2013 Honda CR-Z

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2011 Honda CR-Z — Flash Drive

This 2011 review is representative of model years 2011 to 2014.
By Staff of MSN Autos

I think the new Honda CR-Z is a funky concept, blending sportiness and fuel economy. The problem is that the CR-Z doesn't accomplish either of them very well. Honda made the first hybrid on the market, the original Insight, back in the late 1990s. While it was a monumental accomplishment in auto efficiency, it missed the mark with U.S. consumers; it was too small. The new CR-Z is a similar story. While I loved the 6-speed transmission and sporty suspension setup, it wasn't quick enough. And it achieved only slightly higher gas mileage — 40 mpg in mixed driving — than a much larger Honda Fit. Nevertheless, the Honda CR-Z was definitely fun to drive. It was far sportier than a Prius, anyway. But with only two seats and limited cargo room, this hybrid with autocross aspirations might appeal only to a few. –Joe Chulick

I didn't like the 2011 Honda CR-Z at all. It's the only manual-transmission hybrid I know of, and now that I've driven it, I know why. A manual transmission is not well-suited to any hybrid configuration, even this one. In Normal mode, the CR-Z is gutless and disappointing. In Eco mode, it is even slower, practically life-threatening on a freeway full of cars. The massive blind spots make the problem worse and guarantee you'll feel in danger most of the time, with no power on tap to help you change lanes safely. Plus, the CR-Z doesn't deliver good fuel economy — no better than a MINI and much worse than some other hybrids. Overall, the Honda CR-Z is just a poorly executed series of compromises. –Paul Hagger

The new CR-Z was a big surprise for me. Based on the specs, I didn't expect to be impressed. But I was pleasantly surprised — the little Honda is actually fun to drive, for a hybrid. There are three modes for driving: Eco, which didn't seem much good for anything besides going downhill; Sport, which sacrifices fuel economy to provide as much torque as possible all the time; and Normal, which is where I left the setting most of the time. The torque of the electric motor helps the CR-Z move quickly, and the manual transmission enhances the fun-to-drive nature of this car. The styling is a little dull, however, and the split rear window makes it difficult to see out the rear. I saw 30 mpg while pushing the little Honda pretty hard; when I backed off and drove more economically, I achieved more than 40 mpg. A number of small, sporty cars are on the market, but Honda has done a good job of combining fun and fuel efficiency in an economical package with the new CR-Z. –Perry Stern

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BB05 - 7/29/2014 7:55:24 AM