DALLAS — Toyota had high hopes for the stylish C-HR subcompact crossover when it joined the fast-growing segment last year, but the experience in the U.S. has shown that looks are only skin deep.
While the brand's first cute-ute has been a resounding hit in Europe and Japan, something got lost in translation when it was brought to North America, putting it at a disadvantage as competitors multiplied.
With Lexus showing off its new UX, a platform partner of the C-HR, at the Geneva auto show, the automaker will have another shot to get the entry-level crossover right for the key U.S. market, analysts said.
Not that the C-HR doesn't have potential, but sales have fallen short of expectations since the vehicle arrived last spring, and it's been a bit of an outlier for Toyota.
Toyota's other mainstream offerings generally sit in the sweet spot in their segments, with the Corolla, RAV4, Camry and Highlander generally in the top two slots, while the C-HR sits in seventh so far this year behind the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
Toyota expected the C-HR to quickly hit 5,000 sales a month, but it has fallen significantly short since its 2017 introduction. Better supply from the factory in Turkey and financial incentives pushed sales to a monthly best of 4,420 in February, and the segment has more room for growth.
"We're fine with where the C-HR is. We're pretty pleased," Bill Fay, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor North America, told Automotive News. Fay stressed that the C-HR is a brand-new model that has been out for less than a year. "We had to build up some awareness and purchase intention for a new model."