Honda unveiled its updated CR-Z hybrid hatchback at the Paris Motor Show a couple of months ago in its Euro-spec configuration, and with improved performance and fuel economy promised to us under the bright Parisian lights, we have been waiting to see how the changes will affect CR-Z's US version. It looks like Honda has come through by giving the hybrid hatch more power, better fuel economy and refreshed styling, and it has done so while keeping its starting price under $20,000. The 2013 CR-Z goes on sale this week priced slightly higher at $19,975 for the base model and $21,655 for the CR-Z EX, (*neither price including a $790 destination charge). The outgoing 2012 model carried a base MSRP of $19,695, so Honda has almost managed to hold the line on pricing despite the content increases.

The biggest improvements to the CR-Z come courtesy of a once-over to many of the car's drivetrain elements, but the most important is a new lithium-ion battery pack. Compared to the nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) system previously used in the CR-Z, the 2013 model's Li-Ion battery has a higher 15 kW output which in turn helps increase the overall system output to 130 horsepower and up to 140 pound-feet of torque (increases of eight horses and 12 lb-ft). Even with this increased output, the fuel economy has also gone up a little, with manual transmission models now rated at 31 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, while CVT-equipped cars achieve 36 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. Other key drivetrain updates include a reworked manual transmission with a larger clutch and lower final drive ratio, and drivers can now take advantage of the new Plus Sport System that gives the hybrid system an extra boost of acceleration under certain conditions (battery charged to more than 50 percent and vehicle speed above 19 miles per hour) at the push of a button.

These upgrades are in addition to a handful of styling tweaks made to the car. Outside, the CR-Z has a fresher face with a reworked fascia and optional LED daytime running lights. Two new exterior colors, new wheels and a rear diffuser include the other main changes for the new model year. Honda has made similar small changes inside the CR-Z with new trim, redesigned door panels and added standard features like a rearview camera for that tricky split rear window, along with Bluetooth. As far as options go, new technology includes available Pandora and text messaging features, and the EX trim level's cabin now gets a sportier black-and-red color scheme.

It will be interesting to see if these changes can improve the car's frankly dismal sales. Honda has only sold 3,705 units being sold through October (down 64.7 percent year over year) making it Honda's worst-selling model this year. Scroll down to read the automaker's official press release on its new CR-Z.
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2013 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid Coupe Gets Performance Enhancements, Fresh Styling and Host of Feature Upgrades

The only manual-transmission hybrid for sale in the U.S. adds more horsepower and value to its efficient, fun-to-drive appeal

11/19/2012 - TORRANCE, Calif.

The 2013 Honda CR-Z goes on sale November 21, 2012, with a host of powertrain, styling and feature upgrades adding to its sleek appeal and sporty handling. More power from an all-new Lithium-Ion battery pack improves performance while also improving the CR-Z's already impressive EPA mpg ratings. Styling upgrades include revised interior trim along with a new front fascia, a new finish for the 16-inch alloy wheels, an aerodynamically functional new rear diffuser and two new exterior colors – Passion Berry Pearl and Polished Metal Metallic.

Standard features on all 2013 Honda CR-Z models include Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®, Bluetooth® Audio, rearview camera, an Expanded View Driver's Mirror, AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry and cruise control. To give drivers even more access to the CR-Z's performance capabilities, the 2013 Honda CR-Z is also equipped with a new Plus Sport System, which allows additional on-demand electric boost via a steering wheel-mounted "S+" button.

With a starting MSRP of $19,9751, two CR-Z models are offered for 2013, including the well-equipped base CR-Z and the feature-rich CR-Z EX. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment and an automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available. The up-level CR-Z EX adds Auto-On/Off High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights, LED daytime running lights (DRL), a 360-Watt AM/FM/CD Premium Audio System with seven speakers including subwoofer, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. The CR-Z EX is also available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™2 with FM traffic and voice recognition, Pandora® Interface and an SMS text messaging function.

The improved horsepower and torque on the 2013 Honda CR-Z does not come with a fuel-economy penalty, as the new, more powerful Lithium-Ion battery pack helps boost EPA-rated fuel economy figures by 1 mpg city for CVT equipped models, and 1 mpg highway for CR-Z models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

Summary of Changes for 2013
-Revised front fascia styling
-New 16-inch alloy wheel finish
-New rear diffuser
-New Lithium-Ion battery pack
-Increased horsepower and torque
-New Plus Sport System
-Revised interior trim
-Available two-tone combi (black/red) seats
-StandardExpanded View Driver's Mirror
-Standard Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®
-Standard Bluetooth® Audio
-Standardrearview camera
-Available Pandora® Interface and SMS text message function
-Available LED daytime running lights (DRL)
-New Passion Berry Pearl and Polished Metal Metallic exterior colors

The CR-Z hybrid powertrain is a unique variation of Honda's original IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) technology, which debuted on the 2000 Honda Insight, the first hybrid vehicle available for sale in North America. The system in the CR-Z utilizes a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, 16-valve, single-overhead cam engine with "intelligent" Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) that receives additional power from the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system's DC brushless electric motor.

The hybrid CR-Z's electric motor assists in acceleration and also acts as a generator during braking or coasting to capture kinetic energy that recharges the new Lithium-Ion battery pack. The gasoline engine can automatically turn off during vehicle stops to improve efficiency. When starting on steep inclines from a stop with the manual transmission, hill start assist temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards during the moment between releasing the brake, depressing the throttle and releasing the clutch.

For 2013, assist from the electric motor has jumped from 10 kW to 15 kW, thanks to the new higher voltage (144-volt) Lithium-Ion battery pack. The CR-Z now delivers a combined peak output of 130 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 140 lb-ft. of torque (127 lb-ft. on CVT-equipped models), a gain of eight horsepower and 12 lb-ft of torque (4 lb-ft on CVT equipped models). Manual-transmission versions also receive both a larger clutch and a new lower final drive ratio.

Even with better performance, EPA fuel economy3 ratings for the 2013 Honda CR-Z have improved. On CVT-equipped models, the EPA city/hwy/combined rating is up 1 mpg city to 36/39/37 mpg, while models equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission see an EPA mpg rating of 31/38/34, a gain of 1 mpg highway. The CR-Z is also rated as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in states that adhere to California Air Resource Board (CARB) ZEV standards (EPA Tier 2, Bin 2 in all states).

To help drivers make use of this improved performance, a new Plus Sport System is standard on the 2013 Honda CR-Z. If the battery is more than 50 percent charged and the CR-Z is traveling over 19 mph, the driver can activate this feature using the "S+" button on the steering wheel. When activated and the accelerator is pressed, electric boost begins, delivering increased acceleration for up to five seconds. A flashing gauge on the dashboard indicates when the Plus Sport System is active. The Plus Sport System can be used in Econ, Normal or Sport modes.

Enhanced 3-Mode Drive System
Activated via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel, the CR-Z's 3-mode drive system allows the driver to choose among three individual performance modes:
-Sport mode enhances engine throttle responsiveness, electric power steering effort and the electric motor power assist.
-Normal mode standardizes steering, engine response, motor assist and air conditioning settings.
-Econ mode can increase the potential for enhanced fuel efficiency by optimizing throttle angle for smooth acceleration, lower engine rpm and limiting power and torque by approximately 4-percent (except at wide-open throttle). It can also reduce the air conditioning's overall load on the engine and modify the cruise control to operate more efficiently.

The CR-Z's "one-motion" exterior wedge shape begins at its low-slung hood to form a broad forward stance, with its side profile's deeply inset beltline adding a dynamic element. For 2013, a new front fascia and mesh grille help widen the presence of the CR-Z, and this effect is increased by the new "floating" lower front spoiler lip. New brighter chrome plating on the headlight assemblies tinged with blue clearcoat hint at the CR-Z's hybrid powertrain. The new rear diffuser mimics the floating lip of the front spoiler while also improving aerodynamic performance, and the lower portion of the tail lights receive the same blue clearcoat treatment. Exterior colors include Crystal Black Pearl, Milano Red, North Shore Blue Pearl, Premium White Pearl, new Passion Berry Pearl (exclusive to the Honda CR-Z), and new Polished Metal Metallic.

The CR-Z's front MacPherson strut and rear H-shaped torsion beam suspension are tuned to provide a sporty driving experience. All 2013 CR-Z models are equipped with new darker-tinged 16x6-inch aluminum wheels with finished spoke tips and 195/55R-16 tires, while accessory 17x7 alloy wheels with 205/45R-17 tires are available. The standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD) uses ventilated front discs and solid rear discs. The low vehicle height, short wheelbase and placement of the battery and other hybrid components beneath the rear cargo area further contribute to a low center of gravity and responsive, sporty handling. Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering enhances steering performance and improves efficiency.

A high-tech appearance and intuitive controls define the CR-Z's newly revised interior. For 2013, interior changes include new metallic trim on the door pulls and latches, center console, speaker grilles and lower steering-wheel spokes. The inner door panel has been redesigned to provide easier access to the storage space, with the horizontal bar on the speaker housing eliminated, and a bottle holder added to the pocket. The door-pad trim has also been upgraded with a new, more upscale lamination. For 2013, CR-Z EX and Navi trims will provide an all-new black and red interior trim combination that adds new two-toned combi seats, and colored accents to the door panels and floor mats.

The CR-Z's ultra-modern instrument panel gauges illuminate with a 3-dimensional blue color theme resulting in a multi-layered appearance. The upper portion of the dashboard extends toward the driver to provide a wraparound cockpit environment. Premium sport-oriented seats are designed to provide firm lateral support along with everyday driving comfort. A mid-ship console behind the front seats optimizes cargo space, and a hard-shell separator can be closed to create additional hidden storage.

The CR-Z features a 6-speaker, 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with an auxiliary input jack for connection to a portable audio player, and all models include a USB audio interface4 for connecting an iPod®5 or other compatible audio device. Other audio features include speed-sensitive volume control and CD/MP3 text readout. The radio data system shows supplemental programming information from participating radio stations while also offering search-by-genre capability (not available on the CR-Z EX with navigation). Now standard, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® and a rearview camera further expand the CR-Z's appeal.

A Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™2 is available on the CR-Z EX model and features a 6.5-inch screen and rearview camera display. For 2013, CR-Z EX Navi models add FM traffic, Pandora® and an SMS text messaging function. The navigation system database includes more than 7-million points of interest and integrates the audio system, while the voice recognition feature is capable of inputting numbers, street names and cities, in addition to more than 600 commands.

The CR-Z demonstrates a commitment to safety in its design and construction. The Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure helps protect vehicle occupants in a frontal collision. Additional safety technologies include: standard dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; standard front-side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbags, active head restraints; an anti-lock braking system (ABS); a tire pressure monitoring system; and a pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle.

The Honda CR-Z earned a TOP SAFETY PICK rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and 4-star Overall Vehicle Score in federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests.

The 2013 Honda CR-Z is covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile new-car limited warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion limited warranty, as well as a 15-year/150,000-mile emissions warranty when the vehicle is registered and normally operated in California and certain states that have adopted California Zero-Emission Vehicle regulations.

Connect with Honda:
For consumers:

1 MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $790 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
2 The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ is available on the CR-Z EX in the United States, except Alaska. Please see your Honda dealer for details.
3 Based on 2013 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
4 The USB Audio Interface is used for direct connection to and control of some current digital audio players and other USB devices that contain MP3, WMA or AAC music files. Some USB devices with security software and digital rights-protected files may not work. Please see your Honda dealer for details.
5 iPod not included. Compatible devices include fifth-generation iPods and later and iPod Nano.

Third-party trademarks: The Bluetooth word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license. iPod is a registered trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Rob Mahrt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Owned a 2011 for about 1.5 years and I personally loved the car. I still think it is beautiful (the pearl white paint at the perfect angle at night was stunning). I drove the 6-speed manual about 20k miles, mix of highway and city decently conservative, opening it up every once in a while, and averaged 43 mpg from day one to when I sold it. Only sold because I moved to a city where I barley drive. Time magazine had it as the cheapest car per mile driven over a 5 or 10 year life. Always been surprised at the low sales but I guess the public is just not into the entire package.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Although I feel the new improvements are good, as others have said, I think they should also do a non-hybrid SI model, and either dump the hybrid altogether, or make a Hybrid HF model capable of 50 Plus MPG like a early model Insight. Make an extreme fuel economy, or an extreme sport. Will appeal to way more people.
        Avinash Machado
        • 2 Years Ago
        • 2 Years Ago
        My only concern is you end up with some split personality at the committee table that the 'performance car' have to compromise with the 'secretary car' people. Sometimes they pull it off (CRX) sometimes it's a much tougher relationship (Fiero).
      • 2 Years Ago
      We own a 2011 manual transmission CRZ in the UK. It is a really fun car and the mileage figures listed here are just flat wrong. We get 35 mpg urban and 50+ on the motorway at a steady 75 mph. The economy isn't as good as some other hybrids but it is OK. The CRZ has three driving modes, these figures are running it 95% of the time in economy mode. If you run it in sport mode often, then expect lower mpg. I realise that the speed limit on US highways is lower than our motorways but I always thought it was the frequent stopping and starting in urban driving that made economy take a nose-dive rather than overall speed. Here's what we think it would make a better CRZ: 1. Get rid of the back seats. The Japanese model doesn't have them. Unless the people in the front seats are 5'6" or less there just isn't enough leg room in the back even for a child. I'm 6'2" and there is zero leg room since I have to have the front seats set furthest back. With the back seats folded down the boot space is huge. We like this for weekend jaunts. Removing the back seats means less weight. Less weight means more power. 2. Increase performance. The performance of the CRZ is lacklustre. It's only marginally faster than a 4 door Prius. This thing is screaming to have a turbo added. The better battery should help acceleration at slower speeds. The fun factor mainly comes from the handling, and boy does the CRZ hold on to the road. 3. Better emissions. Even though this is a Hybrid the new stricter emissions rules around London mean that the current CRZ is not exempt from the congestion charge. I've heard that California has pretty strict emissions rules too. I'm not sure how the CRZ stands up to them.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The sales failure of this car is probably due to the mentality of buyers that 2-seaters must be sport cars and sport car buyers could care less on fuel economy which makes hybrid less appealing. Lexus CT200 is another sport hybrid car, which is a premium version of Prius. CT 200 sacrifices quite some of its mpg to get "sporty" yet it's actually still slow. CT 200 isn't a 2 seater though and is the cheapest Lexus money can buy, which makes it better positioned than CRZ.
      • 2 Years Ago
      CR-Z's only "gaping hole" of a problem...Its a 2 seater. If you look at the history of 2 seater cars, its a very finicky and "survival of the fittest" category. I still don't know why or how the Mazda Miata managed to survive so long, but if the obvious lack of attention to it from Mazda wasnt reason enough ( Mazda keeps "refreshing" it instead of total redesign), stacked on top of the fact you might see one every full moon. Point is, America doesnt love 2 seaters anymore. They always get the axe after a couple generations. If the CR-Z was a four seater it would be a success.
        • 2 Years Ago
        A "4-seater CR-Z" would be the Insight, essentially. That hasn't worked out well for Honda either.
          • 2 Years Ago
          Insight is bland beyond belief. Honda thought if they copied Prius design and slapped a Honda grille on the car it would sell out in droves. Hondas IMA Hybrid system just isnt very impressive.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yeah... look at a 2 seater car like the Boxster: they don't sell isn't is?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can someone explain to me how starting price is "under" $20,000? They have a mandatory delivery fee. What's stopping a car company from saying "Starting price UNDER $10,000" then charging $2,500 delivery fee? They don't give us an option of picking it up at the plant - so they shouldn't be able to advertise a price without a mandatory fixed fee. Sales taxes in some states are Zero so I understand that one. Ok - now back onto this. CRZ - needed to have about 25-30 more hp and have 2 versions. An ultra efficient one - 52-53mpg combined (which in a tiny 2 seater should be easily attainable) and a performance 40-43mpg maybe like 145hp version with a tighter suspension and better tires. Honda is just putting this lazy hybrid system in their cars because they refuse to try to reinvent Toyota's system. Ford did it right. They licensed the prius system and then reverse engineered it and made it so they no longer have to pay licensing fees. They improved what they thought, they put it with their own engines and then changed what patents Toyota had. That is the way that everyone wins. The early company makes extra money with licensing and everyone else gets to sell hybrids and save money at the same time. This type of thing promotes change. Honda's keeping with their aging legacy ways is just hurting their image.
      • 2 Years Ago
        • 2 Years Ago
        the CRZ's fuel economy is underrated...
        • 2 Years Ago
        John, what "regular" powered 4 -seater is rated 36mpg in the city?
          • 2 Years Ago
          Oh my, look what we have here, everyone! We have a fanboy trying to defend a poorly executed product. See how he grasps at straws, going on and on about city mileage, as though that is the only consideration of customers? Fascinating, simply fascinating. It really illuminates how disconnected from reality he is.
          • 2 Years Ago
          carguy: maybe you don't understand; luigi.tony is pointing out how much people fall into the marketing of gas mileage by only looking at the highway rating. There are two numbers for a reason.
          • 2 Years Ago
          >implying I care lel.
        Gordon Chen
        • 2 Years Ago but look at all the cruze ecos. A larger, more capacity, non-hybrid gets similar mileage than the CRZ. Since this link includes all cruzes, I made a list from top to bottom of only the Ecos: 1) 38.1 2) 41.7 3) 30.1 (automatic) 4) 40.8 5) 29.7 (auto) 6) 29.6 (not specified tranny) 7) 35.7 8) 46.2 9) 42.3 10) 39.4 11) 50.2 12) 37.4 etc.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gordon Chen
          SPOILER: fuel economy isn't going to save it
        • 2 Years Ago
        I see John still hasn't answered my question.
      • 2 Years Ago
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well, in fairness, Hyundai's figures may be inflated ;-)
        • 2 Years Ago
        As others have stated, many Hyundais will NOT get better mileage than the CR-Z... The sad thing many will still believe something like the Veloster will be a better value, more fun to drive, and have better mileage than the CR-Z...but every test I have read has clearly shown the CR-Z to be the better car in all regards. This update will only make it more so... I rather have my old CRX Si than either, but all this hate on Honda is crazy stupid when you actually look at the facts.
        • 2 Years Ago
        I think you'll find real world fuel economy to be significantly better. My old Insight regularly achieved 46-48mpg and that wasn't even hypermiling.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I laugh at Gordon Chen. He thinks that POS Cobalt is a better option. The Cobalt is a horrible car, geared so low it can't climb a hill, runs on super hard high mileage tires that zap ALL, iif any, driving fun a Cobalt could generate. Love reading reviews on the Cobalt ECO where they get 20s in the test drive. Gordon, have fun in your ObamaMotors communist POS
      • 2 Years Ago
      A polished turd is still a turd, Honda. Axe this already.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Damn it! I was hoping that what they meant by "upgrade" was that the CR-V would finally come with a proper engine. I think this car is going to end up like the Element. This will be the first and only update it receives before it gets discontinued altogether. Another fail for Honda.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still like the CRZ. It's a fun little car with a manual.
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