Trimming the Range: Toyota Adding Base LE Trim to C-HR

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2018 toyota c-hr

Like ‘em or not, compact crossovers are here to stay — and are in fact set to become the sole opening dish at the Blue Oval. Toyota has its own stable of mini-utes, including the alarmingly styled C-HR, a machine that currently sets an opening bid of $22,500 as its base sticker price.

Seeing potential opportunity to plumb a bit further into the market, it appears that Toyota is adding a cheaper model for 2019, one which explores the $20,000 price bracket.

Currently, the trucklet is offered to Americans in a brace of trims: the XLE and XLE Premium. The former starts at $22,500 while the snazzier model adds $1,850 for the priviledge of adding push-button start, blind spot monitoring, and a few other toys.

All current C-HR’s are equipped with features most customers could easily live without, such as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. Binning these features would bring an LE in line with entry level trims on other models in the Toyota family, while still leaving room for a budget CE should corporate overlords deem one necessary.

CarsDirect reports this new trim stickers at $20,945 sans destination, a price which puts it squarely in the wheelhouse of Honda’s HR-V in LX trim. A similarly sized front-drive Chevy Trax is listed for an even $21,000 before the inevitable cash allowance, which currently stands at $2,000. Ford’s EcoSport will hack your life for $19,995. There’s a $2,000 lease incentive on base EcoSports now, too.

At this point, I feel the need to point out that a base Focus stickers at $17,950, with an available $4,250 worth of lease incentives. That’s 25 percent off, folks. How sales staff at Ford dealers are going to flip entry-level customers to an EcoSport costing bags more Simoleons once all the small cars are gone is beyond me. It will be a tall order.

2018 Toyota C-HR, Image: Toyota

Bringing the C-HR to market with plenty of features was likely a shrewd decision by Toyota, as it set the table for customers’ initial exposure to them as something other than a stripped-out base model. The report goes on to say the XLE Premium will be rechristened the Limited, endowed with leather seats, and given a slight bump in price.

Since its appearance on dealer lots one year ago, the C-HR has quickly jumped to an average of about 4,000 units a month. Honda sold 7,322 HR-V’s in April. I’d tell you how many Chevy Trax crossovers left dealerships last month, but GM doesn’t deem us slovenly journalists worthy of such information anymore. They moved more than 8,000 of the things in March.

Worldwide, Toyota sold 8,964,394 vehicles last year, a number announced yesterday in its annual financial report. That’s roughly flat compared to 2016. Buried in the verbiage was an announcement from bossman Akio Toyoda that he has “decided to ‘redesign’ Toyota from a car-making company into a mobility company.” Oh dear.

The 2019 Toyota C-HR, and all its new trims, should show up on dealer lots later this year.

[Images: Toyota]