Interior

The driver's seat has more legroom than I needed at 6 feet tall, and it has comfortable, supportive cushions with just enough side bolstering. The passenger seat, however, had too much lumbar support, and neither seat lets you adjust it. A driver's seat height adjustment is standard, and I had a little headroom to spare even with the seat raised fully. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, which is another plus. The one omission is a center armrest, which is optional. If comfort isn't a good enough reason to get it, the cabin's lack of covered storage certainly is. There's a glove compartment, but it's tucked far under the dashboard and is hard to access even from the passenger seat.

Visibility to the front and sides is good, but out the rear is a problem. The rear pillar is high and wide, and the rear windows — bisected by a horizontal beam as they are in the Insight — are rather narrow. On the positive side, the crossbeam seems higher than it is in the Insight and Prius, so it didn't obscure cars behind me in the rearview mirror.

The CR-Z EX's interior impressed me. We've complained about inconsistency in Honda's cabin materials, both the quality and the typical hodgepodge of textures and colors. The CR-Z is an improvement. There's low-gloss material on the dashboard and the tops of the doors, and the door handles and some dashboard trim feature a high-luminosity metal-film composite that Honda describes as a thin layer of vaporized tin under clearcoat. Pretty effective stuff.

The seats are upholstered in silver-gray mesh fabric. It looks pretty good on the doors, too, but it's a bit too coarse to be serving as armrests. The gauges are brilliant, three-dimensional luminescent affairs, including a digital speedometer at the center of an analog tachometer dial. Like the Insight, the driving mode buttons, ventilation controls and other switches rest on pods canted toward the driver. Unlike the Insight, there's no separate high-mounted gauge at the base of the windshield, which some people don't like. I was reminded that I like it because the steering wheel blocked my view of the gauge cluster.

Sometimes efficient cars are noisy. The CR-Z isn't bad. Engine noise is the most intrusive, but it's mainly under heavy throttle. Other sounds are relatively balanced: There's some road noise and occasional wisps of wind around the A-pillars, but nothing is overbearing, though a motorcycle or noisy car alongside the CR-Z intrudes through relatively thin (lightweight) side windows. One sound I couldn't help noticing was a slight hiss coming from the cargo area that I thought was static from a radio trapped between stations. Ultimately I found it was a cooling fan for the battery pack, which speeds up and slows down along with the vehicle, so it's always just barely audible. Raising the cargo partition and putting the retractable cargo cover in place seemed to quiet it down some.

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