not enough cargo space

- Bluetooth and ways to connect to it

- Dashboard design not for people with average intuition

- Visibility is very limited on the sides and at the back

- Sound. Sound is awful

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