Powering the Honda CR-Z is a hybrid system consisting of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor that is fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Maximum combined output is 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with shift paddles is optional (although torque is reduced to 123 lb-ft in this configuration). Fuel economy comes in at an EPA-estimated 34 mpg for the manual transmission model in combined city/highway miles, while the CVT ups that figure to 37 mpg.
Highlights for the CR-Z include its diminutive size, quick steering, customizable driving modes and sporty looks. The CR-Z's potential liability is ironically the source of its singular appeal, which is the lack of a rear seat. Honda instead has installed a pair of plastic cargo bins behind the seats, although they're rather difficult to access. The trunk divider can be folded flat to cover these bins, which increases cargo capacity to 25 cubic feet.