2013 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe: Quick Drive Report

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Honda launched the CR-Z hybrid coupe in 2010, aiming to defy the assertion that all hybrids are slow and boring.

It has to be said that as defiant acts go, the CR-Z hasn't been entirely successful. Gearhead circles have criticized its so-so performance, while hybrid fans decry its average economy ratings.

The 2013 CR-Z gets some changes to address those concerns, and we've had a week with a UK-specification Honda CR-Z to see if they work.

Equipment levels and styling may differ slightly between our UK car and those available in the U.S, but mechanically it's the same 1.5-liter, hybrid-assisted engine you'll find worldwide.

More power

Combined power from the engine and electric motor is 133-horsepower, 11 horses up on the old car. Officially, that's enough for a 9-second 0-62 mph sprint--around 7 tenths quicker than the previous model.

It still isn't a fast car, but feels peppy enough, and the little four-cylinder is as willing as ever. Hit sport mode, carried over from the previous model, and engine response is improved further, with an extra boost from the electric motor.

Even more boost is available if you press the new Plus Sport (S+) button on the steering wheel. When pressed, it gives you everything the electric motor's got for up to ten seconds, which is useful for freeway merging or overtaking.

A snappy manual gearshift and nimble handling also make the CR-Z a lot of fun to throw around, even if the ride feels a little firm sometimes. Refinement is good around town but some wind and tire noise does creep in at higher speeds.

Eco driving

Press the Eco mode button and things are a lot more relaxed.

Too relaxed, on occasion. We liked the engine's eagerness to shut down at lights (even if its criteria for doing so seemed to vary hugely--sometimes it would, sometimes it wouldn't), but we were less keen on the soft throttle response.

It can actually make pulling away quite difficult, particularly on inclines, and encourages a very relaxed getaway too. If you don't like other drivers welded to your rear bumper (and a tiny car with "Hybrid" on the trunk lid already encourages tailgaters) we'd suggest you leave it in "Normal", at least.

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Comments (17)
  1. I am really surprised at the seat issues. Of everything I've owned I rate the CR-Z seats #2, behind the OE Recaros in my STi. Unless they changed the seats from 2011 to 2013, or the UK seats are different? They are better than: 07 Fit, 99 Civic Si, Transit Connect that I've spent as much time in.
    Maybe you're too bony?

  2. Not particularly. Certainly less than I used to be!

    The padding of the seat base seems fine, as it wasn't my backside that caused problems - I *think* for me it's the lack of under-thigh support, though the lumbar support is also too high to support my lower back too. Specifically, it was my right leg and right lower back that suffered - and I wasn't sitting twisted, since the seat, pedals and wheel are all in-line.

    It's not just me - Green Car Reports editor John Voelcker suffered similar issues when reviewing the car back in 2010, and he's taller than I am.

    Wasn't for the want of trying, either. I've very rarely driven a car in which I'm completely unable to find a comfortable position.

  3. Comment disabled by moderators.

  4. @Rich: Weighing in here as the "previous experiences" Antony linked to. I'm a shade under 6'0" and my better half is 5'6", and both of us suffered identical backaches within 90 minutes of driving or sitting in the CR-Z seats. I've never had that happen in more than 100 different models tested over five years.

  5. Clearly John Broder has been sabotaging the seats...
    Seriously though, I was just a bit surprised, that's all.

  6. Do you have a list of comfortable eco cars you have driven or sat in? Comfort is an important criteria to me.

  7. @ Al - Good question. We don't have a definitive list, since comfort can vary from person to person. The CR-Z is one of the few vehicles we've had issues with here though, so generally you should find most eco cars relatively comfortable.

  8. Were those imperial gallons or US gallons in this UK CR-Z?

  9. U.S. gallons. For the absence of doubt, all economy figures on Green Car Reports will be quoted in U.S. gallons unless stated otherwise.

    For the record, the mixed use/highway figures in imperial gallons would be 45/50.

  10. I can't imagine the CRZ or Insight will be around too much longer at the rate they are selling. I look forward to seeing Honda's new hybrid system in the new 2015 Fit. Hopefully it will be competitive with the Prius in mpg's and a lot funner to drive. Maybe even look good too.

  11. Personally I find 34 MPG combined pretty lacklustre for a brand new 2013 hybrid.

  12. 34 combined isn't brilliant for a modern hybrid, you're right, though our test car did 37 combined, which is an improvement.

    Our 41 highway figure might be beatable too for those drivers in states with lower speed limits than the UK's 70 mph limit. Or states with warmer weather than the UK!

  13. Lifetime average of 47.1 in my 2011 CVT. About 50/50 city/hwy. The only time I see under 40 is on very short trips in the cold. Just working with the IMA system a little will make the numbers explode. And running at

  14. (Apparently you can't type the 'less than' symbol on here)

    ...running at less than 2000 RPM at 60 helps a lot. the 6MT has terrible gearing. They could have at least made 6th a long gear.

  15. It's good to hear your experiences, Rich. And you're right, 6th seems surprisingly short, considering the gearing in general is quite long - third gear is long enough to attain those new 85 mph Texas speed limits...

    I suspect it's another one of the CR-Z's trade-offs to placate both enthusiasts and green buyers.

  16. I have just bought one of these CRZ's for th eeconomy, an new job means 100mile trip in town traffic not a 45 trip on freeways, and love it so far, getting mid 30's not 14 of my SRT around the local roads, even in ECO mode i have no problems keeping up with local Houston traffic - do miss my old 425hp, but have not been caught short yet. My only gripe is the lack of route options on the sat nav but maybe its hidden in the options. Wanted soemthign completley different but comfortable as i have back problems and so far it has filled every thing i wanted

  17. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. With yourself and Rich's comments on comfort compared to our own, it does seem that it can vary hugely - definitely a "try before you buy" situation.

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