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.