The 2016 Honda HR-V Takes On the Gold Mine Hill [Video]

2016 Honda HR-V
The 2016 Honda HR-V on the Gold Mine Hill

The 2016 Honda HR-V was never intended to be a serious off-road vehicle, but like all SUVs, it promises a go-anywhere lifestyle. So how does Honda’s new cute-ute handle the Gold Mine Hill?

The Gold Mine Hill in Colorado has three challenging stages – a rocky mild incline, a sharp corner, and a steep hill. The HR-V is equipped with on-road, low rolling resistance tires that aren’t meant for off road trails. Part of this test includes a standing start around the sharp corner, which really tests the traction of the all wheel drive system.

2016 Honda HR-V off road

The HR-V is all new for 2016 and is based off of the new Fit platform, although it’s taller, longer and wider. It has the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine as the Civic and it puts out 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque.

Power goes to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission that has a sport mode and paddle shifters that move the transmission through seven pre-defined ratios.

The CVT may sap some fun out of the driving experience, even with the paddle shifters, but it helps the HR-V to a fuel economy rating of 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.

2016 Honda HR-V off road

The HR-V’s strength, like the Fit on which it is based, is interior packaging. There is plenty of room in the back for tall rear-seat passengers, even with taller front-seat passengers. It also shares the Fit’s Magic Seat system, that allows the seat cushions to be folded up for tall cargo and allows the seats to be folded completely flat for class-leading cargo space.

In TFL’s on-road test of the HR-V, the little SUV got a Buy It rating. So how does the fat Fit rank when Roman Mica takes it on the Gold Mine Hill challenge? Watch the full TFLcar video below to find out.

Counterpoint: In defense of the HR-V’s CVT

In the TFLcar review of the 2016 HR-V, the CVT model got a Buy It rating and the transmission was called “a good example of the breed.” Many car enthusiasts balk at CVTs, which is unfair, especially for good ones like the one in the little Honda crossover.

CVTs have matured since the early days and behave much more like “real” transmissions. Many are programmed with pre-defined ratios that make them feel exactly like a typical automatic. The HR-V’s transmission provides paddle shifters to move between those ratios, but never does so automatically. Despite this, the transmission rarely drones. It will drop revs once the car is accelerated to speed, and will “kick down” to a lower ratio quickly, as fast as any automatic, when extra power is needed.

There’s an elegant simplicity to a CVT that should appeal to fans of good engineering. Before discounting a vehicle because of those three dreaded letters, buyers should drive the car in a variety of situations and make their determinations from that. In the HR-V, the transmission gets out of the way during most situations. Most drivers probably wouldn’t even notice – or care – that it has a CVT instead of a planetary gearbox.

What do you think? Keep the conversation going in the comments below.