Honda's CR-Z is a pretty cool little hybrid. There's a bit of sportiness that comes through the steering wheel and shifter as you putter along in city traffic or other roads that don't require much more than 45 mph to be enjoyable. What amazes me the most about the CR-Z is how little it reminds me of the Fit and the Insight, two Hondas I haven't really enjoyed.
The standard six-speed manual transmission does a lot to involve the driver. With most hybrids, you mash the gas, listen to a small engine rev up near redline, and wait until the vehicle hits cruising speed. The CR-Z allows drivers to race up to redline, quickly shift, and repeat the exercise. It isn't as fun as a Civic Si would be, but it beats the snot out of an Insight.
For an urban dweller without kids, it would be tough to beat the CR-Z as a fun-to-drive gas sipper. The incredibly small footprint of the car offsets the lazy acceleration, and the starting price of $21,500 is very reasonable. I don't think the CR-Z would be a good choice for those with long highway commutes, but if you're only on the highway occasionally it works well.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer