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