2014 Honda CR-Z Review

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2014 Honda CR-Z Overview

In a nod to its now-departed CRX mentor, Honda’s 2014 CR-Z attempts to offer a sporty yet commuter-oriented compact hybrid hatchback that is indeed sort of fun and certainly saves on gas. However, without a rear seat this down-sized gas/electric 3-door falls severely short on practicality. The 2-passenger seating returns complemented by a rear cargo bin with a fold-down divider that allows a total of only 25.1 cubic feet of toting capacity, thus pre-empting any sort of family vacation excursion, not to mention useful carpooling expectations. Sure, it looks wicked fast and street-savvy, but it is what it is: a low-budget, fuel-efficient urban gadabout.

In any case, this little hybrid is again offered in 2 trims, the entry-level CR-Z Base and the up-featured CR-Z EX. Should an available satellite-based navigation system be in order, the EX can be so equipped to beget the CR-Z EX with Navigation sub-trim. In the late spring of 2014, meantime, the Honda-idolatrous can be expected gain a reward with the CR-Z HPD (Honda Performance Division), a dedicated sports machine guaranteed… at least by Honda… to make you forget it’s still a hybrid hatchback.

Anyhow, sticking with the present, all 2014 CR-Z trims and sub-trims are available only with front-wheel drive (FWD), and each bears a 1.5-liter hybrid inline 4-cylinder (I4) gasoline engine mated with a 15kW electric motor to grind out 130 total horsepower. Standard in all trims is a 6-speed manual transmission that does give this Lamborghini-wanna-be a little kick on the open road while allowing 140 lb-ft of torque. Should this prove too exasperating for the downtown commute, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is an option in all CR-Zs, but torque drops to a mere 127 lb-ft. Mileage, meanwhile, is estimated at 31 mpg city/38 highway in stick-shift-equipped trims and climbs to 36/39 in CVT-toting editions.

Of course, regenerative braking again helps recharge the 144-volt lithium-ion battery pack, while this pint-size couple-carrying 3-door remains capable of puttering for short distances on electric power alone.

Look for the 2014 CR-Z Base to carry standard 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, full power accessories, cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering and a rear-view camera. Auto climate control is also standard, as are Bluetooth hands-free calling and a 160-watt audio system with a single-CD player, 6 speakers and iPod/USB interface.

The next-up EX sports, in addition to its Base compatriot’s goodies, heated outside mirrors, upgraded leather and simulated alloy cabin accents, and a 360-watt stereo with 7 speakers, including a subwoofer.

Options-wise, both trims are eligible for upsized 17-inch alloy wheels, while that satellite-linked navigation system with XM-radio traffic alerts and a multi-angle rear-view mirror, as well as a dashboard-mounted display, will result in the aforementioned CR-Z EX with Navigation.

Finally, standard safety equipment aboard the 2014 CR-Z lineup includes 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, side-mounted airbags, head airbags and active front headrests. Daytime running lights (LED in the EX) are again standard in all trims, as are turn-signal-integrated mirrors and a remote antitheft alarm. Additionally, the high-end EX flaunts standard high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights, as well as front fog/driving lights.

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Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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