Buyer’s Guide: Honda CR Z EX – A Sporty Hybrid with a Manual Transmission

A ride that looks good and makes you feel better about the environment

Honda-CRZ-300x232

2011 HONDA CR-Z EX

  • MSRP: $23,455 (Base price starts at $19,950)
  • Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine/122
  • Standard Fuel Mileage: 31-city/37-highway (manual transmission) and 35-city /39-highway (automatic transmission)
  • Highlights: 16-inch wheels; an automatic climate control; an AM/FM/CD/USB Audio System with six speakers; iPod connectivity; power windows, power door locks; remote entry
  • Competition: None

WHAT’S NEW:

After being phased out in the ’90s, the sporty, two-seater hatchback returns to the line up—this time as a hybrid. This is the first hybrid I’ve ever reviewed with a fun-to-drive six-speed manual transmission. Usually, most hybrids aren’t available with a manual transmission.

PROS:

The CR-Z is available in two trim levels: a base and an upgrade EX model. In addition to the standard features noted above on the base model, the CR-Z EX trim is equipped with a 6-speaker, 360-watt audio system, a subwoofer and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The EX trim is also available with a voice-activated navigation system.

Moreover, the CR-Z is available in three driving modes: sport, normal and economy. The CR-Z’s 3-D meter instrument panel highlights a color-coded system to reflect the driving mode. Red shows that the vehicle is being driven in Sport mode, while blue and green shows if the vehicle is being driven from efficient to less efficient in terms of gas mileage.

And for the car enthusiasts wanting a hybrid that can be tricked-out, the CR-Z is just the vehicle. Tuner enthusiasts will find that an optional 17-inch dealer installed wheel package can enhance the overall look and ride of the compact hatchback.

And, while the two-seater CR-Z may be lacking rear seats due to its compact size, Honda has opted to replace them with a hidden storage area that can accommodate such features as iPads, laptops or duffle bags.

Good things come in small packages (Source: Honda)

CONS:

Yes, this is a two-seater so don’t expect to accommodate more than that—unless it’s cargo. Furthermore, there are a few new four-cylinder non-hybrid compacts on the market, which are expected to produce better gas mileage than this hybrid. In fact, the soon to be released redesigned 2012 Honda Civic sedan is expected to achieve somewhere between 39 to 40 mpg on the highway, according to Honda officials. Not only will the redesigned Civic match (and possibly exceed) the CR-Z’s mileage, Honda’s most popular vehicle will also offer more interior room. And all of this will be available at a lower price point than the CR-Z. Go figure?

Furthermore, unlike the 2012 Civic and other hybrids, the CR-Z wasn’t designed with the intentions of having a sunroof. What a disappointment.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

For those looking for an environmentally friendly, fun-to-drive, affordable two-seater hybrid, Honda has finally filled that niche in the green movement. And if you’re not concerned about gas mileage, but looking to relive those days when the CRX existed in the ’80s and ’90s, the CR-Z should be high on the list. With the exception of this vehicle being a hybrid, it’s definitely a close replica of the cozy CRX.

Just wondering: should Honda consider offering a lower price version of this vehicle without the hybrid Integrated Motor Assist System (IMA)? The vehicle could be offered for less, producing the same gas mileage as the 2012 Honda Civic. Just a thought.

  • Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To price a new-vehicle or get the latest car-buying tips, drive on over to JeffCars.com.

 

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