By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
The 2013 Honda CR-Z is among the few hybrids on the market that does not require a shot of 5-Hour Energy before sliding behind the wheel. It may lack genuine sports car credentials, but the CR-Z remains a fun, affordable alternative to conventional hybrids. A spiritual successor to the celebrated Honda CRX, the 2013 CR-Z is a front-wheel-drive, 2-door hatchback with just two seats. But whereas the CRX used a lightweight, minimalist approach to deliver efficiency and entertainment, the CR-Z utilizes a more substantial platform to accommodate the extra componentry of a mild hybrid drivetrain. Of course, there are more fuel-efficient hybrids on the market, such as the Toyota Prius C and Honda's 5-door offering, the Insight, but thrifty car shoppers looking for a sporty urban runabout will find the 2013 CR-Z is a car worth getting to know.
Although the term "sporty hybrid" seems a bit oxymoronic, the 2013 Honda CR-Z is arguably the most fun-to-drive hybrid this side of the luxury category. Additionally, the CR-Z is currently the only hybrid available with a manual transmission.
The Honda CR-Z is unable to accommodate more than two occupants, making it a less than ideal option for anyone who needs a small car with real people moving capability (think Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Elantra). And if fuel economy is the principal requisite for your next vehicle, the Toyota Prius C offers a 50-mpg combined rating for about $1,000 less than the 2013 CR-Z.
The Honda CR-Z sees a number of revisions for the 2013 model year. Chief among them are a new lithium-ion battery pack, freshened front-end styling, a modest horsepower increase from 122 to 130, and an expanded list of standard features.
Driving Impressions If you owned a CRX and expect the same nimble, athletic performance out of the CR-Z, you'll be sadly disappointed. However, The CR-Z is still a great car for long...drives as well as short inner-city commutes. Acceleration is fairly strong, thanks in part to the electric motor's assist, which comes in the form of pure torque. Plus, handling and braking are light-years beyond any mainstream hybrid we've driven. With Honda's 3-mode drive system, drivers can select between an efficiency-friendly "Econ" mode, a balanced "Normal" mode or a responsive "Sport" mode. Accelerator-pedal response is dampened and the steering feel is lighter in Econ mode, while Sport mode increases steering effort and throttle response for a very un-hybrid-like driving experience.
PLUS SPORT SYSTEM
Similar to automotive video games of yore, the Sport Plus button found in the 2013 CR-Z primes the powertrain for a quick burst of power to assist with passing or merging moves.
6-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION
Although it comes with a slight penalty in fuel economy, we liked the crisp shifts and close gear ratios of the standard 6-speed transmission.
Where all hybrid cars have additional gauges and playful readouts to make them appear more futuristic, the 2013 Honda CR-Z hybrid's cockpit looks like something from a pseudo-sci-fi film. Worry not, though, for in typical Honda style all of the CR-Z's controls are logically placed and easy to operate. We particularly like the placement of the climate controls, which reside just to the right of the steering wheel. As for comfort, the 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 black is the only interior color scheme available on most models.
Some may see the 2013 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 built before. Designed using a "one motion wedge" concept, the CR-Z projects an unconventional image, 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.
Unlike many of its compact car rivals, the 2013 Honda CR-Z offers most of today's must-have features as standard issue. Those include such niceties as a rear backup camera with guidelines, Bluetooth connectivity, aluminum-alloy wheels, automatic climate control, and a multi-information display. Notable audio hardware consists of six speakers, a USB port for portable music players and a 160-watt receiver. All CR-Z hybrids protect occupants with six airbags, the usual helping of electronic stability controls, and active head restraints that help reduce the severity of whiplash-related injuries.
As is the case with all Honda products, most optional features available on the 2013 CR-Z can be acquired by stepping up to a higher trim level. Trading up from the base model to the EX trim lands you xenon headlights, which are up to three times brighter than traditional halogen systems, LED daytime running lights, and a 7-speaker premium audio system with a subwoofer. While its capabilities are comparatively outdated, a touch-screen navigation system with a basic text messaging function is available on EX models.
The gasoline/electric powertrain comprises a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine mated to a 15-kilowatt motor, combining to deliver 130 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 130 horsepower might not sound like much, the broad torque curve makes freeway passing and darting through intersections a breeze. 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 and often causes the vehicle to judder upon restarting. If you find a row-it-yourself gearbox unappealing, every CR-Z model can be fitted with a gearless continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
1.5-liter gasoline engine with Integrated Motor Assist (hybrid)
130 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
140 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000-2,000 rpm (manual); 127 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000-3,000 rpm (CVT automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/38 mpg (manual), 36/39 mpg (CVT automatic)
The 2013 Honda CR-Z has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $21,000. This figure reflects a $300 premium over the outgoing 2012 model, but we view the increased level of standard equipment, additional power and better fuel economy as a defensible rationale for the modest price hike. The majority of 5-door compact cars begin in the $17,000 range, while a comparably equipped Mini Cooper shares a similar starting price with the CR-Z. To see what others in your area are paying for the 2013 Honda CR-Z, take a peek at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price located at the bottom of this page. Down the road, we expect the resale value for the 2013 CR-Z to hold its own against competitors like the Hyundai Veloster, Mini Cooper and Toyota Prius C.
By Don on Friday, February 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of power. Fun to drive."
Cons: "Hard to see out the back!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I average 40 mpg. Can be noisy with the wrong tires. It is a blast to drive. lots of storage in the back. Use caution backing up and changing lanes."
By Kanela Kini on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "see above"
Cons: "It only holds two people."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is a one owner car. I"m the proverbial "little old lady from Pasadena". Has been well taken care with all of it's maintenance kept up. Gets 35 - 38 mpg in town and over 45 on the open road or freeway. Color is a beautiful Northstar Blue. New battery. Original upholstery has had seat covers over it from purchase date, so is in good condition. Loads of storage space. Easy and fun to drive."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By pal al on Monday, October 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "ok gas mileage"
Cons: "two many for space allowed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"the motor will stop at a light.poor rear vision.manual rear view mirror.very stiff ride. buy a seat cushion"
2 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By DRG on Monday, September 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great fuel economy; fun to drive"
Cons: "placement of heating/cooling vents"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had no problems driving my CRZ in the snow last winter. I also get over 40 mpg in the city w/ summer gas. It looks good and has a smooth drive. Even my 6 ft. husband enjoys driving my car (and fits in it as well). The only complaint I have about my car is the placement of the vents for the driver for heating and cooling."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By skilogan on Tuesday, September 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great MPG, Fun Handling, Good Looks, Fairly Priced"
Cons: "Sluggish Acceleration, Little Storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car with the sole purpose of using it to drive back and forth to work. Since purchasing, I have found to enjoy this little car so much that I drive it more often than any of my vehicles. I drive 85 miles (170 miles round trip) each day to work and average about 4,900 miles/month. I have tracked all of my fuel and overall associated costs for this car to see how I am doing. Since I bought this car, I have averaged 42mpg with the best tank being 46.7mpg and the worst tank being 32.6mpg. In the spreadsheet that I created to track all of my costs, I have determined that this car literally pays for itself when compared to the cost of driving my Toyota Tacoma over the same amount of mileage (to date, I have saved over $9k in fuel costs alone). This car is extremely economical, but still a fun little car that can handle some winding roads with ease. I would recommend this car to anyone looking for a cheap & fun little car, but not for anyone with intentions of using it as a family car."
19 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Kurt on Saturday, March 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty look, awesome gas mileage, fun to drive!"
Cons: "Bad rear visibilty, vent system, and seat comfort"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love this car in many ways! Fun to drive, lots of electronics, great engine/transmission, great mileage, sporty look, etc. The three driving mode buttons (ECON, NORMAL, and SPORT) allow for a variety of driving conditions. I am a "spirited" driver, so mileage is secondary to getting to where I want to go fast. On freeways I drive 80-90 mph with the cruise on nearly all the time. That would seem to blow away gas mileage but, in reality, I average 33 mpg overall. If I was a more careful driver driving 55-65, I would get 45+ mpg. Just different styles and goals. Interior is great. All the controls are easy to read and accessible, and there are different colored lights on the speedometer that reflect your current driving habit....very cool. Navigation is good with a large screen. Ventilation is good, however, there could be a better vent style that allows for more directional flow, i.e., towards the torso. The seat fabric is nice and somewhat comfortable, but on long trips the seat lacks comfort. Exterior is very good-looking. Design is sporty and clean, however, rear visibility through the back side of the hatch is awful as there is a support strip that blocks the best view. Very poor design for that. The headlights rock! Brightest halogen lights I've ever seen, and that's important in deer country. Some people complain about the lack of power in this car, but I drive my Honda CR-Z hard, and this car is up to the task. Engine and electric motor run flawlessly and the car is fun to drive. The three-mode change for the engine, coupled with an awesome CVT transmission, make for spirited driving if you want it. Overall, I give this car a two thumbs up."
14 people out of 15 found this review helpful