2014 Honda CR-Z Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Honda CR-Z was new.


Performance: 7.3

The 2014 Honda CR-Z isn’t as sporty as its splashy looks suggest, test drivers say, but they find it surprisingly athletic and fun to drive for a hybrid. Reviewers report that the steering is responsive and the brakes are strong and have good pedal feel. Reviewers say the acceleration is good, and while the CR-Z isn’t a rocket, it has plenty of power for passing and merging. The standard six-speed manual receives high praise for its ease of use. Fuel economy is excellent for a small car, but not as good as rival hybrids’ fuel economy.

  • "If you're hoping to experience the same agile performance attributed to the old CRX in its heyday, you're going to be somewhat disappointed. That's not to say the CR-Z hybrid for 2014 isn't fun to drive, it's just a heavier car that leans more toward comfort and economy than all-out performance.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2013)
  • "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 (2013)
  • "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. Wind noise is well suppressed, and moderate road ruckus is on-par for a sporty two-seat hatchback." -- Consumer Guide (2012) 

Acceleration and Power 

The 2014 Honda CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which produce 130 horsepower combined. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters is optional. Equipped with a CVT, the CR-Z gets its best fuel economy ratings at an EPA-estimated 36/39 mpg city/highway. That’s excellent for an affordable subcompact car, but small hybrid competitors like the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid use considerably less fuel. 

While reviewers say that the CR-Z isn’t the quickest car from a stop, they like the boost provided by its electric motor and say that the CR-Z has good power for passing and merging. They praise the standard six-speed manual for its precise shifter and say it makes the car feel faster off the line than the CVT.

  • "The CR-Z's electric motor adds a big dose of ‘go’ in pure torque, which helps with acceleration from a stop or when passing." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A six-speed manual is the standard transmission, a slick unit that's very much in keeping with Honda's tradition of excellent stick shifts." -- Left Lane News
  • "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 (2013)
  • “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

Reviewers agree that the Honda CR-Z has much better handling and is a lot more fun to drive than other hybrids. They say its steering is crisp and the brakes are strong with good pedal feel, which is rare praise for a hybrid. One test driver says the CR-Z loses some of its composure if you take curves at higher speeds. 

  • "The CR-Z's handling and braking qualities are vastly superior to most hybrids and should go a long way to satisfy those who know the difference between driving a car and steering one.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Handling was light and even nimble, again, by the standards of the [hybrid] class. You will definitely have more fun in this than you ever will in any of the [hybrid] competitors. …" --AutoWeek (2013)
  • "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 (2013)
  • "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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