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Sportier but Thirstier, a Hybrid Honda Tries to Be Hip

WHEN Honda showed the CR-Z concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007, it appeared alongside some of the wacky Japanese design exercises that the biannual show is known for. One difference between the CR-Z and the Nissan Pivo 2 (with a pivoting cabin), the Toyota Hi-CT (with styling akin to a shrunken Zamboni) and other flights of fancy is that the CR-Z actually goes on sale Aug. 24, looking pretty much as it did on stage.

The CR-Z doesn’t resemble anything else in the Honda (or Acura) lineup. A sharp wedge, it has an expansive glass rear hatch that seems to extend half the length of the vehicle, almost as if someone chopped a car into thirds, pulled out the center section and fused the two ends together. A gaping grille makes the car look like a feeding goldfish.

The CR-Z may look even weirder on paper. A two-door hybrid that seats two people, it resembles the original Honda Insight of 2000 but delivers noticeably lower fuel economy — despite the wide-ranging technology improvements of the last decade.

That original wedge-shaped Insight was rated at 65 miles per gallon in combined city-highway driving (a figure adjusted to 53 m.p.g. after the calculation method was changed in 2008). The new CR-Z gets 34 m.p.g. with a 6-speed manual transmission or 37 with a continuously variable automatic.

By comparison, the combined economy rating for the current four-door Insight is 41 m.p.g. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is rated at 39 and the Toyota Prius at 50. At $19,950, the CR-Z is the least expensive of those models, but not by much. I tested an EX version with a navigation system, which had a sticker price of $23,310. The Insight starts at $20,550, the Prius at $23,560.

It is curious that Honda decided to run with a two-seater, given that a chief complaint about the first-generation Insight was the space taken by its batteries, leaving room for only two people. The current, second-generation Insight seats four. (CR-Zs sold on other continents come with a tiny back seat.)

Honda clearly intended the CR-Z to evoke warm, fuzzy memories of its CRX, a vaguely similar two-seat slice of hatchback that Honda sold in the 1980s and early ’90s. The CRX was low-set, peppy and so light that it seemed in danger of flying away to join a bundle of renegade party balloons. Eventually, young hot-rodders discovered they could install bigger engines in the car (from an Acura Integra or a Honda Prelude), and the CRX became one of the best examples of a pocket rocket.

With the CR-Z, Honda is also targeting a young demographic with what it says is a first: a sporty, fun hybrid. At a press briefing in June, Honda said the low, short and wide CR-Z was designed for the “responsibly indulgent” buyer aged 25 to 35 who might also be considering a Mini Cooper.

By hybrid standards, the CR-Z is a fairly zippy ride. Honda says the car can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 10.1 seconds or less.

One has only to get inside to recognize that Honda didn’t build it for my dad, who while technologically savvy might not be prepared for the visual assault of lights, buttons and digital displays.

Read More At: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/automobiles/autoreviews/08honda-cr-z.html?src=me
 

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One has only to get inside to recognize that Honda didn’t build it for my dad, who while technologically savvy might not be prepared for the visual assault of lights, buttons and digital displays.

Read More At: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/automobiles/autoreviews/08honda-cr-z.html?src=me
So I disagree with this last sentence - I'm "geriatric" (according to Scotty's thread :p ), and I love the CR-Z dash and multiple displays, while my son who drives an '09 Nissan Fairlady Z finds the CRZ "too busy" with "too much going on". Think they got that stereotype wrong, as the CRZ will appeal to those of us who want to add a dimension to our driving without burning gallons of gas in the process.
 

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Just counted mine up and I've only had 16 cars and I'm 50 this year. And I still have 5 of those 16 here at the house. That's not including cars my boys have had but does include cars my spouse has had as we often drive each other's cars.

We've had some really cool cars that we love and have kept a long time. Hope the CR-Z is going to fall into that category.
 
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