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A New Hybrid Coupe on the Scene: The 2011 Honda CR-Z

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author photo by Autotrader June 2010

Honda's all-new 2011 CR-Z hybrid two-seater coupe arrives at North American dealers on August 24 with an MSRP starting at $19,950, including delivery charges.

The base model comes with a six-speed manual transmission (a first for any mass-produced hybrid), offering EPA miles-per-gallon estimates of 31 city, 37 highway and 34 combined. The automatic version, with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), starts at $20,600, with mileage estimates of 35 city, 39 highway and 37 combined.

The CR-Z, which stands for Compact Renaissance Zero, has been on sale in Japan, Honda's home market, since late February and within the first month outperformed the automaker's own projections of 12,000 units annually there. Honda said it had already received 10,000 orders by late March.

Joe Phillippi, principal of research and consultancy AutoTrends, thinks a two-seater limits the appeal. "You think Smart (car) and you think commuter car," he said, adding the CR-Z would be a good second or third car for a family. Honda's track record selling hybrids in the U.S. hasn't been stellar, which is surprising, Phillippi noted, because the company has such "terrific engineers."

Honda was first to market in the U.S. with an electric-gas hybrid, the Insight, which arrived in 1999. A quirky little two-seater, it could hit 70 mpg, but never scaled the same sales heights as Toyota's roomier and more practical Prius, which debuted here in 2000. Since hybrid buyers want their cars to stand out, Honda also stumbled with its Civic Hybrid and Accord Hybrid, since both models looked too much like the all-gas versions. The distinct CR-Z name for the new hybrid should help Honda's "green" image against Toyota and its Prius, said Doug Scott, senior vice president of consultant GfK Automotive.

The CR-Z has so far received mixed reviews from enthusiasts, who generally like the cool styling, but not the unremarkable 122 horsepower handicapped by the car's heavy 2,637-pound curb weight. Even so, Honda expects to sell up to 50,000 a year around the world.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
A New Hybrid Coupe on the Scene: The 2011 Honda CR-Z - Autotrader