Is the 2011 Honda CR-Z a new CRX? Well, the CRX's influence is not only obvious in the CR-Z's name (which stands for Compact Renaissance Zero) but also in its truncated tail and horizontally split rear window. The triangular taillights bear a strong family resemblance to Honda's current (and pretty dorky) Insight, but the CR-Z is lower, wider, and certainly cooler. The upswept character lines and D-pillar suggest motion even when the car is parked, but the long front overhang can't mask this car's economy-car roots. After all, the CR-Z shares its basic architecture with the Fit and the Insight, but it rides on a wheelbase that is considerably shorter. The CR-Z is an inch shorter overall than the Fit but is almost two inches wider and more than five inches lower. Surprisingly, headroom is generous, since the sport seats are mounted low.
"Futuristic Busy" Cabin
Inside, the CR-Z is best described as "futuristic busy," with a multicontoured dashboard that has more angles and textures-and storage binnacles-than all four generations of CRX and Insight put together. Secondary controls are located in symmetrical pods on either side of Honda's smallest steering wheel, which, on top-trim EX models, is wrapped in blue-stitched black leather and freckled with enough buttons to control a spaceship.
The gauge cluster has numerous charts and displays dealing with fuel economy, but center stage is given to an oversize tachometer. Bedazzled with loads of three-dimensional elements, it has a blacked-out circle at its center that hides an LCD speed readout. A ring around that speedometer changes color-it's red when the CR-Z is in Sport Mode and alternates between green and blue in "Normal" and "Eco" modes, depending on how aggressively the car is being driven. The cluster is highly legible, but it's for the enjoyment of the driver only, as it's recessed so deeply into a circular binnacle that the passenger can't see it.
Room for two
That's right, like both the CRX and the first-generation Insight, the CR-Z is strictly a two-seater. In the space where the back seats would be (and they're optional in some markets) there are two deep plastic binnacles that seem purposely built to make sitting back there excruciating-probably a good thing, since there are no seatbelts. In place of what would otherwise be a seatback is a plastic cargo separator that folds forward to create a flat load floor. Inserting cargo is best done through the hatch, as the front seats don't return to their previous position after being folded forward for access to the rear-a surprising oversight from a normally very detail-oriented automaker.