Now that they’ve been on the market for a few years, Hybrids have gained a foothold in the automotive market because of their reliability and fuel economy, not to mention the tax rebates for going green. Obviously some of this market was created by climbing gas prices and tighter personal budgets. However, the complaint about Hybrids originated among some of the most die-hard car fanatics: Racing enthusiasts. To them, getting 40 Miles per Gallon is nice but not if that leads to crawling along the street in an underpowered, lightweight, average-looking glorified golf cart.
Honda has answered the critics with Honda’s introduction of the Honda CR-Z. Touted as the first Sport Hybrid on the market, this head-turning firecracker combines the excellent gas mileage of a hybrid with performance inspired by Honda’s Racing Legacy. Basically the CR-Z is S2000 meets Accord Hybrid.
This vehicle sips gas to the tune of 31 Miles per Gallon in the city and 37 MPG on the highway. The balance of economy and horsepower is controlled by a high-tech three-way switch that enables the driver to choose between Normal, Sport, and Econ driving modes. Switching between modes not only alters the behavior of the gas/electric drivetrain but also impacts steering response and accessory power usage.
The factory figure of 122 Horsepower doesn’t do the CR-Z justice because there is no way to describe the extra pep that the electric motor provides. Full power is available on demand with no engine lag weather on the highway or stopped at a red light making the acceleration of the CR-Z something to experience. It’s a hoot to drive, too; the Sport Hybird offers the choice of a six-speed short throw shifter or an automatic five-speed with race-inspired paddle shifters.
All Honda CR-Z come with automatic climate control with air-filtration, driver’s illuminated window switch, illuminated steering wheel-mounted MID and audio controls, door-pocket storage bins, rear window defroster, reclining seatbacks, rear cargo console, MP3/auxiliary input jack and multi-information display panel. On the outside the CR-Z has P195/55/16 86V all-season tires, fin-type roof-mounted antenna, body-colored, heated folding power side mirrors, rear window wiper/washer and projector-beam halogen headlights
The CR-Z is priced to move. The base CR-Z is only at $19,200 and the upgraded EX model begins at $20,760. Even with Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel and Shift Knob, HID Headlights, and the onboard navigation system a fully-equipped CR-Z is still less than $25,000 and that doesn’t even count the money you save at the gas pump.
The original Honda Insight 2-seat coupe, introduced in late 1999, broke new ground as the first gasoline-electric hybrid car sold in America. Aerodynamic and innovative, the Insight redefined the way the industry thought about fuel-efficient vehicles. The centerpiece of this groundbreaking car was the compact and efficient Integrated Motor Assist hybrid powertrain which served as a test bed for the next generation IMA Technology in the CR-Z.