The CRZ Honda’s fun little hybrid The Car Tech CNET Reviews

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The CR-Z: Honda’s fun little

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Honda may have come up the first fun hybrid car. The Prius. Camry. and Fusion are all practical hybrids, and Lexus a few comfortable cruisers. But the 2011 CR-Z made us want to fast.

We wanted to find the winding road around and the car through the corners.

Honda during our preview drive, a twisty route north of San we’ve previously used to the BMW M3. Porsche 911. and Audi R8. cars had it all over the CR-Z for and speed, but the plucky little showed its stuff in the turns.

also set out an autocross course so we really thrash the CR-Z, a that we haven’t previously a hybrid put through.

The CR-Z has its quirks. In other markets it is with 2+2 seating, but Honda the rear seats for the U.S. it as a two-seater. We assume Honda Americans are too fat to use the tiny rear

We’re not going to argue the

The CR-Z’s hatchback design it offers decent cargo in back; removing the rear adds an oddly formed area immediately behind the seats, the two spaces divided by the rear seat back

Old nav, good stick

Two stood out for us when we got into the We groaned a little when we saw the unit, Honda’s original launched with its first of navigation-equipped cars. Needless to this system is badly in of an update.

It looks very compared with the latest nav coming out from competitors.

At its top EX level, the Honda CR-Z can be had navigation.

(Credit: Wayne

Honda has fitted a Bluetooth system and iPod connector the cabin to round out the electronics. The system consisted of six speakers, a and a 360-watt amp. We didn’t get a lot of to listen to the stereo, but what we came through with clarity.

But we were also to see a six-speed manual shifter. six speed, similar to that in the Civic Si, is a good one. transmission makes the intent of the clear.

However, Honda said they expect 25 percent of CR-Z purchasers to opt for the transmission.

The other transmission available for the is continuously variable, like used in the Insight. After the manual version, we can’t see why would take the CVT. includes a hill start with the manual, making it in a hilly city like San

Our preview drive began in the by the Bay, and the car gave us three for its drive mode: Eco, and Sport. Setting out in Normal the CR-Z showed its hybrid at the first traffic light, down the engine as we stopped. On the we lifted off the brake, but the engine start.

We pushed the clutch in, and the still didn’t start. But the shifter into first, it does with a nice caused the engine to crank with enough power to get us as we let the clutch out.

A manual is a rarity in hybrids.


In fact, the manual transmission some fast starts off at the something the hybrid power was all too happy to do. The power train of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder i-VTEC mated to Honda’s Integrated Assist (IMA) system, a combined 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of With the CVT, shave 5 off that torque number.

Those numbers don’t like much, but the electric makes a lot of torque available for a satisfying launch.

On rough the ride quality suffered the car’s firm suspension, but the power steering seemed for precise handling. The CR-Z’s size made urban easy, letting us slip in cars from one lane to

Colorful instrument panel

The cluster, covered in a Christmas of colored lights for fuel information, included a green up indicating when we should Designed to optimize fuel it wanted us to change gears and often, putting the car in sixth at 40

Honda estimates its EPA numbers for the at 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway for the manual version. The CVT gets it up to 35 mpg city and 39 mpg So there is a reason for taking the CVT

Honda CR-V Hybrid

Our drive was too short and spirited to get a number. Honda says its was done in Normal drive so the Eco mode might run the mileage 40.

Switching the car into its Eco drive resulted in a slight slow as the throttle response retuned. It made a ring in the tachometer from blue to green, a indicator of the drive mode. to the Insight, that ring green when the car thought we driving in an environmentally responsible and blue when we floored it.

It is a conscience.

Getting the CR-Z the twisty roads north of San called for testing out the car’s mode. Beyond the start/stop the hybrid system never its head on our drive through the and the ensuing freeway. It remained in the background as we tossed the car through the on Highway 1.

The CR-Z is a uniquely car, the first really hybrid.

(Credit: Wayne

Ignoring the shift recommendations of the cluster, we kept close to gear, changing down to for the really tight turns and up to for longer straights. The CR-Z like an inexpensive little car. Honda says the Cooper is one of the CR-Z’s competitors; the has a slight edge in handling, but people will find the equally as fun.

The CR-Z showed its small weakness heading up the hills, the power train quickly steam. Going up a rise on the the CR-Z wouldn’t maintain 70 mph in gear, requiring a downshift to On steeper ascents on back we found ourselves putting the car in just to pull the hill.

trip ended up at a parking lot course, a series of cones tight turns and a slalom. we stopped the car, a monochrome to the right of the instrument cluster our Eco score, 5.5 little leaf Without any context, we decided it was a score, unlocking a virtual Eco badge in our mental video version of the car.

Honda the rear seats for the U.S. leaving this oddly cargo area.


The autocross course gave us a understanding of the CR-Z’s handling. In mode and running it through turns in first and second the electric power-steering proved ready for point-and-shoot operation. The tires, wrapped around alloy wheels, let the car slip a too much on this hot, day, causing more a couple cones to go airborne.

The handling, while good, just a little loose. seems to have tuned softness into the suspension to the CR-Z a comfortable everyday As such, suspension travel a little bit of lean in the corners.

The still can claim sports car but there are more tightly down cars available.

The Honda CR-Z goes on this fall. It will be in standard and EX trim levels, at ranging from less $20k to $24k. We drove an EX car with the optional six-speed transmission.

Honda CR-V Hybrid
HONDA CR-Z 1.5 i-VTEC Sport Manual 6-speed
HONDA CR-Z 1.5 i-VTEC Sport Manual 6-speed

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