"Green Performance for a New Generation"
These days there are a lot of sporty coupes on the market and more than a few hybrids. But there's only one sporty hybrid coupe, and that's the 2012 Honda CR-Z.
Built on the same underpinnings as the Insight, Honda's small four-door hybrid, the CR-Z is powered by a hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a total output of 122 horsepower. A choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive round out the drivetrain details.
The two-seat 2012 Honda CR-Z comes in two trim levels: base and EX. Standard equipment on the base model includes 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, hill-start assist (manual transmission models only), cruise control, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a cargo cover, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, steering-wheel audio controls, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The EX adds automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, metallic interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker upgraded audio system. The EX can also be had with an optional navigation system that includes a touchscreen interface and voice controls. Notable dealer-installed options include 17-inch alloy wheels, performance tires and satellite radio.
The front-wheel-drive 2012 Honda CR-Z is powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid system that mates a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a total output of 122 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. With the optional CVT, comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
A three-mode drive selector allows the driver to choose from Sport, Normal or Econ modes. Each adjusts parameters for throttle sensitivity, steering assist, transmission programming (CVT), additional electric motor assist (manual transmission) and air-conditioning usage.
In an edmunds.com performance testing, a manual-equipped CR-Z went from zero to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds. With the CVT, its zero to 60 time is 9.2 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 31 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 35/39/37 mpg with the CVT.
The 2012 Honda CR-Z comes with standard safety features that include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints.
In Edmunds brake testing, it came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet -- a good distance among compact cars.
In government crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CR-Z its highest rating of "Good" in both its frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Honda has equipped the American version with a flip-down rear parcel shelf.
The CR-Z's rear cargo divider can easily be lowered to create a flat load floor and hide any items in the parcel shelf's bins. A multiposition cargo shade is also part of the deal. Maximum cargo capacity is 25.1 cubic feet, and two golf bags will fit easily with the divider lowered.
The interior's most notable feature is its space-age dash design, which is built around a large digital speedometer surrounded by an equally prominent analog tachometer. Adding a wow factor are background lights behind these gauges that change color to indicate driving style efficiency. A configurable display allows you to call up other useful information including instant and average fuel economy readings.
Though the 2012 Honda CR-Z is a fun little car to drive, with quick steering and a nimble feeling that comes from its short wheelbase and light weight.
Powertrain performance depends largely on which of the three drive modes you select. Punch the Sport button and the car gets up and goes, while the fuel mileage-maximizing Econ mode makes for better fuel economy. Both transmissions are winners, with the six-speed manual offering easy action and a nice mechanical feel, while the CVT still keeps the car sporty by virtue of its steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.