Vehicle Overview

The  CR-Z debuted last year and is Honda's third hybrid, joining the compact Civic Hybrid and Insight, which both seat five. Despite having just two seats, the small CR-Z has the lowest gas mileage of the three. The CR-Z is intended to be sportier, both in appearance and driving experience. It competes with small, efficient cars like the Mini Cooper.

New for 2012
CR-Zs painted Crystal Black Pearl can have optional black fabric seats. There are no other changes for 2012.

Exterior
The CR-Z has a broad stance and wedgelike profile. Inspired by the CRX two-seater sold in 1990 and '91, the CR-Z  shares that model's split liftgate window, an element that remains controversial in terms of style and driver visibility in the Insight and Toyota Prius.

At 160 inches long, the CR-Z is a few inches longer than a Mazda MX-5 Miata and the extended version of the Mini Cooper, the Clubman. Exterior features include:

  • Standard 16-inch alloy wheels; 17-inch alloys available
  • Standard LED taillights
  • Standard rear-window wiper
  • Available high-intensity-discharge headlamps
  • Available fog lights
  • Available heated side mirrors

Interior
The interior has a busy but effective design similar to that of the Insight, with cockpit-style driver-oriented controls and displays. Even the ventilation controls are on a pod near the driver; there's no conventional center control panel and the optional navigation system is slightly on the passenger side of the dashboard.

Storage bins behind the seats are separated from the cargo area by a bulkhead that can be folded forward to extend the cargo hatch's floor — similar to a folding seat's backrest. A retractable cargo cover is standard. Interior features include:

  • Power windows, locks and mirrors
  • Manual-adjustable bucket seats
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • CD stereo with MP3 jack and USB port
  • Available premium stereo with subwoofer
  • Available Bluetooth connectivity
  • Available leather-wrapped steering wheel

Under the Hood
Like other Honda hybrids, the CR-Z uses a relatively simple system that puts an electric motor in tandem with a gas engine, in this case a 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Though the engine shuts off when the car is stopped, it's always turning over when the car's in motion.

To suit the driver's needs, the CR-Z has Sport, Normal and Econ modes. Econ maximizes fuel economy, while Sport makes the acceleration more responsive and decreases the power-steering assist for a sportier feel. Mechanical features include:

  • Gas engine and motor combine to produce 122 horsepower
  • Standard six-speed manual transmission
  • Optional continuously variable automatic transmission

Safety
Standard safety features include:

  • Side-impact airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes
  • Electronic stability system with traction control
  • Active head restraints