- Attractive styling
- Every techno-geek’s dream
- Hybrid drivetrain (if you’re into that)
- Doesn’t handle like the CRX & not as fuel-efficient as the Insight
- No rear seats
- Atrocious rear visibility
Ruling: If you sport a pocket protector and/or have a lifetime subscription to Popular Science, this is your whip.
Okay, let’s address the questions most people are asking about the CR-Z right away. No, it does not handle like the old CRX. No, its hybrid drivetrain isn’t as fuel efficient as the Insight. With that being said, it seems that Honda swung and missed completely on both counts, especially when you consider the less expensive Fit is just as fuel efficient and quicker, oh, and has double the cargo capacity.
But don’t write off the CR-Z just yet. Honda may have been mistaken trying to create a car that combines the most endearing handling features of the old CRX with the hybrid efficiency of the new Insight, but Honda has definitely nailed the interior and exterior design of the CR-Z. This machine is guaranteed to turn more heads than either the Mazda or the Ford, but be prepared to pay for it. The CR-Z starts at $19,950 and tops out at over $23K. Hey, technology ain’t cheap.
But what you get for that expense is a technological experience unlike any car in its class. The CR-Z’s interior is quite futuristic, its hybrid drivetrain features normal, econ and sport modes that challenge you to try and maximize fuel efficiency. An illuminated halo around the speedometer glows green for when you’re optimizing efficiency and turns blue when you’re wantonly wasting precious fuel. It turns even your most mundane daily commute into a fun little game. But don’t play this game on those sweltering 100+ degree days, because econ mode scales back the A/C function to optimize efficiency.
The CR-Z is the only car in this comparo with no rear seats, which can be a deal breaker for many consumers. But just like the original CRX, the CR-Z can pack away quite a bit of cargo in its rear hatch area. But perhaps the biggest downer of the CR-Z’s interior is the ridiculously poor rear window visibility. A horizontal bar runs directly across your field of vision, making for frustrating and potentially dangerous driving scenarios.
The CR-Z employs a 1.5L 115 hp gasoline engine with either a 6-speed manual (the only hybrid offering a manual) or a CVT. Sandwiched in between is a hybrid assist DC motor generating 13 hp from 84 little 1.2v nickel-metal hydride batteries for a combined output of 122 hp and 128 lb. ft. of torque. This drivetrain allows the CR-Z to do things other cars can’t – like drive 30 mph in sixth gear. Most cars would stall or lug horrifically, but the hybrid assist keeps the CR-Z rolling with no problems.
Because of the batteries, the CR-Z weighs in at a hefty 2650 pounds, resulting in a 9.6 second 0-60 time that’s one second slower than the old CRX. So you would assume then that the CR-Z more than makes up for it in fuel efficiency, right? Well, not really. Actually, the CR-Z is barely as fuel efficient as the original CRX, delivering 31 city/37 freeway with the manual and 35/39 with the CVT.
Despite the slower numbers, the CR-Z is still fun to drive. It’s not exhilarating like the old CRX or even the Mazda2 for that matter, but of the three cars, it strikes the best balance between sportiness and freeway refinement.
So the CR-Z is slower than a 20 year old CRX and less fuel efficient than its hybrid brother Insight, but it offers a completely unique driving experience. Make no mistake, the CR-Z will struggle to gain mass appeal, but for those techno-geeks who are looking for a fun-to-drive, two-seater hybrid with a six-speed manual, the CR-Z stands alone.
|MAZDA MAZDA2||FORD FIESTA||HONDA CR-Z|