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Sibling Rivalry: 2021 Toyota C-HR versus 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Between Toyota’s pair of small hatchbacks, which one better suits your needs?


Plenty of automakers have abandoned small and affordable cars for larger SUVs and trucks. Yet, for Canadian new vehicle buyers looking for a small and practical ride, Toyota offers its C-HR and Corolla Hatchback siblings.

The 2021 Toyota C-HR blends the dimensions of a sub-compact car with something approaching the ride height of an SUV. And it looks like it comes from the future—not necessarily the future of planet Earth. More expressive than rivals like the sleek Hyundai Kona or demure Honda HR-V, the C-HR won’t get lost in a crowded parking lot.

The 2021 Corolla Hatchback is an even more practical, sportier, and distinctive version of Toyota’s popular compact sedan. With its hatchback design, this version of the Corolla can carry more stuff, and it comes with the more powerful engine that’s optional in its sedan sibling.

Read on to find out which of these 5-passenger, front-wheel-drive Toyota hatchbacks is just right for you.

Price

The 2021 Toyota C-HR comes with a single powertrain, so the differences between its three trims are solely based on equipment levels. 

For example, the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of the base LE trim starts at $23,950 (all prices in Canadian dollars). Standard equipment is highlighted by a Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT), 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, and 17-inch steel wheels. The mid-line $26,550 XLE Premium adds a heated leather steering wheel and heated seats. The top-line $29,150 Limited includes Audio Plus (including Safety Connect and  Satellite Radio), LED headlamps and Adaptive Front Lighting System, leather seat surfaces, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback offers a choice of manual and automatic transmissions but fewer luxury features than its C-HR sibling. 

Prices start at $21,390 for the base 6MT trim with the 6-speed manual gearbox with Downshift Rev-Matching, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. CVT versions start at $22,390. There are several optional packages buyers can add no matter which gearbox they choose, from the  $2,110 SE package (blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels) to the $6,150 XSE Package (dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, wireless charging, 7-inch multi-information display, 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, and premium audio).

Both Toyotas come with the automaker's 3-year/60,000-kilometre factory warranty.

Winner: 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

 

Interior 

The interior design is less eye-catching than the outside of the 2021 Toyota C-HR, but that’s no bad thing. The quality of materials is somewhat upscale, and occupant comfort is perfectly acceptable for longer trips. For passengers in the back seats, the wide rear pillars mean leaning forward to get a good outside view. These pillars are also a convincing argument to select trim with blind-spot monitoring.

For an economy car, the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback’s interior feels upscale too. Soft-touch surfaces abound, enhanced by actual seam stitching and intelligently designed controls. Seat comfort is excellent, and there’s even available power lumbar for the driver. The large 8-inch touch screen sits prominently atop the centre dash and features hard buttons that make navigating the infotainment system’s various functions a bit easier.

While both small Toyota hatchbacks offer seats for 5 passengers, the C-HR offers a bit more passenger space overall and up to 1,031 litres behind its rear seats—371 more than what you’ll find in the Corolla Hatchback.

Winner: 2021 Toyota C-HR

 

Performance & Fuel Economy

The sole engine in the C-HR is a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder making 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque. The C-HR’s CVT sends this merely adequate muscle to the front wheels only, despite its faux-SUV styling. Combined city and highway fuel economy is estimated at 8.2 litres per 100 km (L/100 km).

A combination of less weight to haul around (1,388 kilograms versus 1,497) and more power means the Corolla Hatchback easily outperforms its heavier and less powerful C-HR sibling. Though sharing the same displacement, the Corolla Hatchback’s 4-cylinder makes 168 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Combined fuel economy estimates beat its C-HR sibling too: 7.6 L/100 km for the 6-speed manual and 6.7 for the CVT.

Winner: 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

 

Ride and Handling

Toyota has recommitted to building fun and exciting cars from the ground up, and both the 2021 C-HR and Corolla Hatchback are perfect examples.

There’s no kind way of saying this— the CH-R’s engine is underpowered. That’s doubly sad because the chassis is clearly talented enough to handle some extra muscle. There’s a combination of suppleness and control reminiscent of expensive European cars. It can take bends at the kind of pace that would induce boring understeer in a more run-of-the-mill rival.

Along with its more powerful engine, the Corolla Hatchback offers a taut suspension, precise steering, and quick-reacting brakes; all keep the promises made by the Hatchback’s aggressive styling. The standard 6-speed manual transmission with downshift-rev-matching is a joy, but some buyers may prefer the convenience of the CVT.

Winner: 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

 

Overall Winner: 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Despite sharing many engineering bits, the 2021 Toyota C-HR and Corolla Hatchback offer small hatchback buyers two distinct flavours.

If you are looking for a small-but-roomy hatchback with modern and aggressive SUV-like exterior styling and plenty of optional features, the 2021 Toyota C-HR is worth considering. 

That said, we think the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is the better Toyota small hatchback. It beats its sibling with a lower starting price, more power and better fuel economy, the choice of two transmissions, and a more fun-to-drive ride and handling experience.

 

Specs

2021 Toyota C-HR

2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Engine

2.0-litre I4

2.0-litre I4

Horsepower

144 hp @ 6,100 rpm

168 hp @ 6,600 rpm

Torque

139 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

151 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

Transmission(s)

Continuously Variable Automatic

6-speed manual

Continuously Variable Automatic

Fuel Economy

8.2 L/100 km (8.7 city, 7.5 hwy)

6MT 7.6 L/100 km (8.4 city, 6.7 hwy)

CVT  – 6.7 L/100 km (7.5 city, 5.8 hwy)

Warranty

3 years/60,000 kms

3 years/60,000 kms

Max Seating Capacity

5

5

Curb Weight

1,497 kg

1,388 kg

Wheelbase

2,642 mm

2,640 mm

Overall Length

4,352 mm

4,375 mm

Width

1,796 mm

1,790 mm

Height

1,565 mm

1,435 mm

Headroom, Front

968 mm

975 mm

Headroom, Rear

973 mm

955 mm

Legroom, Front

1,105 mm

1,067 mm

Legroom, Rear

805 mm

759 mm

Shoulder Room, Front

1,245 mm

1,369 mm

Shoulder Room, Rear

1,334 mm

1,156 mm

Cargo Volume

1,031 L

660 L

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