I spent seven days at the wheel of a Honda sporty CR-Z EX and walked away from it feeling the media missed the point. This is the only hybrid with a six-gearbox that will still give you a fun driving experience.
The CR-Z Is in a League of its Own. No matter how you look at it, the Honda CR-Z is a unique car I walk away from feeling it has been one of the most fun test drives I’ve had in a long time. Consider this, its a $20,000 two-seater, it’s the only performance hybrid I know of that is both easy on gasoline and fun to drive in traffic. Honda calls it a driver-focused vehicle and that says it all.
Unfortunately, the news media never really got it. It was mostly compared to the CR-X, something it just isn’t despite the family resemblance. This manual transmission hybrid, with its three driving modes, is fuel efficient, has predictably good Honda handling and is a fun daily commuter. It won’t leave you feeling bored when you need a little excitement. It’s funny to think of a performance hybrid, when most are slow, have so-so handling, and are more designed to save gasoline with nothing else to show. And anyway, how many hybrids do you know of that can be fun to drive, while economical and affordable? The Honda CR-Z does just that, and that is a niche market.And did I mention its price? It starts at $19,975.
The Only Performance Hybrid? The Honda CR-Z EX with Navigation I tried, courtesy of Honda is the only manual hybrid I know of, at least in the US. For a $20,000 daily commuter, it is easy on gasoline that offers plenty of driving pleasure. The interior is well executed for a car in this segment, with its red fabric door interior panels.
Innovative Honda CR-Z. The CR-Z was a pleasure to drive in traffic with its three drive modes, Econ, Normal and Sport. You can switch them on the fly, and they are conveniently located on the left side of the steering wheel. The dashboard is one of the best laid out I have seen in a modern car for a long time. Everything falls within your eyesight and is easily reachable. As far as driving, I enjoyed starting in Sport mode in aggressive city traffic, then roll to next red light in Econ mode and finally, use Normal when traffic starts to stabilize again. In other words, I never got bored with it.
The CR-Z Makes Sense. Despite its small size, the CR-Z Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. Its hill start brake hold function helps young drivers build up confidence driving a manual transmission. It won’t allow the car to roll back when starting uphill. The CR-Z is a perfect car for new drivers. Studies have shown young drivers get in trouble trying to impress a big group in a the car they drive and this two seater limits the amount of people they car haul around. It’s also the ideal every day commuter for those of us needing a little more driving fun in our traffic infested commutes. The CR-Z is aimed at households either without kids or kids having gone away.
Interior and Infotainment. The seats holds you comfortably and should accommodate most sizes. They recline far enough and fold forward to allow easy access to the back storage space. Everything feels close by but not claustrophobic. The interior is small yet feels roomy. The trunk space is big enough to allow reasonably sized suitcases for longer trips or your grocery shopping. Honda put a lot of thinking into the CR-Z. The bar in the middle of the rear windows neatly blocks bigger cars’ highlights driving at night.
All in all, the infotainment is one of the best I’ve found yet. It’s simple, easy to navigate and to learn. My iPhone connected easily and the voice command was helpful.
Tomorrow I’ll look at the technical aspect, how this car achieves an impressive EPA rating, and handling. You can read more on CarNewsCafe’s Honda CR-Z test drive tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the official CR-Z website.