The 2014 Honda CR-Z is all but unchanged in its fourth year. It's still a distinctive shape: a low, wide rollerskate of a hatchback on a very short wheelbase, with seemingly half its length in front of the steeply raked windshield and an oddly truncated high tail.
The goal was to blend influences from three different cars: the much-loved 1983-1991 CRX two-seat hatchback, the 1999-2006 Insight two-seat hybrid coupe, and today's Insight subcompact five-door hatchback. The result is distinctive, a compromise that incorporates minimal aerodynamic drag and the dictates of modern crash structures in a way that the CRX never had to. The CR-Z's tall tail, with a vertical glass panel to improve rear visibility, was a theme of both the CRX and the first Insight.
Last year's CR-Z got a slightly updated nose and tail, including blue tinted headlamps and tail lamps. but the differences won't be visible unless you're an aficionado. Overall, the car conveys presence on the road, even if we're not convinced you could call it attractive.
Inside, the wraparound dashboard has the two tier layout familiar to Civic and Insight drivers. Unlike certain grim Honda interiors, the dash is covered in soft-touch materials. As of last year, there's more storage in the door panels than early models--but this is absolutely a pack-light and leave-the-rest-at-home car.
Gauges that switch among blue (normal), green (efficient driving), and red (Sport mode) light up the interior. They're also educational: Drivers can be guided toward using less fuel if they work to keep the displays as green as possible. The CR-Z is small enough that you could consider it something like a video game on wheels.