The Honda CR-X, originally launched as the Honda Ballade Sports CR-X in Japan, is a front-wheel-drive sport compact car manufactured by Honda between 1983 and 1991. It was replaced by the Honda CR-X del Sol for the 1992 model year. Although there are many supposed definitions for the acronym CR-X, the most widely accepted is "Civic Renaissance Experimental".
In the US, the CRX (not CR-X) was marketed as an economy sport Kammback, with room for two passengers. The European-spec car received a ZC 130 hp (97 kW) engine and a 2+2 seating arrangement. Redesigned in 1988 and produced to 1991, the CRX was popular for its performance, nimble handling, and good fuel economy. Honda's 1992 CRX del Sol was marketed as a CR-X in some markets.
1.3 L 58 hp I4 1.3 L 60 hp EV1 I4 (1984–1986) 1.5 L 58-76 hp EW1/D15A2 I4 (1984–85) 1.5 L 91 hp EW3/4 I4 (1985–87) AU/NZ Spec: 1.5 L 108 hp EW5/D15A3 I4 (1985–1987) 1.6 L 135 hp ZC1/D16A1 I4 (1986–1987)
For the 1984 model year, Honda introduced an all-new two-seater that shared the drivetrain with the Civic but offered unique styling and interior furnishings. In North America, the CRX was marketed in two versions: economy and sport. The economy model used a new aluminum 1.3 liter CVCC engine. The sport model featured an aluminum 1.5 liter four cylinder with three valves per cylinder and available with a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic.
For 1985, Honda replaced the economy model with an HF (high fuel) model featuring a 1.5 liter engine which uses an aluminum block but the 1984 CVCC cylinder head (two valves per cylinder) instead of the new aluminum head with three valves per cylinder. In spring 1985, Honda introduced an Si (Sports, injected) model featuring a more powerful 1.5 liter SOHC PGM-FI engine. The Si model included a power sunroof, standard dual remote exterior mirrors, rear wiper, 13-inch alloy wheels and an Si-exclusive ducktail spoiler for the hatch.
For 1986, Honda updated the CRX with new aerodynamic headlights. The Si received body color matched lower cladding, a revised rear spoiler, new bumper covers and 14-inch alloy wheels. The interior was upgraded and added a center console with cassette tape storage. 1987 was virtually unchanged from 1986 and would be the final year of the first generation CRX.
The first generation CRX was sold in some regions outside Japan as the "Honda Civic CRX". At its introduction, the CRX was available in Japan through Honda Verno dealership sales channels, and accompanied the Vigor, the Quint, and the Prelude.
1987 Honda Ballade Sports CR-X 1.5i (Japan)
The CRX design was inspired by the Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato which the Honda CRX designer owned.
The Japanese Si and European 1.6i-16 models came with a 1590 cc DOHCengine putting out 135 bhp (101 kW; 137 PS) in the UK-spec model and 140 bhp (104 kW; 142 PS) in the JDM model. Though similar versions of the same engine, the Japanese Si engine was stamped ZC, while the European engine was stamped ZC1.
Japanese buyers took advantage of the largest, 1.5 L, engine while still paying the same amount of annual road tax.
1987 Honda CRX Si (U.S.)
Project Synchronicity Honda Crx was a collaboration between American Honda and Racing Beat to install a second 1.5 liter engine with automatic transmission into the hatchback cargo area. The installation of the second powertrain "took six months and cost $20,000 dollars". Phase Two of the project was to have Racing Beat install two 1.8 liter engines with automatic transmissions from the Honda Accord into Synchronicity. The Honda CRX would be called Super Synchronicity because of the increase of performance from two larger engines. Both Honda Accord 1.8 liter powertrains were fuel injected and upgrades were made to the suspension. A Mugen body kit and upgraded wheels were also installed.
The original 1.3 liter car (chassis code AE532) had an EPA highway mileage rating of 52 miles per U.S. gallon (4.5 l/100 km; 62 mpg‑imp) in 1984 and was reported to often achieve over 70 miles per U.S. gallon (3.4 l/100 km; 84 mpg‑imp) in favorable driving conditions. The later 1.5 liter American-market CRX HF (high fuel economy) model (chassis codes EC1 and AF) could also reliably achieve very good gas mileage, more than a decade before gas-electric hybrids appeared on the market, and at no price premium over the base model; the 1.5 liter is rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (under the new rating system) at 42 miles per U.S. gallon (5.6 l/100 km; 50 mpg‑imp) city and 51 miles per U.S. gallon (4.6 l/100 km; 61 mpg‑imp) highway.
The chassis was significantly changed in 1988, from its original torsion bar in the front and beam axle and trailing link in the rear to 4-wheel double wishbone suspension, in line with its sister Civic/Ballade models. Outside of North America, this second generation CRX was available with a 1493 cc SOHC or an updated version of the 1590 cc DOHC ZC engine. Many of these were fitted with fuel injection as standard.
Honda CR-X SiR
The VTEC-equipped models also received a makeover, with updated bumpers, lights, hood, brakes, suspensions and dashboard designs amongst other things. Additionally, some of these design changes were added to the concurrent non-VTEC models.
One of the options for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) CR-X was a glass roof, a fixed glass panel which stretched from the top of the windshield to the top of the hatch opening. Relatively common in Japan, these are sought-after models in other markets.
In September 1989, Honda added the 1595 cc B16AVTEC engine to the lineup outside of North America. The VTEC (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) engine provided increased power at high RPMs while still allowing low fuel consumption and better idling at low RPMs. The B16A produced 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) in the European 1.6i-VT model (where the engine bore the designation B16A1) and 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp) in the JDM SiR model. The CRX was the second car to receive a VTEC engine, shortly after the Integra, although the CRX was more popular and common.
The CR-X equipped with the 1.6 DOHC engine (ZC engine) or the 1.6 DOHC VTEC engine (B16A) came with a different hood since the B16A and ZC engines were taller and required additional hood clearances in comparison to the 1.6 SOHC engines. The ZC engine was only slightly taller than the 1.6 SOHC engine and required additional hood clearance to clear the cam gear cover. A CR-X equipped with the ZC engine had a hood with a bump on one side which offered the additional necessary clearance. Cars equipped with a B16A engine came with a hood that was raised across most of the engine bay to offer additional overall clearance for the taller engine.
Three different trim levels were available: The standard (unlabeled, sometimes called the "DX") equipped with the 16-valve 1493 cc "D15B2" engine and dual-point fuel injection (DPFI), the HF ("high fuel efficiency") model with the eight-valve 1493 cc "D15B6" engine and multi-point fuel injection (MPFI), or the Si (sport injected) model with the 16-valve 1590 cc "D16A6" engine and MPFI. "DX" models were available with an automatic transmission, all others had a five-speed manual transmission. A modification was made to the rear of the vehicle on all second generation vehicles in that a glass panel was installed on the upper half of the rear of the vehicle, above the tail lights which aided in rearward visibility in addition to the glass hatchback. This panel is heavily stippled black.
Features and equipment
Air-conditioning was a dealer-installed option on all models. The Si model came with a power sliding sunroof and 14-inch alloy wheels. Underneath, the Si model was equipped with a rear anti-sway bar along with variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering. The 90-91 Si models had 4-wheel disc brakes.
Colors and trim
There were a total of six colors offered each model year. Four color options were available on the CRX and CRX Si and two color options were available for the CRX HF. Color availability would vary based on trim package and the interior color would depend on the exterior color choice.
In 1992, Honda replaced the CR-X with a new, targa topped, Civic-based model called the Honda CR-X del Sol, otherwise known as simply the Honda del Sol. The del Sol was also badged as the CR-X del Sol in some markets, and known as simply the CR-X in others. It is because of this that the del Sol is generally considered the "third Generation CR-X" among enthusiasts, although it was arguably a very different car and Honda had seemingly quite different design goals when they built it. In the United States, the del Sol came in three trim lines: S (VXi in Japan, later VGi), Si (ESi in Europe), and VTEC (VTi in Europe) ; the JDM SiR model (not in US) featured a 170 hp (130 kW) B16 SiR-II DOHC VTEC-engine. Production of the del Sol ended in 1997, and thus, the CR-X line was retired.
Comparison to other Honda vehicles
Articles on the 1st generation Honda Insight have compared its appearance to that of the 1984–1991 CRX.
The CRX was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1984 and 1990, with the CRX-SI model also taking that title in 1988. It also made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1985. The redesigned CRX was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 1988. The 1988 CRX Si was named one of Road & Track's 10 Best Cars of All Time.
Consumer reporter David Horowitz tested the 1984 CRX's fuel economy claim in a "Commercial Challenge" on his TV series Fight Back! Commercials for the CRX claimed it could reach 60 miles per gallon fuel economy; according to Horowitz's test, it bested that figure, reaching 65 miles per gallon, and passed the test.
In Australia, the 1988–1991 CR-X was assessed in the Used Car Safety Ratings 2006 as providing "significantly worse than average" protection for its occupants in the event of side impact. On the other hand, both versions of the CR-X got good safety marks (5 and 4 stars) in the NHTSA Crash Test Results for 1997 US NCAP.
The U.S. version of the second generation CR-X employed the use of side impact door beams on some models. These models can be identified by the mounting position of the safety belts. If the belt is mounted in the door, the beams are present. If the belt is mounted in the body, there is no additional reinforcement. 88 and 89 HFs along with 88 SIs and DXs have the B-pillar mounted restraints, like all versions sold outside of the U.S.
Like the Civic, due to the wide availability of parts, the CR-X is popular for motorsport usage. In the United Kingdom, there was a one-make series dedicated to the series 2 of the CR-X which soldiered on a few years after the series 3 was introduced and was popular for showroom stock racing series. Today, the car is popular for use in drag, autocross and road racing events.