Are you on the market for a used Honda CRX? This model is steadily gaining traction again, as the prices have gone up lately, and for good reason. The CRX is a true legend. But what makes it so special? In this article, we are going to find out. We will learn everything about the CRX and all its interpretations through the years.
Learning more about the model that you plan to buy is hugely important. You should always know what to expect from that car and to be prepared. That’s because some repairs can cost thousands of dollars. It’s especially so for a car that is almost 30 years old. Parts for these cars are hard to come by these days and it can be tricky to maintain them.
That’s why before buying a used vehicle, you should always learn more about the vehicle and its heritage. Knowing this will guarantee that you will not suffer any major issues with it, and your ownership is going to be a breeze. And that’s why we are here to explain to you all the ups and downs of the CRX and give you the best input before you make a purchase of a used CRX.
In this article, we are going to learn all the things you need to know when it comes to the Honda CRX. First, we are going to cover the background of the CRX and its history. Then we are going to discuss the model and all two generations of it. For each generation, we will cover the ups and downs and possible problems that you might have with them. So, let’s dive into it.
Background Of The Honda CRX
The Honda CRX was a niche car that was introduced by Honda in 1983. Although a niche car, the CRX became an instant hit and was one of the most popular cars back in the day. It’s still a living legend that enjoys huge popularity in the car community until this day. There are a handful of online forums dedicated to this vehicle where owners can share their experiences and learn more about the positives and negatives of this model.
The CRX was based on the Civic platform and was a two-door hatchback. Although similar to the Civic, the CRX offered more than the Civic in terms of performance. The CRX included a unique design that made it stand out from the Civic and this guaranteed the sales of the CRX in the US.
During its short production term, the CRX managed to conquer buyers’ hearts. But what made the CRX special? The CRX offered more than the Civic or other alternatives. It was mainly powered by a peppy 1.5-liter engine that not only delivered the performance. But, it also delivered an excellent fuel economy as well.
The CRX was quite distinguishable from the Civic because of its unique hood, headlights, and bumpers. Also, the interior was much improved compared to the Civic. All these upgrades made the CRX a very desirable item that every Honda fanatic wanted to have and still want to have. That’s right, the CRX is still holding the value.
But why is the CRX still holding its value until this day? And the answer is nostalgia. The CRX brings a lot of memories to car owners that had one or dreamed to have one as children. That’s why the CRX today is worth the premium price.
First Generation Honda CRX
The first generation of the CRX was introduced in 1983 for the model year of 1984. The first generation was a two-seater, the CRX is basically one of the ancestors of the modern hot hatches. The design is pretty much the same with modern hot hatches, but with only two seats.
This two-seater configuration allowed increased cargo capacity at the back and also a more spacious room for the driver and the passenger.
Although it shared a lot with the smaller Civic, the new CRX was a completely new design that differentiated from everything else before was made. This sporty design attracted a wide audience of customers that wanted a two-door hatch.
The interior was also futuristic for the time and offered a lot compared to other cars. There were basically two trim options and those were the economy and the sport. The economy was mostly focused on maintaining good fuel economy and was a great commuter achieving more than 50 miles per gallon. Meanwhile, the sport offered a lot in terms of driving experience.
The sporty model had a stiffer ride quality and upgraded shocks. Also, there were upgraded engines that we are going to cover a bit later. Basically, the Honda CRX was a mighty opponent on the road. But what about the specs of the Honda CRX, with the engines and transmissions that this model has included? Let’s learn more about them.
Specs And Engines – Honda CRX
As we mentioned, there were two trims the economy and the sport model. During its first year of production, the economy model included a 1.3-liter CVCC engine. This engine was extremely fuel efficient even by today’s standards with more than 50 mpg of fuel economy. Not many cars today can manage to hit these numbers.
The sport model was the 1.5-liter engine. This engine was unique because included three valves per cylinder. This engine was offered with a 3-speed automatic transmission and a 5-speed manual transmission. It was not fuel-efficient like the other model that had the 1.3-liter engine, but still was able to deliver around 40 mpg.
For the next year, Honda has decided to ditch the 1.3 and replaced this engine with a 1.5-liter aluminum block engine with two valves per cylinder instead of the three valves as for the previous year. In 1885 Honda also added some new features and for this purpose, they made a new Sport Si model.
The CRX Si was a luxury and a sports car at the same time. It had a sunroof, remote mirrors, alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and a rear wiper. It also delivered a lot of power as well. 108hp to be exact.
These numbers were bumped for the next year, and in 1987, the Honda CRX delivered even more power, 135hp and it was one of the fastest cars in its category around at that time.
In 1987, there were numerous upgrades like new headlights, a newly revised spoiler, and bigger 14-inch alloy wheels. The interior was also upgraded with a new center console and storage for cassette tapes.
The first generation CRX has a wheelbase of 86.6 inches with a total length of 144.7 inches and 64 inches in width, making it really good if you have a small garage or a narrow driveway.
The CRX is also extremely lightweight and the weight is between 1,676 to 1,896 lb. It depends a lot on the engine. That’s since the bigger displacement, engines tend to weigh considerably more than the smaller ones.
This relatively lightweight also makes the CRX potentially dangerous. This is the case because of how these old cars handle if you drive them like you drive a newer vehicle, you can easily end up in a rollover
This tells you a lot about the Honda quality and how much more reliable were cars those days.
With the transmissions, it’s the same story. They are extremely durable, and could withstand a lot before they needed to be replaced or rebuilt.
The way to go is the 5-speed manual if you want to be more connected with your car, and also to get the highest fuel economy because you have 5 speeds which are two more compared to the automatic.
Owners have also praised the economical repairs. The average repair was extremely cheap, since there were not many things that can break on the Honda CRX.
The CRX is also regarded as one of the safest vehicles in its day. Remember that these were the days when there were no airbags on affordable cars like the CRX. Also, there weren’t other electronic stability control systems and ABS. Basically, cars these days can be death traps in an accident, but that’s how it was back in the day.
And that’s why the safety standards of the CRX do not match for 2021. If you are concerned with safety, then the CRX is probably not one of your picks.
Another issue that can be quite a problem with the CRX of 1984 is the engine power. The car for today’s standards can also be considered slow. So, you might have some problems while overtaking other cars on the highway or in traffic.
Not to forget the handling; it’s excellent for 1984 but not for 2021. When getting a used CRX, consider upgrades to the suspension as well. That’s since there are plenty of suspension mods for this car. By doing this you will somewhat bring the car to today’s spec in terms of handling.
In terms of technology, the CRX does not offer a lot. That’s even compared to the cars of the ’80s. But you can do an upgrade and install a new stereo or aftermarket infotainment system to bring the Honda CRX close to modern standards.
The fuel economy on the Honda CRX is excellent. The 1.3 engine is one of the most fuel-efficient engines ever made. Even much more impressive given that this was before the hybrid era began. This engine was rated at 50 mpg with some people who tested the CRX managed to squeeze 60 mpg out of it. The 1.5 engine was rated slightly above 40 mpg.
These numbers are astonishing compared to the modern cars that do not even get 30 mpg. But this is also owed to the lightweight body of the Honda CRX that allowed such big numbers to be achieved. Modern cars are a lot heavier since they have to comply with the safety standards and there, they lose the battle with fuel mileage.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, you should definitely buy the CRX. Especially if you are a Honda guy. This purchase will allow you to get in a time capsule and return on some better days when cars were not that complex and still were fun to drive.
The downside is that these cars have gone up in value because of their popularity. They have increased in value during the last few years and you cannot find a sport Si model below $5,000.
Second Generation Honda CRX
The second generation of the CRX was introduced in 1987. This new generation has included a revamped chassis that was greatly improved. The new generation has included a new suspension as well, that brought increased comfort for the passengers as well as improved safety.
There were new engines and the new invention that made Honda famous, the VTEC. Or variable valve timing, which greatly improved on to the previous engines and made them peppier.
This new generation also got a visual makeover that brought a lot of changes in the looks department, making the Honda CRX a lot more desirable. This model was greatly refined compared to the previous generation and is a huge improvement compared to the original car. But what was improved on the new Honda CRX? Let’s find out.
Specs And Engines – Honda CRX
As we said, the chassis was revamped and the CRX got a lot of updates, especially the VTEC cars. These cars got newly updated headlights, new hood, brakes, updated bumpers, and dashboard designs. Everything comparing the previous model was updated and refreshed.
This car was a huge leap compared to the previous generation when it comes to safety, handling, and power delivery. The new VTEC system definitely proved itself to be a worthy competitor on the market and made the Honda brand distinguishable from other vehicles. But what were the new engines that included this VTEC system?
There were three trim levels for the US market and this started with the Standard. This base model was equipped with a 16 valve 1.5l engine.
Then was the HF trim or “High Efficiency”, this model was with an 8 valve 1.5l engine. Since there were only 8 valves, this engine was considerably more eco-friendly and didn’t drink a lot of fuel. What was characteristic of this model was the multi-point fuel injection system that made this car one of the first to run this modern system of fuel injection.
And lastly was the high-performance option or also known as the Si (sport injected). This model was equipped with a 16 valve 1.6l engine that delivered between 120hp to 160hp on the later models.
The standard transmission was the automatic transmission which was a 4 speed. A big improvement compared to the previous generation that had only 3 speeds. Also, in the Si lineup, there was an option for the 5-speed manual. This was the transmission of choice among the enthusiasts.
Equipment And Features
What was characteristic of this generation was the improved equipment and new features. The Si included an electric motor-powered sunroof and also 14 alloy wheels as a standard. This model also got improved steering and disc brakes on all four wheels which was a big innovation at the time.
In the color department, there were also some innovations and the new cars got new colors as well. There were six color options for each of the model years. Four color options were offered on the CRX and the Si, while the HF trim got only two options.
The greatest improvement in features was in 1990, two years after the introduction. These changes included a refresh on the headlights, taillights, and bumpers. Also, the cluster was changed including other interior design changes.
The Si models during this year got 4-wheel disc brakes that greatly improved the safety as well as bigger alloy wheels compared to the standard.
The revision of the chassis for the second generation has meant changing the vehicle dimensions as well. The new generation became bigger in size with a wheelbase of 90 inches and a length of 148 inches. The width was 65.9 inches.
These safety features also meant that the weight is going to increase. The new generation has weighed between 1,808 and 2,205 lb.
The new Honda CRX was also as reliable as its predecessor since not much of the chassis was changed. The biggest concern is rust. Cars that were made in the ’80s and ’90s were not known for their durable metal.
When trying to get a used CRX, the metal should be your top priority. Try to find a decent car that doesn’t rattle and doesn’t have major rust issues.
The engines are pretty much worn out, as most of these cars have more than 200,000 miles, and it will be extremely difficult to find one that has low miles. That’s why consider getting a new engine or transmission as well. Or if you find a good example that was preserved, the engine should be good. But these examples also cost a lot of money, to be honest.
It is also fortunate that the aftermarket is full of parts for these cars and you can find almost anything out there.
Safety is another thing that should concern you. Since this car was designed in the ’80s, it’s not something that can be a benchmark in 2021.
That’s why to bear in mind this before getting a used CRX. When buying one, safety should be one of the least concern.
But if you plan to race your Honda CRX, you can install a roll cage. This way, you will be protected.
The fuel economy for the second generation of the Honda CRX has significantly dropped. The average combined fuel economy was around 27 mpg which is a significant drop compared to the model from the previous generation that made nearly 50 mpg.
So, why is this the case? Well, Honda ditched the 1.3l that was economical and installed a 1.5l engine that had more power, but less fuel efficiency. Not to forget the increase in weight for the newer model that also contributed to the reduction of the fuel mileage.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, you should definitely buy it. The newer Honda CRX is a small and fun car. It has better suspension than the previous generation. Resulting in improved handling.
Also, the introduction of VTEC made a huge impact and unlocked a lot of potentials that these engines had. VTEC basically gave the car boost when it goes close to the rev limiter. Honda is quite known for this ingenious system that they invented.
This is a good question, which is the best CRX? It is very difficult to point out the best CRX since has been almost three decades since the last one rolled out from the production line. The best one is probably the newest one of the most preserved examples that you can find.
These would probably be the later models that were produced before the production has ended. And knowing the mad car prices these days, they will probably cost you a fortune to get. A CRX from 1984 with 400k miles can cost around $4,000 to buy. The newer and more preserved models cost almost the premium. But they are worth it since the Honda CRX is a model that holds its value very well. And you can expect that this value will go up in the future.
So, investing in a CRX is probably a good idea. Just try to find a good deal, you might wait longer, but it will be worth it.
Honda CRX: 10 Facts That Make It an Awesome Little Car
- The Honda CRX is a classic Japanese sports car with a unique charm that’s rarely seen on the road today.
- Despite being a sports car, the CRX was surprisingly fuel-efficient, capable of achieving up to 70 mpg.
- The original designer of the CRX used his Alfa Romeo GT Junior Zagato as the basis for the car’s design, showing European inspiration.
- The CRX came with a wide variety of engines to suit every type of driver, ranging from a 1.3-liter to a 1.6-liter VTEC option.
- The CRX is a great value, with used models typically selling for around $12,500 on average.
- Due to their rarity and unique qualities, some CRX models are becoming collectors’ items.
- The low weight of the CRX, ranging from 1,713 to 2,174-lbs, gave it excellent handling.
- The interior of the CRX was well-styled and had some standard features such as a cassette player and air conditioning.
- The cool styling of the CRX makes it very recognizable as a mid-80s hot hatch, with unique but not over-the-top features.
- The CRX is a classic JDM hatch with a reasonable price, potential for customization, great engines, and handling, making it an awesome little car.
Conclusion – Honda CRX
In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the Honda CRX. We have discussed the history of the CRX and then we have covered the two generations of the CRX.
We discussed the key features of each of these generations. Then, we shared our opinion of both of these interpretations.
If you are on the market for a used CRX, make sure that you find one that has a low amount of rust and also makes sure that it is mechanically sound. If not, it can cost you a lot of money to get it back in good condition. That’s why sometimes paying a premium may be worth it.