Much like the iconic Honda CRX of the 1980s that served as its inspiration, the Honda CR-Z attempted to blend fuel efficiency with fun-to-drive dynamics. The original CRX offered three distinct models — efficient, normal and quick — while the CR-Z emulated all of these versions with its three-mode hybrid drivetrain.
When it came to acceleration and handling, the CR-Z was a far cry from a sports car, but it was certainly livelier than the typical hybrid or economy car. On the whole, the Honda CR-Z represented a compromise between eco-friendly fuel consumption and everyday driving excitement. However, that compromise resulted in the CR-Z not really excelling in either category. Many competing non-hybrid subcompact cars offered similar efficiency and fun, along with greater practicality, more features and a higher degree of refinement.
Used Honda CR-Z Models
Honda produced the two-seat CR-Z from 2011 until 2016. Its hybrid powertrain was originally tuned for 122 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque (123 lb-ft for automatics). The CR-Z remained unchanged until 2013, when power was increased to 130 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque, though automatic-equipped models stayed at 123 lb-ft. Other changes included slightly revised styling and more standard equipment, including Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera. The next round of changes came in 2016, when the CR-Z got refreshed front and rear styling, a new 7-inch display for the stereo, and a blind-spot monitoring system. This would be the model's last year.
Power for the Honda CR-Z came from a hybrid system consisting of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Unusually for a hybrid, the CR-Z could be ordered with either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Fuel economy came in at an EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined rating for the manual-transmission model and 37 mpg for the CVT-equipped model.
The CR-Z was available in three trim levels, LX, EX and EX Navi. Base models were well-equipped, with alloy wheels, automatic climate control and power accessories, while 2013-and-later models added Bluetooth and a rearview camera. Prior to 2013, Bluetooth was a feature of the EX model, along with upgraded trim, a premium audio system, foglights and a few other goodies. Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot camera was added on 2016 EX models. The EX Navi model originally added just a navigation system, but in 2016 the package was renamed EX-L Navi and expanded to include heated leather seats and HD radio.
Highlights of the CR-Z included its diminutive size, quick steering, customizable driving modes and sporty looks. Its biggest potential liability was, ironically, the feature that set it apart from other cars: the lack of a back seat. In its place, Honda installed a pair of plastic cargo bins behind the front seats, though they were difficult to access. A trunk divider could be folded flat to cover them, increasing cargo capacity to 25 cubic feet. The interior was handsomely designed, but liberal use of hard plastics gave the cabin an entry-level feel. Other drawbacks included poor rearward visibility and excessive road noise.