2013 Honda CR-Z Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Honda CR-Z was new.


Performance: 7.4

While it’s not a dynamic performer, test drivers agree that the 2013 Honda CR-Z is more fun to drive than most hybrid cars. Still, one critic says that noise from the CR-Z’s gas engine and hybrid components can be intrusive at times.

  • "While others have trashed the fun quotient of the CR-Z I think that by the standards of the class it is the most fun to drive of any of them." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Although the term ‘sporty hybrid’ seems a bit oxymoronic, the 2013 Honda CR-Z is arguably the most fun-to-drive hybrid this side of the luxury category." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The gas engine is rather loud when accelerating, but it fades away while cruising. You can occasionally hear the battery pack's cooling fan while it's active, which is bothersome at times." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Honda CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which produce 130 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters is optional. The EPA reports that the CR-Z gets 36/39 mpg city/highway with the CVT, which is better than what most affordable small cars get. Still, hybrid competitors like the Toyota Prius c and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid use considerably less fuel.

One reviewer notes that the 2013 CR-Z is powerful enough for highway passing maneuvers, though another critic says that the CR-Z’s appearance implies that it would be more thrilling to drive. Test drivers appreciate that the CR-Z is available with a manual transmission, and they note that it has a smooth-shifting gearbox with short throws. The CVT-equipped CR-Z draws criticism from one reviewer, who says that it feels less powerful and refined than the stick-shift model.

  • "The manual transmission is a rare gem in this ever-increasingly automatic world. Some have complained about the mechanics of the manual transmission, but I thought it was extraordinarily light and generally easy to engage. The throws were very short and I never had a problem getting it into or out of gear quickly and smoothly." -- AutoWeek 
  • Although it's peppy enough and nimble around town, the CR-Z doesn't really provide the invigorating drive characteristics that the sleek styling suggests." -- Edmunds 
  • "While 130 horsepower might not sound like much, the broad torque curve makes freeway passing and darting through intersections a breeze." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • No CR-Z jumps off the line, but the manual feels more powerful, and it's a delight to shift. Our CVT-equipped test car would occasionally bog down and jerk when accelerating from a standstill." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Handling and Braking

Critics say that while the 2013 CR-Z doesn’t handle quite as well as its racy styling would suggest, it’s still more athletic than other hybrid cars. They note that the CR-Z is more fun to drive than many of its competitors, and that good steering feel and strong brakes make the CR-Z stand out from the hybrid pack.

  • "Handling was light and even nimble, again, by the standards of the class. You will definitely have more fun in this than you ever will in any of the competitors mentioned above." -- AutoWeek 
  • Thanks to its tidy dimensions and quick steering, the 2013 Honda CR-Z is fairly nimble on city streets. Push harder, however, and the little Honda feels less agile, as there's more body roll and instability than one would expect given the car's sporty style and two-seat-only cockpit." -- Edmunds 
  • "… handling and braking are light-years beyond any mainstream hybrid we've driven." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Steering feel, on the other hand, is very good, especially with the 3-mode drive system on its Sport setting. Braking is strong and stable with good pedal modulation, which is a pleasant surprise given the unnatural feel of many gas/electric hybrid cars." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

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