Tag Archive | "honda crz portland"

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2011 Honda CRZ Progress Report

Posted on 15 May 2011 by admin

Hi car guys and Honda people!

I now have nearly 7,000 miles on my 2011 Honda CRZ (deluxe package, CVT) and it continues to grow on me.

Of course, in the six months I’ve owned it, gas has gone up to $4, which is what the car is designed for.

I think I have now achieved the optimum mileage possible on a road trip, exactly 46 mpg, from Portland to Salem, Oregon.  Conditions were ideal: summer regular fuel; 60 degrees and clear, so no use of lights, wipers or AC; Honda synthetic motor oil; a relatively flat trip with only the climb out of Portland to hurt mileage.  I simply set the system on Econ and cruise control at 64 mph.

It should be noted that it is hard to break 42 mpg highway in the dark of winter with AC, lights and all accessories working and winter fuel blend.

The stubby CRZ is not as efficient in shape as the Prius, so the mpg is drag-limited, and will go down if you travel at 70 or 75 mph.  The car is very willing to do it if you want, and rides and handles well for such a short wheelbase.

Hondas are generally tight little engines when new, and Honda uses a special break-in oil.  The engine is much peppier now after the first oil change to synthetic.  Certainly when driven in sport mode, there is more than enough power to make things fun, and also to exceed all legal speed limits.

Overall I really enjoy the car.  The stereo system is fantastic and the iPod works great for trips.  Luggage capacity is entirely adequate for two people.  I am planning to make a permanent tonneau cover to provide full luggage privacy soon.  It is a solid and tight little car; any squeaks come from your gear that is stowed right behind you.

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 4 of 4

Posted on 27 April 2011 by admin

I’ve had the CR-Z about a month now, and I’ve had a chance to drive it under a variety of conditions, so I can give a more complete report.

First, we should say that is really not a car in the traditional sense, but a computer with four wheels attached.

It has taken a while to understand all the displays and controls and functions, but they are very well designed and logically thought-out in the typical Japanese engineering fashion. It is all very cool: dash, controls, wands, storage, stereo system. It is especially nice to access the iPod functions of my iPhone through USB. But you have to read the manual.

It has also taken some driving experience to understand the various driving modes and how the integrated motor assist (IMA) works with the automatic continously variable transmission (CVT). But I now appreciate what the Honda engineering team intended, and it is an excellent solution.

It is all a study in energy management and conservation. You can think of the gasoline engine as the “check book” and the batteries and IMA as the “savings account”. In a conventional car, the energy lost in coasting downhill and braking is gone. The CR-Z system conserves it through regeneration, and then seamlessly feeds it back into the power train, depending on what its computer brain considers optimum. I find that it likes to keep about a 75% charge on the batteries, and quickly replenishes them to about 90% average when cruising. Fun to watch the displays show this on a road trip.

The computer can calculate the right balance of performance and power that the driver asks for, depending on whether you are in Sport (Power) mode, Normal mode, or Econ mode; and in the CVT models, can consider three variables: the infinitely variable gear ratio, the engine RPM, and the amount of IMS electric motor assist used, if any.

If you want power (Sport mode), the engine revs go up, the CVT gears down, and the IMS kicks in vigorously on acceleration. There is all the power I need, and I use it mostly for merging onto freeways, or on urban freeways to make lane changes and climb hills.

If you want economy (Econ mode) the engine lugs down, the CVT gears up, and the IMS comes in gently to add engine torque when needed, as when going up hills at highway speeds with cruise control on. Responses are more subtle, but surprisingly, they are not all that bad on a road trip.

Overall, the computer hates high revs, and shifts down whenever possible, so the engine rarely gets above 4,000 rpm unless you use the paddle shifters. This is not intended to be a high-reving car, and the IMA makes that unnecessary in any case.

For me, a car enthusiast with an interest in engineering solutions, the vehicle and its systems are intriguing, and I enjoy taking part in controlling (optimizing?) the vehicle. It is possible that the average driver won’t appreciate the incredible high technology that is designed into this car, or might be confused by them. It will probably always be a cult car in the U.S.

As for mileage, I now have experienced city driving, urban freeways, and a secondary road loop. As I mentioned in my last report, city driving seems to average about 36 mpg, urban freeways and secondary roads about 38 mpg, and a freeway trip to Seattle and back was 42 mpg.

On the freeway trip, we traveled at legal speeds, and I tried to keep the cruise control at 67 mph when traffic allowed. In economy mode at 67 mph, the computer likes to lug down the engine to 2,100 rpm and achieves about 40 mpg on level ground in pleasant weather. From CR-Z engine HP curves I found on the web, I calculate that the engine is using 50 hp to maintain that speed. The CR-Z will comfortably cruise faster of course, but I would expect a drop in mileage– from the mileage meter I’m guessing cruising at 72 mpg would bring mileage down to about 37 mpg, still not bad. And it is comfortable for 3-hour stretches of driving.

The CR-Z works very well for my driving around Portland, and performed just fine in Seattle traffic.

But it is different. The driver has to get used to the engine stopping while waiting for lights in city traffic. I’m used to it now. I’m also coping just fine with the rear vision issues. I don’t know how the CR-Z would work on the LA freeways, or in hilly high country like Denver.

I like all the high-tech features, the styling, the climate controls, the exterior lighting, luggage space, and the handling, too. I’ll give you another report in a month when we’ve tackled some mountain driving.

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 3 of 4

Posted on 20 April 2011 by admin

Here’s the report I promised you on the CR-Z. It took a while, because I wanted to put a tank of gas through it. That took 9 days of driving.

The first tank of gas went 362 miles in mixed city/uban freeway driving. Measured mileage was 40 mpg (39.93 mpg, 9.065 gal). That includes trips all over downtown Portland, and urban freeway trips to West Linn, Gresham, Vancouver and Lake Oswego.

1. Performance. I want to go on record that even the CVT version has adequate performance, although I know that Hondas take a while to break in, so it has not been above 5,000 rpm yet. The best example is getting onto I-205 Southbound at Oregon City. You have to make the 180 degree loop, accellerate uphill across the bridge, merge with traffic, and get up the West Linn hill on 205. I just hit the Sport button, kept the revs up, and I was accellerating up the hill passing traffic at 65 before I backed off to exit at 10th Street. Again, climbing up the 10th Street/Salamo Hill was not a problem in Sport. The electric motor kicks in with all its torque. When the engine has a few more miles, I’ll see what the paddle shifters will do up to red line, but I haven’t needed them to keep up with traffic anywhere.

2. Mileage. After moving down from an Accord V-6 coupe, I’m driving as I always drove. The CR-Z simply makes you more aware of how you are driving through the graphic guages on the dash. Normal mode is just fine if there is traffic. I haven’t used Economy much, but on level ground with cruise control, the dash indicates about 45 mpg at 65 mph on level ground in Economy.

3. Electric assist and electronic management. The interaction of the engine, electrics, regenerative braking, and mode control is all very seamless. Just push the mode buttons and the character of the vehicle changes instantly. Most of the time one does not notice that the engine shuts off at stop lights, especially with the excellent stereo on. The lights do not dim; nothing changes except that it is quiet. Sometimes you notice a slight shudder on engine startup, that is, when you take your foot off the brake.

4. Build quality. The CR-Z is made in Japan, and not to put down Marysville, Ohio, but it is assembled like a fine watch. Everything fits, paint is excellent.

5. Interior. Okay, the interior is like a space-age video game. I like it. Beam me up, Scotty. The seats are more comfortable than I first thought. I am going to make a custom luggage fabric area cover so that I can take advantage of all the luggage space length. Perhaps future US models will have this as standard. It has an excellent sound system.

6. Vision. As everyone notes on the web, rear vision is annoying at first. I added a small stick-on rectangular wide angle mirror (about $4) and now there is no left-side blind spot. After a week, I am used to it and it is not a problem.

7. Ride and handling. The short CR-Z is fun to drive and park in town. The suspension handles the rough Portland streets adequately in Normal mode. On the freeway, the electric power steering tracks straight and the car feels longer than it is. There is some tire drumming on rough freeways at speed. Sport mode suspension is tighter but not punishing. Braking is very good. Someday every car will have regenerative braking.

8. Capacity. I was little surprised to note in the instruction manual that Honda gives the CR-Z a load rating of 400 lbs. That might work fine in Japan, but in the US, a 180 lb man, and 150 lb woman are going to leave a luggage capacity of only 70 lbs. So my guess is that most Americans, including me, are going to overload this vehicle on long road trips with two large suitcases, garment bag, and a cooler. You are certainly not going to be able to bring much home from wine country. This issue should be addressed, considering that there is plenty of luggage space, but apparently not enough weight capacity.

9. The market. I know the CR-Z was aimed at young environmentally conscious yuppie couples. It would also be good for young singles and college students with a wealthy dad. Who knows, it could become a chick car like the retro VW bug? It is also working for me as an empty nest babyboomer–not to save the planet, but just to be an efficient, fun retirement car with some style.

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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CRZ v Fit Torque Comparisons

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 2 of 4

Posted on 13 April 2011 by admin

So Larry [one of Rick’s associates], your questions got me digging into the role of the CR-Z electric motor on the web.

The VTEC gas engine is the same as on the Fit, but red lined at 6300 rather than 6800.

The CR-Z electric motor is rated 13 HP at 1000 rpm, and 58 lb-ft at 1000-2000 rpm (!).

As you can see on the graph below, the electric motor does not contribute much to HP, just adding its 13 HP in a straight line. In fact, it might explain why redline is held at 6300. Or maybe something in the powertrain doesn’t like the higher RPM. Or maybe, because there is so much more torque, they want you to short shift and keep the cabin quieter. The CVT could be a problem, but Nissan seems to make it work with more power.

CRZ v Fit Torque Comparisons

Honda CRZ and Fit Comparisons


But look at the torque curve!

When you drive it, it feels like the 2 liter engine in my old RSX. Pulls great down low– nearly all from the electric side.

So you combine two prime mover types with opposite torque characteristics, and get the best of both. Neat engineering solution. Nobody is giving Honda credit for this.

But it looks like the tuners need to be careful. This is a complex system, not something you can hot-rod under a shade tree. There might be some reliability reason why Honda cut the redline short, otherwise I’m sure they would like to advertise an extra 10 max HP. Very conservative engineers.

All I can say is the small HP numbers don’t tell the story about the driving. My high school English teacher had a 59 VW convertible with 36 HP (40?) that was also a lot of fun to drive.

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 1 of 4

Posted on 06 April 2011 by admin

As proof of my creeping senility, I commited to buy a Honda CR-Z that is on the boat from Japan. (Me in a hybrid?!?!?!?)

In any case, I have always had a soft spot for short little ugly cars (4 Sciroccos, XR4Ti, RSX) so I asked Gresham Honda to let me run a little test loop.

The CR-Z is an “assist hybrid,” not like the Prius. It never runs on the electric motor alone. It just has this little 20 hp electric motor around the drive line, which I believe is also the starter motor. In sport mode, it comes in to give instant torque. Gas motor stops at lights. There is a little shudder and you are running again. 35 mpg in town. The electric motor also performs the regenerative braking.

The car has three personalities– controlled by buttons on the console. Sport is fun but not blistering–auto CVT model (which I’m getting so Suzan can drive it too) has paddle shifters that pick 6 fixed ratios, so you can drive vigorously and hold a gear. Normal is boring, good for 39 mph on the road. Economy makes the car a slug, but bloggers say they can crack 45 mpg on the road. Everything changes about the car as you change modes– suspension, steering, sound, response are all programmed. Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyl, and Grandma.

So I took it on a loop. Troutdale up the scenic highway to Corbet, down the twisteys to I-84, then back on the freeway.

Fun and engaging to drive on the backroads– with a 55 speed limit anyway. Good supple suspension, designed for Europe. Battery pack in the back helps front-rear balance. It is fun to watch the dash MPG meter register 100 mpg when you are going downhill on regen braking. Disc brakes are very good, and I couldn’t tell when the regen kicked in.

On the freeway, the car is a better cruiser than it should be considering how short it is. Partly the battery weight and electric power steering. In sport mode, accelleration on the freeway is adequate up to 80 mph.

Styling is star wars, inside and out. But it has a good stereo, USB and Bluetooth.

Anyway, this is a retirement touring car. Room for two big suitcases and a couple of small bags, better than a Miata or Cayman.

Seats are designed for short Japanese, I will replace them with Recaros as soon as the rail kits are available.

Back visibility is bad. It’s gonna need a wide angle stick-on mirror on the left side. Parallel parking is only possible because the car is so short. We’ll see about that.

Unlike most Honda enthusiasts, I admire Honda for pushing the envelope. All cars are going to have these features in a few years– drive by wire, regen braking, programmed character and performance, and much better mileage.

Honda released this car in Europe and Japan last year because of their higher gas prices. Even in Vancouver BC, with $4 gal. gas, it would have faster payback. But where gas is $5 or $6, it will be a hit.

This is what the Germans had in mind years ago when they made the Porsche 356, Karmann Ghia, and VW Scirocco Mk I. Not much horsepower, but still affordable and fun to drive.

(I really should wait for an Si version with more power. Think of this as my own little stimulus package for the economy.)

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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Rick Campbell shares his 2011 Honda CR-Z thoughts

Posted on 30 March 2011 by admin

Rick Campbell, owner of Rick Campbell Creative, recently purchased a 2011 Honda CR-Z from Tonkin Gresham Honda.  Rick is an avid engineer and Honda admirer.  As a result, he wanted to marry his two passions.  Rick wrote a diary cataloging his experience with the CR-Z.  We will feature a selection of Rick’s observations during the next four weeks.  Please check-in, review his thoughts and share your comments as well.

Thank you for sharing, Rick!

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