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Honda Debuts Production Version of 2011 CR-Z Sport Hybrid Coupe

The 2011 Honda CR-Z EX. Click to enlarge.

Honda introduced the 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe at the North American International Auto Show. The CR-Z is now Honda’s third hybrid currently in the market, along with the Civic Hybrid and new Insight. The CR-Z represents the sixth unique version of Honda’s original IMA technology since the launch of the 2000 Insight, the first hybrid vehicle available in North America in December 1999.

Set to go on sale in late summer 2010 in the US, the two-passenger CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available.

The foundation of the CR-Z hybrid powertrain is the 4-cylinder, 16-valve, single overhead cam engine with intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) that receives additional power from the IMA system’s DC brushless electric motor.

The i-VTEC system controls the opening and closing of one intake valve per cylinder to enhance combustion at low RPMs. The 10 kW electric motor assists in acceleration and also acts as a generator during braking or coasting to capture kinetic energy that recharges the 100V IMA NiMH battery pack. The gasoline engine can automatically turn off during vehicle stops to improve efficiency.

The system delivers an estimated combined peak output of 122 hp (91 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft (174 N·m) of torque at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm (123 lb-ft on CVT-equipped models). Preliminary fuel economy estimates are anticipated to result in an EPA rating of 36 city/38 highway miles per gallon on CVT-equipped models. Manual transmission models are anticipated to achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 31 city/37 highway miles per gallon. The CR-Z is rated as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in states that adhere to California Air Resource Board (CARB) ZEV standards (EPA Tier 2, Bin 2 in all states).

The standard six-speed manual transmission is engineered for optimal acceleration performance in gears one through five and for optimal fuel economy in sixth gear. When starting on steep inclines from a stop, hill start assist temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards during the moment between releasing the brake, depressing the throttle and releasing the clutch (for a duration of approximately 1.5 seconds).

The available CVT provides the convenience of an automatic transmission with a seamless transition between minimum and maximum ratios, while also keeping the engine within an optimal RPM range for overall efficiency. To increase the performance potential of the CVT, paddle shifters located on the steering wheel allow the driver to manually simulate the stepped holding pattern.

The CR-Z introduces a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Economy and Normal driving modes. The system is activated via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel.

  • The Sport mode enhances multiple vehicle systems for performance including the engine throttle responsiveness, electric power steering effort and the electric motor power assist. The inner ring of the tachometer illuminates red when the vehicle is in Sport mode.

  • During Econ mode operation, the engine’s responsiveness is tuned for optimal economy, the electric motor assist gives priority to fuel efficiency and the air conditioning system can reduce its overall load on the engine. The inner ring of the tachometer transitions between blue and green when the vehicle is in Econ mode, with the green representing more ecological driving.

  • Normal mode provides standard settings for steering, engine response, motor assist and air conditioning. Similar to Econ mode, the tachometer ring transitions between blue and green when the vehicle is in normal mode, with the green representing more ecological driving. Like the Honda Insight, the CR-Z offers an Eco Guide and Eco scoring feature to help drivers track progress of efficient driving styles.

There are two trim levels: the base CR-Z and the CR-Z EX. Standard features on the CR-Z include Vehicle Stability Assist, an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry, cruise control, and more. The CR-Z EX adds, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights with Auto-On/Off, fog lights, a 360-Watt AM/FM/CD premium audio system with seven speakers including subwoofer, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. The CR-Z EX is available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition.

The low vehicle height and placement of the battery and other hybrid components beneath the rear cargo area further contribute to a low center of gravity, which is key to the new CR-Z’s responsive, sporty handling. Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering enhances steering performance and improves efficiency.

The Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure helps protect vehicle occupants in a frontal collision. Additional safety technologies include standard dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; standard front-side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbags, active head restraints; an anti-lock braking system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and a pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle.


Nick Lyons

I'm sure this would be fun to drive, but 36/38MGP is disappointing. You'd think 40+ would be easily achievable with such a vehicle.

Will S

Too bad they didn't have two different engine configurations, but they seem to have given up on trying to catch Toyota's Prius or new FT-CH. I wonder what mode the EPA testing was performed in? If 'normal', I wonder what fuel economy the 'economy' mode would give?


I am afraid that Honda is about to put on the market another hybrid that will sell poorly...I am not too sure what goals Honda is pursuing with its shaky hybrid strategy. This car makes little sense on every way you look at it. They should better mate their hybrid drive-train on the Fit, it would make more sense from a marketing standpoint.

Will S

Has Honda dropped the Fit hybrid?



At curent fuel prices it's probably more econpmically justifiable to hybridize a sports car than a small economy car. Several thousand dollars extra in manufacturing costs would make the Fit uncompetitive, as people would first look at what mileage they'll break even.
For a sports car a few thousand extra in cost is first less percent-wise. Also sports car buyers often pay thousand of dollars for some options simply because they like them (sunroof, leather, sports suspension, wider wheels, turbocharging...) or for bragging rights.
Perhaps the best way to look at this car is a turbocharged base model that at the same time offers lower fuel consumption.


I have to agree with Treehugger. Considering the Accord hybrid debacle and the company's ho-hum prius competitor, I'm not so sure Honda really knows what to do with hybrid technology. My 1986 CRX had better mileage. Sure the engine of the CR-Z is more powerful but I also bet the new car is far heavier. I'm sorry the CRX went away but it was obviously due to lack of sales. Could America be ready for it now? One wonders . . . .


Huh? Hybrid, optimal fuel economy 6-speed and 37 mpg highway?

The Fiat Punto Evo with 135 HP gasoline engine and 5-speed transmission gets 51.1 mpg without hybrid.

Well, it wouldn't sell in Europe.


"My 1986 CRX had better mileage."

Poor comparison.
- emissions
- safety standards (occupant protection and accident avoidance)
- standard equipment

Your 1986 CRX also stopped from 60 to 0 in 166 feet, had 60 hp (if you are discussing one that has better EPA rated fuel economy, because anecdotal fuel economy numbers are worthless when trying to compare two models).

By comparison both a Chevy Suburban and a Ford Expedition can stop from 60mph in 138ft and 140ft (respectively). Pretty much the difference between life and death in around 25 feet of stopping distance.

Will S

Your 1986 CRX also stopped from 60 to 0 in 166 feet

What is your source of information on this?



Unfortunately [for me] I can't find a better source. All magazines I could locate from the era (popular mechanics and road and track) either look strictly at fuel economy for the HF model or look at the CRX Si which did not get nearly as good fuel economy and had wider (and assumedly stickier) tires. In the case of the more sport oriented CRX Si the 60-0 was still around 144 to 145ft with every listing I could find.

Freddy Torres

The end game is clear! Implement Atkinson engines for all cars, use direct injection to further increase the compression ratio and therefore thermal efficiency, use a small turbine to scavenge the last few Joules out of the exhaust, pass the turbine exhaust through a heat exchanger to trap the heat to maintain cabin temperature and....keep these engines off as long as those lithium ion batteries have any charge left!
As batteries become more power dense, we should reduce the size of the ICE to the point that they will only be used as a cogeneration unit that will turn on only to heat the cabin in cold weather.

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