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 IMA-GO on Friday, March 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "nimble handling, sporty looking, good mileage"
Cons: "rear visibility only saved by its backup camera"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The CR-Z falls between standard categories, so it doesn't rate high in most comparisons. It does fall into my category -- it rates really high with me. It looks good, with its low-drag Kamm-back design, and it's heaps of fun to drive."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Mish on Friday, March 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,960overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great on gas. good trunk space"
Cons: "no center console, bad rear vision"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I got this car for commuting purposes. I walked away from a Mazda RX8 to this. I love that it's still quick and fun when I want it to be but also gets me 35 mpgs. It looks very stylish (except for the wheels. Don't know what Honda was thinking about)and I got a lot of compliments. Now for the not so great... Since the engine stops when you're at a red light, so does your AC. Additionally, there's not center console so that's something you'll have to invest it. The blue-tooth only does phone calls and not music (you'll have to get an adapter for that). Besides a few annoyances, this car is awesome. The back folds down to give you a great cargo area so it's great for long trips and it has the power when you need it."
By Kathi on Sunday, March 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love the look, lots of storage, fun to drive"
Cons: "Too low to the ground"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"They are no longer making this car and that is a shame because it's has so much style, room and very economical"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Sammy on Sunday, January 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun drive, good value for the money. Typical Honda"
Cons: "No moonroof. Rear window pilar"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"a fun car to drive, a lot of pep. Very stylish body, good aerodynamics. Comfortable seats and good driving position. Instrument display,functions and location are excellent. Many extras as standard equipment. CVT is quiet and smooth."
19 people out of 40 found this review helpful
By tome on Friday, December 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, road handling and feel, design, personality, efficiency,"
Cons: "Deteriorating interior chrom trim. Cloth seats."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I'm the original owner and have owned this CRZ since Jan 2011. It is a 6 speed EX with premium sound. I have installed a slightly lowered sport suspension and premium wheels. The car rides very nice and tight (sporty). Although it rides a little closer to the ground, there are no problems, except with very steep road transitions. I'm very pleased with this little eco commuter. Returns decent (not great) gas milage in a sporty package. It is like no other car on the market IMO. It is a second car and work commuter for me, so space is a non issue. I agree rear view is a little limited, but acceptable. The interior EX chrome trim is not holding up very well. Other than that I have no other complaints to report."
15 people out of 26 found this review helpful
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."
16 people out of 26 found this review helpful