By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid is a rather special car. In the great tradition of small Honda 2-seaters, the CR-Z hybrid offers a fun, fuel- efficient way to get around. The 2012 Honda CR-Z bristles with flashes of the legendary CRX, with a cozy cabin built for two and big hatchback that opens to a roomy cargo hold. But, unlike the gasoline-only CRX, the 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid relies on a hybrid gas/electric setup to achieve its miserly fuel consumption figures. As a commuter car, the CRX was very affordable, and its lightweight body and sporty suspension made it a blast to drive. The CR-Z hybrid isn't as lightweight as its predecessor, but it is fun to drive and is filled with a host of safety and electronic goodies the CRX never had. Also, the CR-Z is the only hybrid we know of that has a manual transmission. There are more efficient hybrids out there, and there are even some non-hybrid cars that can match the CR-Z's fuel consumption (think Hyundai Elantra and VW Golf TDI diesel), but if you're looking for that classic Honda styling and bulletproof reputation, or if you were once a CRX owner and just want a little taste of the past in a more modern form, the 2012 Honda CR-Z is a car worth getting to know.
If you're seeking a hybrid car that is fun to drive, doesn't look like a hybrid car and is filled with cool features, the 2012 Honda CR-Z is really the only game in town.
If you just want a fun-to-drive second car, the MINI Cooper or Mazda Miata MX-5 is a much better choice. If you sometimes need to carry more than one passenger, the CR-Z can't accommodate, and if you're solely in the hybrid market for the fuel economy, both the Insight and the Prius are more fuel efficient than the 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid.
The only significant change for the 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid is the addition of available black cloth seats on cars wearing Crystal Black Peal paint.
Driving Impressions If you owned a CRX and are expecting the same nimble, athletic performance in the CR-Z, you'll be sadly disappointed. However, The CR-Z is still a great car for long...drives as well as quick inner-city commutes. Acceleration is fairly strong, thanks in part to the electric motor's assist, which comes in the form of pure torque, and the CR-Z's handling and braking are light-years beyond any hybrid we've driven. With Honda's 3-mode system, the car can be set to an efficiency-friendly Econ mode, a balanced Normal mode or a responsive Sport mode allowing for a custom driving experience. Accelerator-pedal response is dampened and the steering feel is lighter in Econ mode, while Sport mode makes the steering feel tighter and acceleration quicker for a "sportier" drive.
The 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid's design is futuristic and aggressive, and we can only hope that it's a glimpse into what Honda has in store for products to come.
6-speed Manual Transmission
Although it comes with a fuel mileage penalty, we liked the crisp shifts and close ratios of the standard 6-speed transmission.
Where all hybrid cars have additional gauges and playful readouts that make them a bit more futuristic, the 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid's cockpit looks like something from a 3-D sci-fi movie. No need to worry, though, because in typical Honda style all of the CR-Z's controls are logically placed and easy to understand and operate. We particularly like the placement of the climate and Sport/Normal/Econ controls so close to the steering wheel. The radio is a bit of a reach; however, if you go with the available voice-activated navigation, you can just speak commands or activate the iPod integration controls from the steering wheel. Straight ahead are the glowing instruments that include an analog tachometer wrapped around a digital speedometer that changes its background color depending on the mode (Sport/Normal/Econ) selected. There is also a gauge to let you monitor the hybrid powertrain's activity and tell you how efficiently you are driving. As for comfort, the 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid's sport seats are nicely bolstered and very comfortable, but the shiny silver fabric covering them may not be to everyone's liking. Unfortunately, Honda does not offer a leather seat option, and only cars painted black can be outfitted with black cloth seats.
Some may see the 2012 Honda CR-Z as a coupe version of the Insight or the rebirth of the CRX, but however you look at it, the CR-Z is like nothing Honda has ever built before. Designed using a "one motion wedge" concept, the CR-Z is very un-hybrid looking, and actually appears a bit sinister. From its trapezoidal wide-mouth grille to its half-glass rear hatch, the CR-Z's exterior seems to flow in one, continuous line as though carved from a single steel billet.
The 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid has a standard 122-horsepower, 1.5-liter gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain and a 6-speed manual transmission. As for interior amenities, the base CR-Z is pleasantly well equipped with convenient features, including a 160-watt, 6-speaker audio system with auxiliary and USB inputs, steering wheel-mounted controls, automatic climate control, automatic headlights and remote keyless entry. Safety features include six airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA).
In addition to an available Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters, the 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid also offers a higher EX trim level that adds an upgraded 360-watt sound system with seven speakers, foglights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth, HID headlights, foot-well lights, alloy pedals, heated power mirrors and illuminated vanity mirrors. A navigation system is optional.
The gasoline/electric powertrain comprises a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine mated to a 10-kilowatt motor, combining to deliver 122 horsepower. This combination is the sixth iteration of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) technology since its debut in the original Honda Insight for the 2000 model year. While 122 horsepower might not sound like much, the broad torque band makes freeway passing and darting through intersections easy. One feature we did not care for was the auto-stop feature, which is a fuel-saving measure that turns off the engine at a complete stop, but also causes a slightly annoying hesitation upon restarting.
1.5-liter gasoline engine with Integrated Motor Assist
122 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
128 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000-1,750 rpm (manual); 123 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000-2,000 rpm (CVT)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/37 (manual), 35/39 (CVT)
By Aja on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, and great price."
Cons: "2-seater only, and low to the ground."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I purchased this car as a second vehicle. It seats 2, but has a very large hatch back storage area. It's has 3 driving functions that are easy to change: Normal, Economy and Sport. The ride is firm, the stance is low and the turnaround is very tight and small. Overall this car has been excellent for commuting and offered enough utility and fun in a nice, sporty package. The seats are comfortable and firmly supportive. The Dash is easy to read and the controls are easily understood, too. The return value however is a bit lower than expected, so I will be likely trading it in."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Rich on Sunday, December 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, fuel efficient, good price, good value."
Cons: "Rear view takes time to get used to. Harsh ride."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Nice looking, sporty vehicle with sports car handling. Overall fuel economy 41.5 mpg. Ride is a little harsh. Rear view via interior mirror is blocked by horizontal beam on hatchback. This is likely intended by design to block headlights from vehicles behind us. But it makes it hard to quickly see behind. Interior is modern and very sporty with focus on fuel efficiency. Range of fuel economy doesn't vary much. Low of about 38 in winter conditions, high 45 in suburban driving and about 40 on highway. Engine stops when we stop and restarts when the brake is released. Not hard to get used to that and it has never failed to restart."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Buildmorefarms. on Sunday, November 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, cheap on gas, good looking."
Cons: "Inside door trim scuffs very easily."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"After 9k miles owning this CR-Z base CVT, I feel it is time to share my thoughts. I would say the "expert" reviewers are somewhat off...this car is an under rated gem in many respects. It exceeds its mpg. I average 42-43 mpg in mixed driving each tank, and I sometimes drive aggressively. I wanted the 6 speed manual but there were none available at time of purchase. Even the CVT has plenty of power when the electric motor kicks in. Also the S+ button livens things up with an extra boost! I carry much work gear and it all fits easily. I use the cargo bins behind the seats to keep things from moving around when I take corners hard. This car handles well btw...not sports car great but sporty, more sporty that say a Civic. The battery in rear makes the weight distribution better and it feels more balanced. Stereo is good. Plenty of cubbies and nooks to put things. It could use an armrest. A/C is adequate not great. 2 areas where I am unhappy: the door panels scuff easily! I have to wipe them down with a damp cloth for the marks to go away. Also the driver side window rattles a bit like it doesnt seal 100%. Otherwise a fun car that turns heads and gets comments. It has been reliabel and cheapt to operate. Side note: resale is not good...it drops value fast. If I had to do it over I would get a 6 speed manual and the new sport package which ups the hp to 187! But overall a good and fun car so far."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Matt C on Friday, October 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very fun to drive"
Cons: "No back seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you drive the vehicle around town and keep it under 65mph the car can get 50+ mpg. I've tested it multiple times and the car is amazing when it comes to miles per gallon. It's a very comfy car and sporty."
9 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Energy on Sunday, September 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price for a very fuel efficient car."
Cons: "Road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had this vehicle nearly two years. Impressed with the performance- quite peppy, and the fuel economy which I check and record on every tank. Overall has been 41.5 mpg, including a harsh Michigan winter last year. It did fairly well in snow, too. The engine stops when the car stops and restarts when the brake is released. It was easy to get used to that and I no longer even notice it. It has never failed to restart. It is interesting to observe the operation of the hybrid system and to use that real-time information to adjust driving to get better fuel economy. It is a two-seat car and there is room behind the front seats for storage. They almost could have installed two small seats there. Back of that space folds down to provide a flat storage area. There is more road noise than I am used to, but even that seems to be less noticeable with time. Overall a good value and fun to drive."
11 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By ArnaldoFLL on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Is like a Future Car"
Cons: "Not as fast as the competition!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love my car, the only thing is the lack over extra power when is in Sport Mode. Fast, but not fast enough for the Sporty Car it is."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful