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CR-Z Hybrid CRaZe

2011-honda-cr-z.jpgHonda CR-Z Puts the Fun in Hybrid Driving

The Honda CRZ is a compact hybrid electric vehicle designed to serve as a hybrid sports car. Specifically, with this car, Honda marries traditional sports car features with an electric/gasoline powertrain.

The two-seat car has a 1.5 liter, four cylinder engine that delivers 112 hp and Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric engine. And true to its sports car heritage, the CR-Z comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard gear (an optional continuously variable transmission is available).

With the manual transmission, the CR-Z has an EPA fuel economy rating of 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. However, like many other hybrids, the CR-Z offers different modes of driving including a sport mode that taps the electric motor to improve throttle response and make the electric power steering more responsive. An Econ mode optimizes use of the systems to maximize fuel economy. And a Normal mode offers the benefits of both balancing performance with fuel economy.

The Honda CR-Z has been in the making for several years. It was introduced as a concept car in October 2007 and displayed (as a concept car) last year. Earlier this year, Honda unveiled a production version at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The Honda CR-Z first went on sale in Japan earlier this year. It is expected to be available in North American soon. Three versions of the car will be available.

The CR-Z base model with manual transmission has a MSRP starting at $19,200, plus a destination and handling charge of $750.  Standard features on the CR-Z include an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry, cruise control, and more.

cr-z-interior.jpgFor those who want more features, the CR-Z EX adds a 360-watt AM/FM/CD high-power audio system with seven speakers, Bluetooth support, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. And the CR-Z EX is also available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition. MSRPs for the CR-Z EX and CR-Z EX with Navigation are $20,760 and $22,560, respectively. (Both models have a $750 destination charge.)

The car has been well received by reviewers. Wired said it “delivers much-needed excitement to eco-friendly driving” and it “doesn’t feel like a hybrid.”

The contributor-based online content network, the Examiner.com had a similar impression. “From the body motions to the steering to the hybrid/gas motor power relationship, everything about the 2011 Honda CR-Z is utterly fluid and totally unnoticeable. And that is a good thing in a hybrid because once the technology is unnoticeable you really know that you have got it working right.”

And Motor Trend noted that even though the CR-Z is essentially an economical commuter car, it is “more fun to drive and way cooler looking than most.”

By Jeff Carey

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