Tag Archive | "tonkin gresham honda"

Tags: , ,

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

Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

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

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

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!

Comments (0)

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos