2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise

2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise

The CR-Z from Honda was a bit of a surprise for me: A surprise it took Honda so long to come out with a modern version of its popular little car; a surprise it came out as a hybrid; and a surprise that I found myself a little disappointed by the whole thing.

As a modern CR-X, it has gained a bit of size and heft and as a hybrid it comes up a bit short on gas mileage. The new CR-Z gets worse fuel economy (highway and averaged) than quite a few gasoline-only cars currently in the Honda fleet and even gets bested by both Civic and Insight hybrid stable mates.

I am surprised CR-Z offers a manual gearbox in addition to the CVT, a transmission that allows the car to get roughly 10 percent better gas mileage. And I am surprised that Honda has already had to issue a recall for the manual-equipped CR-Z models to fix a software glitch that could allow the electric motor to spin the opposite direction your shifter choice.

The car is billed as a sporty hybrid coupe with aggressive styling and while I agree on the styling point the CR-Z would not make my list of favorite sports cars. Give me a “Z” over the CR-Z any day.

I always felt the first-generation Insight hybrid from Honda paid homage to the CR-X. The current Insight almost looks too much like a knock-off of the Prius. Since Honda’s real sport coupe S2000 was yanked off the line a couple of years ago perhaps the automaker should have concentrated its efforts there (like, say, an S3000).

2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise  2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise

The CR-Z uses Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology which I have not been such a big fan of. The constant start/stop of the gasoline engine is not silky smooth and I wish Honda engineers could give their hybrid vehicles more of an extended EV range.

If you get used the start/stop nature of the IMA system (and you better because quite a few automakers will be coming out with this in new vehicles in the near future as another way to tweak a few mileage points on our way to 2025) the CR-Z operates just fine on the road. Until you look in the rearview mirror and discover the traffic behind you hidden by a large bar splitting the rear glass in the hatch.

2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise  2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise  2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise

The new CR-Z features a great design by Honda and I hope it does not go away soon. Just put your heads together to solidify a couple Achilles heels like maybe offer a gas only option and reduce that rearward blind spot.

CR-Z is heavier than both the Civic Hybrid and the Insight but sports an extra 200cc of displacement in the gasoline engine for a bit more overall power so from the driver’s seat performance is a wash.

2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise  2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise  2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise  2011 Honda CR-Z Compact Sport Coupe Hybrid a Bit of a Surprise

The 2011 CR-Z EX model with NAVI that we tested came as loaded as one can get a CR-Z and rolls in at $23,310. For the record, fuel economy with the manual gearbox is 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway – better around town than most gas only vehicles but the 37 highway is beaten by more than a handful these days. In terms of environmental footprint the CR-Z is rated a perfect 10 for global warming score and near-perfect 9 for its smog score.

About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.