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2013 Honda CR-Z - Review

John Voelcker, thecarconnection.com, Senior editor Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm •  Published: January 19, 2013
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The 2013 Honda CR-Z is the sole two-seat hybrid hatchback coupe on the market. That seems to be a very small niche, one that may not find all that many buyers. Now in its third year, the CR-Z indeed hasn't lived up to the expectations raised by its launch.

The hope was that the CR-Z would combine the quick, agile handling of the classic CRX sports coupe with the extreme fuel efficiency of the first Insight hybrid, also a two-seat hatchback. Modern safety and feature requirements being what they are, the CR-Z did neither. It weighs 2,600 pounds--the CRX was 700 pounds lighter--and gets notably lower fuel economy ratings than the original (and slower) Insight.

Perhaps if Honda had called the car something different--Insight Coupe? Insight Sport?--there wouldn't have been quite so many expectations.

So the Honda CR-Z has ended up a subcompact, two-seat hatchback coupe that's zippy enough, but hardly the rollerskate that the CRX was 20 years ago. It delivers decent but not stellar gas mileage, at a combined 37 mpg (36 mpg city, 39 mpg highway) if you order it with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). You can also specify a six-speed manual gearbox, very rare for a hybrid, that makes it sportier to drive but knocks down the mileage to 34 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 38 mpg highway).

Under the skin, the 2013 CR-Z uses much of the same running gear as the Honda Insight, a hybrid subcompact hatchback. That car, launched in 2010, was updated two years later. The CR-Z, launched the next year, follows with its own updates for 2013, which include mild styling updates, interior upgrades, a more powerful electric motor, and a boost function for a burst of extra electric power. The powertrain upgrades come courtesy of a new lithium-ion battery pack, replacing the previous nickel-metal-hydride pack.

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