The gauge cluster will impress Trekkies, too, with numerous charts and screens displaying fuel economy information. The cool guy wins here, though, since center stage is given to an oversize tachometer. Bedazzled with loads of three-dimensional elements, it has a blacked-out circle at its center for a digital 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 well the driver is behaving. 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.
That's right, the word passenger is singular. 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 some markets do get them), there are two deep plastic pockets that seem pur-posely 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 floor. Loading cargo is best done through the hatch, as the front seats don't return to their previous position after being folded forward to access the rear -- a surprising oversight from a normally very detail-oriented automaker.
A CR-Z costs just $600 less than an Insight, starting at $19,950. The cabin comes outfitted any way you like it, so long as you like it with silver cloth seats and a two-tone black-and-silver dash and door panels. The $1560 EX package adds an impressive 360-watt, seven-speaker sound system; HID headlights; foglights; aluminum pedals; a few silver interior trim pieces; and Bluetooth, which makes selecting the EX almost mandatory these days. Navigation adds a steep $1800. The CR-Z comes standard with the usual power goodies, automatic climate control, and auxiliary audio inputs, but if you need a sunroof, heated seats, or keyless ignition to feel cool, you'll have to look elsewhere. And if "elsewhere" is behind the car, you'll wish the CR-Z was available with a backup camera -- those C-pillars could block an entire neighborhood.