Toyota blurs the line between the hatchback and subcompact SUV with its C-HR, but it fails to deliver the best qualities drivers expect from either class.

Concessions to the car’s edgy styling are dismal visibility and unusual—and awkward—high-mounted rear-door handles that are out of reach for small children. The C-HR doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, an option on many other small SUVs.

The engine and transmission are unobtrusive in everyday driving, but try to merge on a highway or climb a hill and the C-HR responds with an unpleasant whine and sluggish acceleration. It’s among the slowest vehicles in CR’s ratings, taking more than 11 seconds to reach 60 mph from rest. At least it gets a good 29 mpg overall.

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Handling is quite nimble, making the C-HR enjoyable when taking a corner. The taut ride is fine, but the wind noise at highway speeds is obnoxious.

The cabin makes a good impression. The controls are easy to use, and there are premium touches such as an electronic parking brake and automatic high beams. But the backup camera display in the rearview mirror seems like an afterthought.

There’s good legroom and headroom up front, but the XLE’s driver’s seat lacks adjustable back support. The rear seat is relatively roomy, but it feels a bit claustrophobic because of the small windows. The C-HR’s Overall Score gets a boost from its standard advanced safety systems.

Read the complete Toyota C-HR road test.

Toyota C-HR review

HIGH: Fuel economy, controls, standard advanced safety features
LOWS: Slow acceleration, wind noise, rear visibility, rear access, unsupportive driver’s seat
POWERTRAIN: 144-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; continuously variable transmission; front-wheel drive
FUEL: 29 mpg on regular gas
PRICE AS TESTED: $23,892

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the January 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.