Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,700 – $12,300*

2011 Honda CR-Z Front

2011 Honda CR-Z Rear

2011 Honda CR-Z Interior

2011 Honda CR-Z Profile

2011 Honda CR-Z Interior-2

2011 Honda CR-Z Front-2

  • Build quality
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride
  • Acceleration (CVT)
  • Engine noise
  • Interior storage space

While the idea of a sporty car that’s also a gas/electric hybrid is a bit puzzling, we can’t complain much about Honda’s execution of the concept. A CR-Z gets great fuel economy while being solidly built, pretty fun to drive, and not outrageously priced when new. Of course, two-passenger seating, a small cargo area, and restricted visibility limit its appeal. However, if you want to lower your fuel consumption and have a good time doing it, you’d do well to check out this Recommended (2011-12)sporty hatchback.


Launched for 2011, the Honda CR-Z was a brand-new, sport-themed gas/electric hybrid from this Japanese automaker. Specifically, CR-Z was a two-passenger, two-door hatchback that came in Base and uplevel EX trims. CR-Z shared some elements of its basic design with the Honda Fit subcompact car and the Honda Insight hybrid four-door. In the hybrid powertrain, a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine worked with an electric motor for 122 horsepower total. CR-Z required no plug-in charging, and the hybrid system could shut off the gasoline engine at a stop. The car was not capable of running solely on electric power. Transmission choices included a six-speed manual gearbox and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves much like an automatic.

Standard safety features included all-disc antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. All CR-Z models had a “3-mode drive system,” which drivers could set using dashboard buttons. Normal mode was for everyday driving. “Econ” changed engine throttle response and electric-motor operation to prioritize fuel economy. “Sport” altered those same functions to suit performance driving. Automatic climate control and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel were standard. EX versions had a wireless cell-phone link. A navigation system was available on the EX, and versions so equipped were priced as separate models. CR-Z competitors included the gas-engine Mini Cooper and Scion tC, and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf TDI; but no comparable subcompact sporty hybrid could be found at any dealership.

Yearly Updates

2012 CR-Z
The 2012 Honda CR-Z was essentially unchanged, except for newly optional black seat fabric.
2013 CR-Z
Honda gave the CR-Z a number of updates for the 2013 model year. The front fascia and various bits around the interior got a freshening. More importantly, CR-Z got a larger battery pack and a more-powerful electric motor. This resulted in more horsepower and a boost in projected fuel economy.
2014 CR-Z
The CR-Z had no significant changes for 2014.
2015 CR-Z
The CR-Z had no significant changes for 2015.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Each CR-Z contained a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine, which paired with an electric motor for a total of 122 horsepower. Two transmissions have been available: a six-speed manual and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves much like an automatic.

dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.5/91
Engine HP 122
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 123
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
CVT automatic

Road Test

Regardless of transmission, a CR-Z delivers middling acceleration. The three driving modes are easily discernible. Sport has the sharpest throttle response. Econ dulls acceleration and also directs the driver to upshift below 2,000 rpm via on-screen prompts. Normal falls right between the other two. The main difference between the manual gearbox and CVT lies in their behavior when starting off from a stop. 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.

As expected of a small hybrid, fuel economy is appealing. In Consumer Guide testing, a manual-transmission model averaged an excellent 37.5 mpg. CR-Z uses regular-grade gas.

Ride quality is better than expected. Although its short wheelbase results in some hobby-horse pitching over bumps, the CR-Z is quite well composed otherwise. Credit prudent suspension tuning and modestly sized 16-inch wheels for CR-Z’s solid feel and good bump absorption.

A CR-Z is quite nimble, but not as outright sporty as Honda claims. This is primarily caused by moderate front-end dive during breaking and cornering, and early-onset squeal from fuel-economy-biased tires, during even moderate cornering. Steering feel, on the other hand, is very good, especially with the tri-mode drive system in 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.

The gas engine is rather loud when accelerating, but that sound 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.

We appreciate CR-Z’s “3D” gauges, as well as the green-blue-red fuel-economy reminder “halo” around the speedometer. Climate controls are convenient and simple. The navigation system is the same as that used in Honda’s Fit and Civic. It absorbs audio functions, which complicates some adjustments. In addition, its high placement on the central dashboard puts a few functions just out of easy reach, which is problematic given the CR-Z’s low-slung seating.

The CR-Z interior is an interesting blend of shapes and textures. Overall ambiance is sporty and modern, with the chrome-finish door handles lending a bit of class. One test car suffered from a few uncharacteristic interior rattles.

Most adults will have sufficient headroom and legroom. Be careful when raising the seat bottoms, as your head might brush the headliner in fairly short order. Oddly, the seatbacks for the driver and passenger each feel different. The driver’s seat is very comfortable and supportive. The passenger seat in cars tested suffered from a noticeable bulge in the lower-back area. No lumbar adjustment has been offered. Rear visibility is subpar. The main rear window is raked sharply, and the horizontal bar between it and the smaller glass below is right in the driver’s line of sight. CR-Zs have no rear seating.

Cargo space falls short of most hatchbacks. The cargo area is on the shallow side. Honda claims two golf bags will fit, which is believable, but anything beyond that will have to squeeze in elsewhere. A flip-down partition ahead of the main cargo area folds to create additional space, and there is some storage behind the seats, which have handy closable lids. Cabin storage consists of a small glovebox, a couple of cubbies under the audio controls, and tiny door pockets. No center console is included, but one has been available as a dealer-installed accessory.


Model Tested: 2011 Honda CR-Z with CVT

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 10
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - -
Cargo Room - 5


Value - 8

Total: 58


2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.9 160.6 68.5 54.9 2637
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
25.1 10.6 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 42.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2012 CR-Z 2-door hatchback


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 3

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine misfire
Description: The rocker-arm oil-pressure switch may fail intermittently. (2011)
Electrical problem
Description: The battery could go dead after the vehicle is not driven for a day or two due to a relay for the air conditioning system sticking closed. (2011-12)
Description: The rear hatch may rattle unless the door bumper stops are adjusted. (2011)

Recall History

2011 CR-Z with manual transmission
Description: Should engine stall while brake pedal is not pressed, it’s possible that engine control unit software may cause electric motor of hybrid system to move the vehicle unexpectedly in the opposite direction of the selected gear.
2011-15 CR-Z
Description: Airbag inflator may rupture during deployment and metal fragments could strike passengers.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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