Honda may have come up with the first fun hybrid car. The Insight, Prius, Camry, and Fusion are all very practical hybrids, and Lexus makes a few comfortable cruisers. But the 2011 Honda CR-Z made us want to drive fast. We wanted to find the most winding road around and torture the car through the corners.
Honda obliged during our preview drive, prescribing a twisty route north of San Francisco we've previously used to test the BMW M3, Porsche 911, and Audi R8. Those cars had it all over the CR-Z for power and speed, but the plucky little CR-Z showed its stuff in the turns. Honda also set out an autocross course so we could really thrash the CR-Z, a test that we haven't previously seen a hybrid put through.
The CR-Z certainly has its quirks. In other markets it is produced with 2+2 seating, but Honda removed the rear seats for the U.S., launching it as a two-seater. We assume Honda thinks Americans are too fat to use the tiny rear seats. We're not going to argue the point.
The CR-Z's hatchback design means it offers decent cargo space in back; removing the rear seats adds an oddly formed cargo area immediately behind the front seats, the two spaces divided by the former rear seat back rest.
Old nav, good stick Two things stood out for us when we got into the car. We groaned a little when we saw the navigation unit, Honda's original system launched with its first generation of navigation-equipped cars. Needless to say, this system is badly in need of an update. It looks very rough compared with the latest nav units coming out from competitors.
Honda has fitted a Bluetooth phone system and iPod connector into the cabin to round out the electronics. The audio system consisted of six speakers, a subwoofer, and a 360-watt amp. We didn't get a lot of time to listen to the stereo, but what we heard came through with good clarity.
But we were also pleased to see a six-speed manual shifter. This six speed, similar to that used in the Civic Si, is a good one. This transmission makes the intent of the CR-Z clear. However, Honda representatives said they expect about 25 percent of CR-Z purchasers to opt for the manual transmission. … Read more