With the CR-Z, Honda tries to offer the first sporty hybrid, which would be a unique vehicle. But it does not entirely live up to its promise, with performance numbers that could have been achieved with a small, efficient gas engine.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
1
of 18

The exterior design of the CR-Z is unique and sharp-looking. Its big grille helps its sports car image, while the rear hatchback maintains a height near that of the roof.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
2
of 18

The CR-Z uses Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system, with an electric motor throwing in a little boost to help out the gas engine. Total horsepower is 122.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
3
of 18

A two-seater, the CR-Z requires some bending to get in. Once ensconced in the cabin, head and leg room is fine, but rear-quarter visibility is compromised by the sides.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
4
of 18

A tight, sporty suspension means the CR-Z handles well, turning in easily and rotating in hard corners.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
5
of 18

The tinted window under the hatch lip is not great for rear visibility, and the clear window above it is nearly horizontal.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
6
of 18

As a hatchback, the CR-Z offers easily accessible and usable cargo space.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
7
of 18

In lieu of rear seats, the CR-Z has this odd parcel shelf. Separated from the main cargo area, it makes for awkward storage.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
8
of 18

There is a huge disparity between the driver's high-tech instrument panel and the navigation system, which uses older software.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
9
of 18

The wheel offers sharp turn-in with the CR-Z, contributing to its fun character. The wheel is fitted with buttons for the audio system, voice command, and phone system.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
10
of 18

The CR-Z can be had with either Honda's excellent six-speed manual or this continuously variable transmission, which has seven virtual gears.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
11
of 18

Honda's older navigation system uses low-resolution maps with jagged lines, doing nothing for the car's image.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
12
of 18

Big gray blocks make up most of this car's cabin tech interface. It is usable, but ugly.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
13
of 18

The Bluetooth phone system offers modern features, such as importing a paired phone's contact list and making it available on the screen.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
14
of 18

The contact list interface is quirky, forcing users to search rather than merely peruse a list. The search function can be distracting.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
15
of 18

The CR-Z offers a number of audio sources, such as an MP3-compatible CD player, satellite radio, and USB. There is also a PC Card slot behind the LCD.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
16
of 18

The USB port takes an iPod cable, and shows this interface for browsing a music library.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
17
of 18

The audio system is one of the better features of the CR-Z's cabin tech, with six speakers, a subwoofer, and a 360-watt amp.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
18
of 18
Up Next

Six generations of the Ford Mustang (pictures)