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.
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.
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.
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.
A tight, sporty suspension means the CR-Z handles well, turning in easily and rotating in hard corners.
The tinted window under the hatch lip is not great for rear visibility, and the clear window above it is nearly horizontal.
As a hatchback, the CR-Z offers easily accessible and usable cargo space.
In lieu of rear seats, the CR-Z has this odd parcel shelf. Separated from the main cargo area, it makes for awkward storage.
There is a huge disparity between the driver's high-tech instrument panel and the navigation system, which uses older software.
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.
The CR-Z can be had with either Honda's excellent six-speed manual or this continuously variable transmission, which has seven virtual gears.
Honda's older navigation system uses low-resolution maps with jagged lines, doing nothing for the car's image.
Big gray blocks make up most of this car's cabin tech interface. It is usable, but ugly.
The Bluetooth phone system offers modern features, such as importing a paired phone's contact list and making it available on the screen.
The contact list interface is quirky, forcing users to search rather than merely peruse a list. The search function can be distracting.
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.
The USB port takes an iPod cable, and shows this interface for browsing a music library.
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.