2010 Detroit Auto Show: Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe Unveiled (Come On, Honda, You Can Do Better)


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

It's Official, Honda Needs to Go Full Hybrid

A lot of people have been not-so-patiently waiting for the production version of the Honda CR-Z hybrid ever since the concept version was introduced a couple years ago. Fans of the original CR-X HF have been drooling all over themselves and hoping for a worthy successor to their favorite fuel-efficient sporty compact coupe. Well, the wait is over! Or is it? Honda's main event in Detroit was the unveiling of the production version of the CR-Z hybrid, but sadly it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I really think that Honda needs to change course when it comes to hybrids.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Under the Hood

But first things first. Let's get the technical stuff out of the way:

The engine is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder i-VTEC combined with a 10 kW brushless electric motor powered by a 100-volt IMA nickel-metal hydride battery pack. This is the sixth version of Honda's IMA hybrid system since the original Insight in 1999.

The combined power of the gas engine and electric motor is 122 HP at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft. of torque at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm (123 lb-ft on CVT-equipped models). Emissions are AT-PZEV/Tier 2 Bin 2.

It's going to be available either with a 6-speed manual transmission or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

What About Fuel Economy?

This brings us to the problem with the CR-Z... MPG.

According to Honda:

Preliminary fuel economy estimates are anticipated to result in a 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.

Am I the only one who's underwhelmed?

The 1991 Honda CRX HF got 40/47 MPG. Granted, that's with the old EPA methodology, so those numbers would be lower today, and cars are heavier and safer now. But that car wasn't a hybrid, and engines have improved a lot since 1991. In fact, it looks like the Honda CR-Z hybrid will have a lower combined MPG than the much bigger Ford Fusion hybrid (which gets 41 city, 36 highway, 39 MPG combined).

If Honda's latest hybrid technology cannot get a small aerodynamic car over 40 MPG, they probably have to revise their whole approach.

The new Insight hybrid turned out to be kind of a disappointment compared to the third generation Toyota Prius, and now it looks like the CR-Z might turn out to be a high-revving, fun to drive little car, but not that great when it comes to lowering CO2 emissions.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

"The exterior's distinctive "one-motion" wedge form originates from its low-slung hood to form a broad forward stance. A side profile with a deeply inset beltline conveys a dynamic tension, while the short wheelbase and large, wide front grille accents the vehicle's athletic presence."


Photo: Michael Graham Richard


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

When will it be available?

The Honda CR-Z hybrid coupe is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in late summer of this year (2010).

More 2010 Detroit Auto Show
2010 Detroit Auto Show: BMW ActiveE Electric Car Concept
2010 Detroit Auto Show: Ford Introduces New Focus, Electric Version Production Starts in 2011
2010 Detroit Auto Show: Toyota FT-CH Hybrid Concept Might Join Prius Family
2010 Detroit Auto Show: Ford Invests $450M in Michigan for Hybrids & PHEVs
2010 Detroit Auto Show: Volkswagen NCC Hybrid Coupe Concept

Tags: Detroit Auto Show | Hybrid Cars | Transportation

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