Much like the iconic Honda CRX that predates it by two decades, the Honda CR-Z attempts to blend fuel efficiency with fun-to-drive dynamics. This time around, Honda makes use of a hybrid powertrain to motivate this sporty-looking two-seater.
When it comes to acceleration and handling, the CR-Z is a far cry from being considered a sports car, but it's certainly livelier than the typical hybrid or economy car. On the whole, the Honda CR-Z represents a compromise between eco-friendly fuel consumption and everyday driving excitement. However, that compromise results in the CR-Z not really excelling in either category. Many competing non-hybrid subcompact cars offer similar efficiency and fun along with greater practicality, more features and higher refinement.
Current Honda CR-Z
The Honda CR-Z is offered in two trim levels: base and EX. The base model features alloy wheels, automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth and an audio system with USB/auxiliary audio jacks. The EX adds xenon headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors and a premium audio system. A voice-activated navigation system is optional on the EX. Other options include 17-inch wheels, performance tires and satellite radio.
Powering the Honda CR-Z is a hybrid system consisting of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor that is fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Maximum combined output is 130 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with shift paddles is optional (although torque is reduced to 123 lb-ft in this configuration). Fuel economy comes in at an EPA-estimated 34 mpg for the manual transmission model in combined city/highway miles, while the CVT ups that figure to 37 mpg.
Highlights for the CR-Z include its diminutive size, quick steering, customizable driving modes and sporty looks. The CR-Z's potential liability is ironically the source of its singular appeal, which is the lack of a rear seat. Honda instead has installed a pair of plastic cargo bins behind the seats, although they're rather difficult to access. The trunk divider can be folded flat to cover these bins, which increases cargo capacity to 25 cubic feet. The interior is handsomely designed, but the liberal use of hard plastics gives the cabin an entry-level feel. Poor rearward visibility and excessive road noise are also drawbacks.
Used Honda CR-Z Models
The CR-Z debuted for the 2011 model year. Prior to 2013, its hybrid powertrain produced 122 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, making it even less performance-oriented than it currently is. Fuel economy remains unchanged, however. These first two model years had slightly different styling and fewer standard features. For instance, Bluetooth could only be had on an EX.