Worthy. Dependable. Honest. Respectable. All adjectives that could be used to describe most of the Toyota range in the early-to-mid 2010s.  But then, in a transformation akin to grandad donning a shell suit, the brand ditched dull and allowed its designers to come up with the Toyota C-HR.

This Toyota made you think: “I want that in my life!” And so long as you don’t expect it to tow a large, heavy trailer, it makes for a fair tow car, but one with compromises.

What’s it like inside?

Given the show-stopping exterior, it would be easy to be disappointed by the interior, which is more conventional. But here, ‘conventional’ translates to ‘usable’.

Up front there’s good space for a couple of adults, and some handy cubbies. It’s very easy to find your way around, and Toyota has been wise enough to keep the climate controls separate from the touchscreen. This touchscreen is okay, but others are sharper and more responsive.

The climate controls on the dashboard have been positioned away from the touchscreen
The climate controls on the dashboard have been positioned away from the touchscreen

In the back seats, space is adequate if you have young children, but adults will find their heads rubbing the lining, and legroom isn’t huge. You’ll find it dark, too, because the rear windows are small.

Luggage space is perfectly reasonable, but it’s a shame that there’s quite a lip to lift items over, and the rear seats don’t sit flat when folded. Still, the C-HR is really well equipped, with even entry-level models featuring dual-zone climate control, automatic lights with automatic full beam, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist and a DAB radio.

Moving up the levels brings luxuries such as heated seats, part-leather trim, keyless entry and rear cross-traffic alert.

How does a used Toyota C-HR drive?

Early in its life, the C-HR provided either a 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain or a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine. If you plan to tow a caravan, we’d advise the 1.2, which has a significantly higher towing limit (up to 1300kg) than the hybrid’s 725kg. However, Toyota dropped the 1.2 in 2019, and replaced it with a 2.0-litre hybrid that has the same 725kg towing limit as the 1.8.

When towing, the C-HR is stable and only starts to wander slightly as you get up to the legal limit. Either powertrain copes well with hill starts, but the hybrid can be noisy if you attempt to accelerate briskly, because the transmission causes the engine to rev hard. The steering is neat and quick, and while the ride is a fraction firm, it never gets uncomfortable.

Economy definitely favours the hybrid, which is at its best in town, where it can use its electric motor more of the time.


So long as you have only a small caravan or trailer tent, the Toyota C-HR is a reasonable tow car that feels good both inside and out, because it’s beautifully built. However, if you have children, we’d advise making sure they’ll be happy in the rear, because it can feel a little bit tight and claustrophobic back there.

After more towing vehicle inspiration? Then be sure to take a look at our best used tow car round-up.

What will it tow?

  • Kerbweight: 1395kg
  • Towing limit: 1300kg
  • Noseweight limit: 70kg
  • 85% match: 1185kg
  • Figures for 2019 C-HR 1.2T Icon

Running costs

  • 1.2T Icon
  • Insurance group: 15
  • Annual VED: £155
  • Average economy: 51.4mpg
  • Interim/full service: £96/£130
  • Servicing prices supplied by Servicing Stop, 0844 324 5262

Trouble spots

As you’d expect of a Toyota, the C-HR is a reliable companion, but it hasn’t been completely immune from recalls. Almost 4000 vehicles were recalled because of incorrectly fitted trim that could have impeded the side airbags.

Then 5440 cars were recalled to have a new fuel pump fitted.

Incorrectly tightened rear axle hub bolts were the cause of another recall. A full list of recalls can be found at www.check-vehicle-recalls.service.gov.uk.

What to pay for a used Toyota C-HR

  • High: Price: £32,000; Model: 2020 1.8 hybrid Dynamic; Miles: 8200
  • Sweet spot: Price: £21,700; Model: 2019 1.2T Excel; Miles: 11,000
  • Low: Price: £14,200; Model: 2016 1.2T Icon; Miles: 63,000

Or you could try…

Seat Ateca

The Seat Ateca is an SUV aimed squarely at young(ish) families who like to get out and about. It may not look as futuristic as the Toyota C-HR, but it hits back by being much roomier and more practical, so you can carry more activity and sports gear with you, traits that saw it included on our best tow car round-up.

There’s a wide variety of engines to choose from, and they’re all good, although the larger diesel will suit best for those who regularly tow.


The BMW X2
The BMW X2

If we view the Toyota C-HR as an SUV with funky looks as its USP, we should skip BMW’s practical X1 and go straight to the stylish X2. This offers a great driving experience
and frugal powertrains, along with a beautifully built interior that will make you feel good every time you get into it.

The X2 is also available with four-wheel drive, making it a bit more adept on slippery campsite surfaces.

Peugeot 3008

The Peugeot 3008
The Peugeot 3008

Peugeot really got its design mojo back in the past decade, and the 3008 is a prime example. It looks classy and alluring, and the interior is attractive and well built. It’s roomy, too, so will easily take your family and its luggage.

Dual-zone climate control, DAB radio and rear parking sensors are standard, and all powertrains are powerful. There are even a couple of plug-in hybrids to tow with.

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