2011 Honda CR-Z Photo

2011 Honda CR-Z - Review


2011 Honda CR-Z 3dr CVT EX w/Navi Angular Rear Exterior View

The 2011 Honda CR-Z is the smallest hybrid sold in the U.S. and the only two-seat sports coupe hybrid to boot. It’s meant to recall Honda’s much-loved CRX from the Eighties and Nineties, but with a modern twist.

But the demands of high fuel economy and hundreds of extra pounds of safety gear and features mean that the 2011 CR-Z is neither fish nor fowl. It’s nowhere near the 50-mpg ratings of the ur-hybrid 2011 Toyota Prius, but it’s also not nearly as sporty as the CRX was in its day—with its single airbag and far lighter weight.

The 2011 Honda CR-Z shares a platform and much of its running gear with the five-door hatchback 2011 Honda Insight, but it’s definitely more fun to drive. But its 122-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine has to haul around 2,600 pounds, including all the requisite modern safety equipment, multiple airbags, and lots of convenience features. That’s as much as an Insight, with fewer seats or interior space.

Honda gets points, however, for offering not only the usual continuously variable transmission (CVT) but also a slick-shifting six-speed manual—it’s the sole hybrid sold in the U.S. with a stick shift. We recommend it, as the CVT saps driving pleasure and makes the engine howl under heavy acceleration.

The CVT returns better gas mileage, though: EPA ratings of 35 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, for a combined 37 mpg. Choosing the six-speed stick cuts that down to 31 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and a not-very-impressive 34-mpg combined rating. For comparison, though you give up a fair amount of driving pleasure, the Insight is rated at 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, and 41 mpg combined.

There’s not a lot of direct two-seat competition for the CR-Z, unless you count next year’s 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe or the least expensive Mazda Miata convertible. But it’ll more face off against subcompacts like the Ford Fiesta, next year’s new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, and perhaps the boy-racer Scion tC. It may even have to compete, just as the Insight does, with Honda’s own, excellent Fit subcompact.

While the two seats offer decent space, there’s very little behind them, and the load bay is relatively shallow given the hardware and battery pack underneath. The instrument panel is the best among Honda’s various hybrids, with crisp colors and a two-level layout that separates the detailed displays (of energy flow and so forth) from basics like road speed, which are high up and closer o the driver’s natural field of vision.

The CRZ’s base price is under $20,000, though fully optioned versions can reach $24,000.

For more details, see the full review of the 2011 Honda CR-Z on our sister site, TheCarConnection.

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