2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Review

MPG-o-Matic 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Review Summary: Though purists may be hard-pressed to call it a true sports car, the two-seat Honda CR-Z is the sportiest hybrid to hit the road in 2011. With a heritage that includes the Honda CR-X Si pocket rocket and ground-breaking Insight hybrid, the CR-Z has a twisty path to follow. While it’s not as fast as the CR-X Si nor as remarkably fuel-efficient as the original Insight, the CR-Z hybrid is an entertaining ride when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. If you like to run through the gears and must have a hybrid, the CR-Z is the only game in town.

The front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid is equipped with a 1.5-liter 16-valve SOHC i-VTEC inline four cylinder engine producing 122 horsepower (HP) and 128 foot pounds of torque when mated to the six-speed manual transmission. The Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system’s electric motor/generator adds another 13 HP and 58 foot pounds of torque. While a paddle shifter-equipped continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available, it’s the stick shift that makes the CR-Z unique among hybrids. (The torque rating is slightly lower for the CVT-equipped CR-Z, at 123 foot pounds.)

The Nickel Metal Hydride (Mi-MH) battery pack is rated has an output of 100.8 volts and a rated capacity of 5.75 Ah.

The official fuel economy estimates for the 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid are 35 city / 39 highway miles per gallon (MPG) when equipped with the CVT and 31 city / 37 highway with the six-speed manual.

We traveled approximately 400 miles in our manual-equipped Crystal Black Pearl CR-Z EX review unit and were able to beat the official mileage estimates, achieving an average of 41.1 MPG on the Interstate highway and 35.7 MPG combined while driving (primarily) in Normal mode. Temperatures ranged from the low-thirties through the high-fifties. Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the high-thirties. The test vehicle was delivered with under 3000 miles on the odometer.

The 2011 CR-Z Hybrid is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels. Our CR-Z EX test unit was clad with all-season P195/55R16 Dunlop SP Sport 7000 tires. 17-inch alloys with P205/45R17 performance tires are available.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 39.9 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 42.4 MPG

The CR-Z’s excellent six-speed manual shifter allows you to get the most out of the hybrid drivetrain.

Highway driving range is good. The CR-Z Hybrid is fitted with a 10.6 gallon fuel tank, and is designed to run regular unleaded fuel.

Compare the CR-Z Hybrid to the original CR-X, and the power-to-weight issue is clear. The original fuel economy focused CR-X HF got by with a puny sixty or so HP, while the 1985-87 CR-X Si crossed the scales at just under 2,000 pounds (with the model adding an additional 10% by the end of the run in 1991). The HF weighed in at just over 1,700 pounds. The 2011 CR-Z Hybrid’s drivetrain, batteries, and safety features add up to a considerable amount of weight.

Curb Weight:

  • Base: 2637 pounds (manual ) / 2690 pounds (CVT)
  • EX: 2650 pounds (manual) / 2703 pounds (CVT)
  • EX with Navigation: 2654 pounds (manual) / 2707 pounds (CVT)

The CR-Z Hybrid is equipped with anti-lock (ABS) brakes and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control.

A three-mode drive system allows you to configure the CR-Z’s personality. The innovative fuel-efficiency display (also seen on the Insight) switches from blues (under acceleration) and greens (when driving efficiently) in Normal and Econ modes to bright red in Sport mode. Switching to Sport mode delivers a more responsive throttle and tighter steering. We spent the bulk of our time in Normal mode. Econ mode is intended for heavy traffic situations.

While the CR-Z is fun to zip about in, you won’t be challenging the lap times of true sports car.

Like other Honda hybrids, the CR-Z cannot accelerate on electric power alone. The Integrated Motor Assist system combines alternator and starter functions, delivers stop/start capability and regenerative braking, as well as providing the additional oomph.

The dashboard’s Multi-Information Display (MID) gives light-footed drivers the tools they need to squeak the most miles out of every gallon, with a real-time MPG gauge and nifty charting in addition to the glowing speedometer.

The CR-Z’s interior is space-age dramatic, bordering on spartan. Silver mesh upholstery is the sole choice. Leather surfaces are not available, nor are heated seats or lumbar support

The EX model features a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated controls and hands-free Bluetooth, along with polished interior accents, aluminum pedals and shift knob.

There’s one twelve-volt outlet, located at the base of the dash, where you’ll also find the USB iPod and auxiliary audio inputs. The EX features a 360-Watt Premium Audio System with 7 Speakers including a Subwoofer. The navigation package includes voice recognition.

The cargo area allows for 25.1 cubic feet of storage. There’s an interesting fold down shelf behind the front seats that looks suspiciously like a second row – but isn’t, at least not here in America.

All-in-all, the 2011 CR-Z Hybrid is hoot to drive. It isn’t lightning fast. It doesn’t corner like a slot car. And it only delivers good, not great gas mileage. But if you like to run through the gears and must have a hybrid, the CR-Z is the only game in town. There’s little doubt that future CR-Zs will fix the current model’s shortcomings for those with more sporting intentions.

Parts Content Information:
U.S./Canadian Parts Content: 0%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content:
Japan 95%
Final Assembly Point:
Suzuka, MIE, Japan
Engine: Japan
Transmission: Japan

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6 thoughts on “2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Review”

  1. I would appreciate it is Honda would make a low-technology car like the old HX version. In other words, some of us long-distance commuters need an inexpensive, easy to maintain car that does not cost too much. We’d really like something like the early Geo Metros. I own two Metros. They get better gas mileage than these high tech hybrids and unlike the hybrids, you do not need a PhD. in EE to maintain them when they get old and have more than a quarter million miles on them. So Please, Please someone listen to what we want. Something like a 1990 Geo Metro, but perhaps made from aluminum, and perhaps with a simple, non-turbocharged diesel engine. That way, a 2012 version might get 70 mpg and be profitable at a sale price of around $12K.

  2. Fred. I have read rumors that Honda will have an HF model with the next civic @ carscoop.com. Hope this is true. Honda fans expect more from honda. And the competition is starting to turn up the heat.

  3. I find it pretty absurd that the est. MPG on this “hybrid” are worse than the MPG of the non-hybrid 1984 model! How ridiculous is that? How long will America and the rest of the world allow Car Companies and oil companies to shaft us?

  4. @Neutron – The MPG shortcoming is largely due to the difference in weight between the models. The manual 2011 CR-Z EX with Nav weighs 2654 lbs. while the ’84 CR-X HF tipped the scales at around 1700 lbs. That’s huge. Blame it on the airbags etc …

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