Who says hybrids can’t be fun?
Open the door of a base model Honda CR-Z, and you’ll notice something interesting in the footwell: three pedals. The CR-Z is the only hybrid car on the market with an available manual transmission. This coupe is not particularly powerful, with a combined 139 horses produced by its hybrid powertrain, but it has three separate driving modes — Econ, Normal, and Sport — to tune the hybrid’s electric assist and regenerative braking to maximize power delivery or conserve the most fuel, depending on the driver’s mood or driving style. The CR-Z’s handling is commendable and allows the driver to make the most of the relatively small amount of power underhood, especially when driving on twisty back roads. The hybrid system, with its instant-on torque, makes the manual transmission easy to use, with effortless launches and little need for highway downshifts. The CR-Z delivers good fuel economy: a combined 37 mpg with the optional continuously variable transmission. The CR-Z is somewhat compromised by its two-seat packaging and poor rearward visibility, but it is one of the most-fuel-efficient cars in its segment. Other competitors such as the Hyundai Veloster might offer more space and some other features, but the CR-Z provides good, clean fun at an appetizing price.
new for 2013
The CR-Z ditches its old nickel-metal hydride battery for 2013 and gains the Civic Hybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack. The CR-Z also gains an S+ (sport plus) button that increases electric motor boost for up to ten seconds under full throttle.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS, stability and traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Fun to drive
Only manual-transmission hybrid
Good fuel economy
Not a true CRX successor
Poor rearward visibility
Base Price Range: $20,500–$24,500 (est.)
TRIM LEVELS: CR-Z, EX
BODY STYLE: Coupe, 2-passenger
ENGINE: 1.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 122 hp, 123/128 lb-ft (139 hp net)
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: 49.1 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: N/A