Toyota refines compact crossover plans with C-HR

While the C-HR seen in Frankfurt is confirmed for the European market, it’s widely expected to come to the U.S. in late 2016 as a Scion.

FRANKFURT — Not wanting to miss out on one of the hottest trends in the industry, Toyota said it will jump into the compact crossover segment next year with a new model it’s tentatively calling the C-HR.

The Japanese automaker ventured into German territory at the Frankfurt Motor Show today to reveal an updated C-HR concept. Its debut comes roughly a year after an earlier C-HR was revealed at the Paris Motor Show in 2014.

The updated concept is one step closer to the production model headed to the Geneva Motor Show in March, Toyota said.

While the C-HR seen in Frankfurt is confirmed for the European market, it’s widely expected to come to the U.S. market in late 2016 under the Scion nameplate. This would make it the last of the three new vehicles Scion has promised dealers, behind the iA and iM that went on sale this month.

Though the C-HR seen in Frankfurt uses a hybrid drivetrain, once the vehicle comes stateside, it’s expected to use a naturally-aspirated gas engine paired with a CVT. Front-wheel-drive will be standard, while AWD should be optional.

Its compact size puts the C-HR (or whatever Scion will call it) below the RAV4 crossover in Toyota’s lineup, and squarely against other recent entrants like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, and Jeep Renegade.

Much like their larger counterparts, the subcompact crossover segment has ridden a wave of low gas prices to impressive sales increases. Through August, subcompact CUV sales are up 90 percent over the first eight months of 2014.

Consumers are also flocking to crossovers because they promise virtually the same fuel economy as subcompact cars but mix in a higher ride height and more cargo room.

The C-HR seen today rides on Toyota’s new TNGA modular platform, the same underpinnings as the 2016 Prius. Toyota’s fourth-generation hybrid hatchback was also on display in Frankfurt, where it made its auto show debut a week after Toyota revealed it in Las Vegas. The upcoming RAV4 Hybrid rounded out Toyota’s Frankfurt display.

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