The Honda CR-Z is not the most fuel-efficient hybrid, but it does bring a little more fun to a normally boring segment.
Ok so the Honda CR-Z hybrid has been out for a few years now and even though Honda enthusiasts were hoping for a CRX successor, it’s pretty clear the CR-Z is not a replacement for the fun little hatchback from the 1980’s. So what is it? This question was something that I constantly grappled with the whole time I had the keys to the CR-Z. It’s not as fuel efficient as a Prius, but it’s definitely more fun than the Civic Hybrid. But who would buy it?
When the CR-Z was released in 2010 there weren’t really any stylish hybrids available. If buyers wanted a small hybrid they could choose from models like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid – neither of which were very stylish nor fun. So of course it was a fresh idea and the CR-Z’s shape instantly recalled fond memories of the Honda CRX. But of course being a two seater automatically gives you a small pool of possible buyers to choose.
Today there are more fun hybrids on the market, but now the bigger problem for the CR-Z is that even with its hybrid powertrain, its fuel economy specs are lower than some compact models that just have a traditional four-cylinder engine. The CVT version is rated at 36/39 mpg, while the six-speed manual CR-Z is rated at 31/38 mpg. So why buy the CR-Z?
Again it wasn’t any easy answer, but the CR-Z does have some appeal to particular buyers. Basically if you live in a city like San Francisco with its tiny streets and even smaller parking spaces, the CR-Z works perfectly. It’s small footprint will make it a breeze to park and its far better to look at than the small Prius C. Commuters may also like it as a sportier option than a boring compact sedan.
The CR-Z is powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder and an electric motor, which generates a total 130 horsepower. 130 horsepower isn’t too exciting, but it’s available six-speed manual transmission actually makes it kinda fun to drive. At least way more fun than a CVT equipped hybrid. The CR-Z also does bring back a few memories of the CRX with its nimble handling. One interesting feature is the “S+” button on the steering wheel. If you’re traveling at least 20 mph and the battery level is at at least 50 percent, you can press the button to give your acceleration a little five second boost.
While the current CR-Z may only appeal to a select number of buyers, we can only hope that the next one is much, much better. Honda recently released the 2014 Accord Hybrid, which ditches Honda’s IMA hybrid system and in return has a 50 mpg rating, which is way better than the current CR-Z. Also there are rumors that the next CR-Z may borrow its platform from the hot Civic Type-R and have a much powerful hybrid powertrain with around 220 horsepower. Keep your fingers crossed!
Pros: Nimble handling, available manual transmission, boost mode adds a little fun
Cons: Two-seater is not for everyone, hybrid powertrain isn’t that fuel efficient
2013 Honda CR-Z EX 6-Speed Manual with Navigation
Base Price: $23,945
Price as Tested: $23,945