Why CVT makes the Toyota C-HR a dream to live with
That headline alone could make purists purse their lips and frown their brows. But the fact of the matter is that not all of us are aspiring race car drivers who want to learn to swap cogs and blip the throttle in the fastest possible time. The media hasn’t helped either with journalists often scoffing at CVT alternatives when given the choice between manual and Continuously Variable Transmission. Yes, CVT can be quite terrible and many manufacturers have gotten it very wrong. You know who you are.
Toyotas version isn’t the best on the market either, that honour goes to Honda. But that brings us to my next point. The yardstick used to measure what is a good CVT gearbox is not always correct, and I’ve been guilty of that too.
Why Hondas CVT is better
Hondas engineers have done a stellar job in engineering some of the slip out of the C-RV’s new gearbox. Making it seem more “DSG” than CVT. The public spoke and Honda listened. The problem is the public, and journalists were wrong.
Remember your first driving lesson on clutch control. How it was drilled into us how bad clutch slip was. And it is bad, nothing quite like the smell of burnt clutch to freak out your driving instructor. Like gunshots or cries for help, slipping clutches evoke a very specific reaction. But times have changed. In a CVT that means that the belts are working perfectly and that there is zero jerk between gear changes. The cones that hold the belts are simply passing the belt on so that the next “Gear” can seamlessly continue with the job of forward motion. CVT is generally more fuel efficient and in normal driving, it really is like cruising around in a single gear.
Performance nuts are shouting at their computer screens demanding I change my viewpoint. And for performance cars, CVT makes no sense… yet. The engine drones as the rpm needle hovers around the red line for what seems like forever. For high performance driving it’s predictably bad, but how many track days is a typical Toyota C-HR driver going to do. Probably zero.
With drivers spending an estimated average of 40 extra minutes on the roads due to congestion, every day, technologies like CVT and autonomous driving are starting to make more and more sense.
If you’re by the means to own two cars, the Toyota C-HR CVT might be for you. C-HR for traffic and a manual 86 for weekend blats. It’s what I would do.