Fuel economy ratings for the 2014 Honda CRZ are an EPA-estimated 31/38 mpg City/Highway with the manual gearbox, and 36/39 mpg City/Highway with the CVT. Obviously, the CVT is much more fuel-efficient around town. Regular gasoline is recommended, so there's no need to spend the extra money for Premium. Emissions are AT-PZEV, tier 2 bin 2, the cleanest ratings a vehicle with an internal combustion engine can achieve.
Zippy is the best word to describe CR-Z performance, one step above peppy. This hybrid hatch is stable in the wind, even with its light weight, a benefit of its wind-cutting aerodynamics.
The CR-Z can be set in Sport, Normal or Econ modes, and you can feel a big difference between them. When you switch modes, driving along at a steady 65 mph, the engine either slumps or surges. It's strong and responsive at 75 mph, in Sport mode, which might make you want to stay in Sport all the time. In Normal mode, the engine keeps running when the manual-shift car is at idle, even with all power accessories shut off.
The 6-speed manual gearbox is tight, although one could argue that it doesn't belong in a hybrid. When you get up to speed, the engine is smooth and quiet. The range with its 10.6-gallon tank is easily 300-350 miles or more. It's a six-layer composite tank, reducing evaporative emissions.
The CR-Z handles well in corners, and is quite responsive. Zippy might describe the handling, too. The tight steering ratio of 12.75:1 makes the CR-V a lot of fun to maneuver. But the suspension doesn't go easy on you. It follows the rises and dips in the road tightly, which is fine as long as the road is smooth. If it's not, well, at the end of our 280-mile freeway run, we were over it. Dull back pain afterward, a problem we rarely have.
Hill Start Control is nice with a manual transmission. When starting out on a hill, it gives you about three seconds to disengage the clutch, before the car starts to drift backward.
The brakes feel good: ventilated disc in front, solid in rear. Honda has managed to take the hybrid feel out of the pedal, while still regenerating energy. But we found the ABS quite aggressive. One time we hit the brakes abruptly at about 30 mph in stop-and-go freeway traffic, and the ABS engaged even though we were far from locking them up.