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2013 Honda CR-Z

By Paul A. Eisenstein

On Sale: Early 2013
Expected Pricing: Starting at $19,975

The 2013 Honda CR-Z on sale now, delivers more power and better fuel economy from a new lithium-ion battery pack. The CR-Z uses a hybrid powertrain utilizing a fuel-efficient 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor that supplements power. Changes to the 2013 CR-Z are designed to address the previous version's lack of acceleration performance.

The Honda CR-Z two-seat compact received plenty of attention when it approached its 2009 debut, fans warming recalling the maker's old CR-X sport compact. But that was followed by mixed reviews once the CR-Z was launched as a 2011 model and it became clear its hybrid powertrain didn't pack the hoped-for performance. Honda had focused more on fuel economy than performance. Honda revealed the 2013 CR-Z at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, a mid-cycle update designed to resolve most of the critics' concerns, with some promising visual tweaks, more power and, in particular, a new electric turbo mode.

The 2013 CR-Z features revised front styling, with larger foglight and air intake openings, a new grille and revised fascia, as well as LED accent lights surrounding new headlamps. A new rear diffuser updates the rear styling. Inside are revised fabrics and other minimal changes.

Honda says fuel economy for the 2013 CR-Z has been improved slightly over the 2012 model, which achieves an EPA-estimated 35/39 mpg City/Highway with a continuously variable transmission model. The 2013 CR-Z CVT improves the city fuel economy rating by 1 mile per gallon. Honda hopes to keep the loyalty of hyper-milers, drivers who alter their driving style and take other steps to maximize fuel economy.

Fuel economy for the 2013 CR-Z is an EPA-rated 36/39/37 mpg City/Highway/Combined with CVT, 31/38/34 mpg with 6-speed manual. The CR-Z is rated as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in states that adhere to the California Air Resources Board ZEV standards, or EPA Tier 2, Bin 2 in all states.

However, the real emphasis with the revised powertrain is on putting some pep into CR-Z's currently anemic performance. The sport compact's 1.5-liter gasoline engine will benefit from an updated variable valve-timing system and modified computer software to generate more power. The electric motor, meanwhile, now draws power from a new lithium-ion battery that replaces the older nickel-metal hydride pack. It is both more efficient at storing energy and at pumping it back out to the driveline. Add it all up and combined output jumps to 130 hp at 6000 rpm. Torque, that force that propels the car up hills and away from intersections is now 140 pound-feet with the 6-speed manual, but just 127 pound-feet with the CVT.

We mentioned there are relatively minimal interior changes but it would be a mistake to ignore one in particular: the little S+ button now added to the steering wheel. It's not quite launch control but you might think of it as the hybrid alternative to turbocharging. Conceptually similar to the HY-KERS hybrid system used in Formula One racing, it gives the drivetrain a significant boost for up to 5 seconds (when the battery pack holds at least a 50-percent charge). Honda calls it the Plus Sport System, and it comes standard on the 2013 CR-Z.

At maximum power, the 2013 Honda CR-Z will launch from 0 to 100 kmh (62.5 mph) in 9.0 seconds, a 0.7 second improvement over the 2012 model. Top speed, meanwhile, is expected to be 124 mph.

The 2013 CR-Z starts at an MSRP of $19,975, which does not include $790 destination charge.


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