We know what you're thinking: Hondas typically do well in Consumer Reports testing. And since Consumer Reports emphasizes good fuel economy, a hybrid should score highly in our tests, right? Not so much.
The two-seat CR-Z is derived from the Insight, a five-passenger hybrid hatchback that also scored too low to be recommended. To be sure, there are improvements in the CR-Z: the interior isn't so glaringly cheap, and handling is much more nimble than the Insight. The CR-Z's manual transmission is crisp and easy to shift and 35 mpg is nothing to sneeze at.
But compared to a long list of drawbacks, that good news isn't enough to recommend the car.
Handling is short on steering feel, a recent (and unwelcome) Honda trait. Even for a small sports coupe, the ride is stiff and noise levels are high. The stability control intervenes too late when it's needed, so the CR-Z's tail can swing out mid-corner. Lousy rear and over-the-shoulder visibility made changing lanes "like Russian Roulette," according to one tester's logbook comment. A diminutive 400-lb. payload capacity somewhat negates the large cargo hold and speaks to a real limitation in a country where 200-lb. adults are commonplace.
Even the details rankle: The car shuts off when stopped to save fuel -- but unlike most other hybrids, the air conditioner shuts off too, making it a drag on a hot day. The exterior door handles are awkward to grab, and you basically lunge in and out of the low-slung car.
So just because it's a Honda doesn't mean it's a good car. Even if the CR-Z turns out to be reliable, it scores too low for us to recommend it.