Test Drive: 2012 Honda CR Z car test drives reviews hybrids honda green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Honda CR-Z. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2011 Honda CR-Z
Test Drive: 2011 Honda CR-Z

Manufacturer’s web site
Honda Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2012 Honda CR-Z

City cars are all the rage these days with hip, urban youths. Well, that’s what automotive marketing departments would have us believe. If we are to listen to them, everyone who lives in a vast metropolis like Vancouver or Montreal should be driving one of these fuel misers for their economical operation, maneuverability, and ease of parking. As much as this is marketing speak, these are legitimate issues and concerns for those living within the tight confines of a park-on-the-street-only city dwelling.

Many manufacturers have taken a swing at building the perfect city car, and the likes of the Smart Fortwo, Scion iQ and just released Chevrolet Spark are three vastly different takes on what a city driver needs to remain independently mobile. None, as of yet, have achieved real sales success, but as cities get larger and fuel prices continue to rise, the city car may just have its heyday yet.

Test Drive: 2012 Honda CR Z car test drives reviews hybrids honda green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Honda CR-Z. Click image to enlarge

As oddball as the city cars above may seem, there is a fourth vehicle that is even further out in left field. It is not quite as small as a city car, yet only capable of carrying two people. Powered by a minuscule engine hooked up to a hybrid powertrain, this vehicle is actually available with a manual transmission. It is short at only 4,079 mm, but has a wagon-like 711 L cargo hold. The vehicle I am referring to is, of course, the Honda CR-Z.

With most vehicles I review, I tend not to travel into the heart of downtown Toronto. Partly because it isn’t that close by, but mostly because sitting in traffic for hours on end to move three km isn’t exactly the best way to evaluate a vehicle. But the CR-Z is different. With start-stop engine technology, regenerative braking, nimble handling, and a diminutive size, it is designed to excel in city conditions.

Test Drive: 2012 Honda CR Z car test drives reviews hybrids honda green scene green reviews greenreviews
Test Drive: 2012 Honda CR Z car test drives reviews hybrids honda green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Honda CR-Z. Click image to enlarge

Once it had been decided the CR-Z should be driven to Toronto, I needed a destination. Being I was in a Honda, the Honda Indy would be perfect; but I had just missed that event by a mere three months. Luckily, Honda is also the major sponsor of another Toronto sporting franchise—the Blue Jays. So it was decided; SkyDome the Rogers Centre would be my final destination. I would drive into the relatively youthful city of Toronto in a youthful car to watch a youthful baseball team. It was all coming together.

The Honda CR-Z debuted as a 2011 model in 2010. It features Honda’s IMA technology, which in simplified terms consists of a 1.5 L four-cylinder gasoline engine working in conjunction with an electric motor to produce 122 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque when the six-speed manual transmission is selected (123 lb-ft with the CVT automatic). Rather than get into all the technical details covered in previous Autos.ca reviews by Greg Wilson and James Bergeron, I’ll focus more on how it operates in the real world.

Shortly after departing for Toronto, my wife and I found ourselves gridlocked in rush-hour Toronto traffic. Since we were heading into the city, the amount of traffic we encountered was unusually high; most commuters leave the city at the evening rush hour, not enter it. Maybe all of the other 146 people who would attend the Blue Jays game that night decided to merge onto the expressway at the same time? Regardless of the slowdown, this delay gave me an opportunity to reevaluate the CR-Z’s interior.

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