Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Driven: Honda CR-Z EX with Navigation

2011 Honda CR-Z - Subcompact Culture
I'm currently in Washington State for the Northwest Automotive Press Association's annual "Run to the Sun" press event. The event has a number of Northwest-based automotive journalists driving 24 new vehicles from the Kia Forte Koup to the Mercedes AMG SLS. On the smaller end of the spectrum, Honda brought it's new CR-Z sports hybrid, and I must say, I was more impressed than I thought I would be.

2011 Honda CR-Z interior - Subcompact Culture
The CR-Z is, thankfully, a small ride. No, it's not as small as the original CRX, but that's to be expected these days. It is a two seater, and the media vehicle was six-speed manual. The dashboard continues the space-aged, futuristic theme found on the Fit and Civic. The overall interior is attractive, user-friendly, and comfortable.

The CR-Z drives in one of three modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport. They're all pretty self explanatory in terms of what they do. I drove the car mostly in Sport mode, and it was more entertaining than I thought it would be. Rated at 122 hp, and not a bantam weight at 2,637 lbs, it is still was fun to drive the car. Fuel economy is rated at 31/37; lower than what most people would think of when they see "hybrid." (It should be noted that this rating was measured in Normal drive mode; Eco mode should yield more MPGs.) But this hybrid isn't solely about racking up the MPGs—it is also about a sporting personality and driving experience. This isn't a Prius or an Insight.

Driving the CR-Z is a bit like driving a low, two-seater Fit more than a CRX. It sounds the same as a Fit (as it should, since the gas engine is the same), and the slick-shifting six-speed is typical Honda: crisp and precise. You also don't notice the hybrid/gas changeovers. There is a good compromise between ride quality and handling, however, I did not get a chance to drive it too spiritedly through the corners. I also think the car looks better in person than in photos.

The CR-Z EX with navigation retails for $22,560; $650 more for the CVT (four more MPGs city, two more highway). The base model can be had for as little as $19,200.

No, this isn't a new CRX Si. It is, however, the company's first attempt at combining fun, hybrid, and value into one sporting-esque car. The first CRXs were't exactly the pinnacle of sporting front drivers, either then they first appeared.

But what will the public think: An economical, attractive, fun-to-drive gas/electric vehicle, or a tepid hybrid with a $20K+ pricetag and not-so-hybrid fuel economy?

Expect to see a full review on Subcompact Culture in the near future.

- Andy Lilienthal

2011 Honda CR-Z trunk - Subcompact Culture

1 comment:

nlpnt said...

Impressive, but I'm still hoping the six-speed and sport(ier) suspension find their way into the Insight. There's a limited market for FWD closed two-seaters, hybrid or not.