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2015 Honda CR-Z

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2015 Honda CR-Z Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.1

When most people hear the word “hybrid” they don’t usually think “sporty,” “fun” or “fast.” But, that’s just what you’ll find behind the wheel of the 2015 Honda CR-Z 2-seat hybrid. Molded in the tradition of the classic CRX commuter car, the CR-Z modernizes the formula with a hybrid powertrain, a more substantial body and the latest in safety and infotainment equipment. Although the CR-Z can accommodate only two people, it offers plenty of room for long legs and a decent cargo area under its hatchback door. It’s also the only compact hybrid to offer the option of a 6-speed manual. Because the CR-Z doesn’t look or perform like a boring economy car, you can satisfy your need to be green without sacrificing your love of driving.

You'll Like This Car If...

Honda’s 2015 CR-X hybrid commuter car satisfies both your need to be environmentally friendly and your need to drive something that’s both fun and flashy.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 2015 Honda CR-Z can fit only two passengers, so you might want to reconsider it as an option if this is going to be your only car. You can find nearly as good fuel economy plus room for your friends in the Hyundai Veloster, Ford Focus or Mini Cooper.

What's New for 2015

Although the 2015 CR-Z remains unchanged from last year’s car, Honda’s HPD Street Performance division now offers the option of a dealer-installed supercharger kit. The kit will fit 2013 and 2014 models as well and bumps output to 197 horsepower, up from 130 horsepower in the stock car.

Driving the CR-Z
Driving Impressions

While the CR-Z is no Subaru BRZ, it is far more fun to drive than a Toyota Prius or Honda Insight....

... The hybrid setup and its electric-assist motor provide a big dose of low-end torque, helping the CR-Z to feel quicker than it really is, especially when jumping into traffic or merging on freeways. The suspension is more than adequate in the curves, but it’s definitely tuned to deliver comfort over aggressive maneuvers. When it comes to overall handling and braking, however, we’d put the CR-Z squarely in line with the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Scion tC. Honda’s 3-mode drive system allows the driver to choose among an efficient Econ mode, Normal or a responsive Sport mode that increases throttle response and steering effort. The CR-Z’s CVT transmission works just fine, but for our taste nothing beats Honda’s smooth and precise-shifting 6-speed manual.

PLUS SPORT SYSTEM
The 2015 Honda CR-Z hybrid features a cool Plus Sport button. Push it and the CR-Z gets a quick burst of power to assist when overtaking slower traffic or darting across intersections.

6-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION
The CR-Z’s 6-speed manual transmission is a novelty in this field. And while it many penalize you a few mpg, the fun it delivers is worth its weight in gold.

2015 Honda CR-Z Details
2015 Honda CR-Z photo Interior

Where all hybrid cars have additional gauges and playful readouts to make them appear more futuristic, the 2015 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. The sport seats are nicely bolstered and very comfortable, but Honda does not offer a leather seat option, and black is the only interior color scheme available on most models.

Exterior
2015 Honda CR-Z photo

Some may see the Honda’s 2015 CR-Z 2-seat commuter car 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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Unlike many of its compact-car rivals, the 2015 Honda CR-Z hybrid offers most of today’s must-have features as standard issue. Those include such niceties as a rearview 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.

Optional Equipment

As is the case with all Honda vehicles, most optional features available on the CR-Z for 2015 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.

Under the Hood

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 + 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)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/38 mpg (manual), 36/39 mpg (CVT)

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