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)
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."
8 people out of 13 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."
2 people out of 5 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."
9 people out of 12 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