Honda are clearly taking the SUV trend very seriously, adding the ZR-V into an ever expanding SUV line-up.
It’s been designed to wedge nicely between the smaller 4-seat HR-V and bigger CR-V, with a very distinct design
In a way, you can think of it as a Honda Civic on stilts, designed to go head-to-head with the venerable Toyota Corolla Cross and popular Kia Seltos.
We’re reviewing the top of the range without splashing for the e:HEV (aka Hybrid) system, the Honda ZR-V VTi LX.
How much does the Honda ZR-V cost?
The Honda ZR-V VTi LX makes its debut with a set drive-away price of $48,500. Honda's transparent approach ensures there's no room for price negotiations or inconsistencies among various dealerships.
This gives potential buyers a clear and reliable purchasing pathway.
When compared to its e:HEV LX sibling, which is priced at a slightly steeper $54,900 drive-away, the VTi LX emerges as a more wallet-friendly choice.
In broader market terms, the VTi LX's price is comfortably below competitors like the Corolla Cross Atmos at $49,300 for the 2WD non-hybrid or the pricey Nissan Qashqai Ti at ~$52,000.
For those still inclined towards a hybrid within this budget, the Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos AWD Hybrid is about $55,000 drive-away, which is about the same as the ZR-V e-HEV.
2023 Honda ZR-V Price Overview:
Honda ZR-V VTi X: $40,200 (drive-away)
Honda ZR-V VTi L: $43,200 (drive-away)
Honda ZR-V VTi LX: $48,500 (drive-away)
Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX: $54,900 (drive-away)
With the VTi LX's price point and offerings, it represents a balanced proposition for those navigating between cost and features.
How is the exterior design?
The ZR-V is one of the first cars I’ve looked at that, if I’m being totally honest, doesn’t look like it matches the brand.
In fact, the design is reminiscent of Maserati - like the all-new Grecale or older Levante. It’s not bad at all, just a bit different.
The front has bright LEDs with nice daytime running lights, an interesting grille design (this is probably what I dislike most), but otherwise quite bold styling.
The side makes the ZR-V look deceptively big, however, it’s actually rather compact - which makes it fantastic for inner city driving.
Here are its dimensions:
4,568 mm x Length
1,840 mm x Width
1,620 mm x Height
Really it’s the perfect size for a midsize SUV.
The rear though is my favourite angle, it’s a really good look with tinted rear lights and familiar SUV styling.
What’s the interior and tech like of the Honda ZR-V?
Whether its for ease of cost and production, or familiarity for customers, the Honda ZR-V shares the same interior as essentially all Honda products since circa-2021.
That isn’t a bad thing, however, because Honda have made an interior that is seriously hard to fault.
The design is extremely logical, meaning you can get out of literally any car and go into the Honda ZR-V knowing where everything is.
Quality as well is surreal. Touch around, there is soft touch materials everywhere. That helps to reduce the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) of the cabin and improve perceived quality.
Down to the switches Honda uses for the air-con controls, they have a remarkable tactile feel to them and it just oozes quality.
Tech, however, is middle of the road.
The 9.0” display is small in the current mid-size SUV meta, but it is incredibly functional to use. It has in-built navigation, digital radio and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Shout out to the Bose sound system, which for the most part is great - except the bass is STRONG. For context, I’m an absolute bass-head, and I even had to turn it down in the equaliser settings!
The 10.2” digital instrument cluster is quite nice, with decent graphics and quite a lot of information to show.
In terms of I/O, you get a USB-A and USB-C port in an interesting little storage area tunneled under the centre console, as well as a wireless charger and 12V socket in front of the two cupholders.
The seats are leather and very comfortable, with the drivers side providing for a lot of adjustment. They are also heated, which is a nice touch, but unfortunately not cooled.
It is a bit unfortunate, however, that the passenger seat has no height adjustment despite being electronically adjustable otherwise.
Grabbing onto the leather steering wheel is a very nice affair, not just because it is heated in the LX trim but also because the buttons are logically laid out with a nice feel to them as well.
Other storage within the cabin is great too, with a large-enough glovebox, softly padded and deep center armrest and big doorbins.
It is strange, however, that no sunroof is standard (or even available!) for the Honda ZR-V. It’s something you will find on most if not all competitors at this price.
Still, the interior space of the Honda ZR-V achieves the goal of being extremely functional, comfortable and with no gimmicks - which is surprisingly refreshing in the mid-size SUV segment.
What about the back seats of the Honda ZR-V?
The Honda ZR-V provides for plenty of space in the back seats.
At 5’11”, sitting behind my driving position I have plenty of legroom, headroom and toeroom. Not too mention the seat support is great, with the leather upholstery feeling very nice and comfortable.
There is almost no hump in the floor either, meaning scooching across the rear seats is easy to do.
The rear door also opens nearly 90 degrees, which is very handy for those needing to buckle their kids in.
Amenities are good, with air vents, two USB-C ports and map pockets, with a fold down centre armrest revealing two more cup holders.
How much can fit in the boot of the ZR-V?
On paper, the boot space of the Honda ZR-V isn’t great.
But in practice, it’s totally fine.
With 370 litres of boot space, there is enough space for a weekend getaway with a family of 5 but probably not much more.
Drop the second row, however, and you do get plenty of space.
What’s under the bonnet of the Honda ZR-V?
Powering the Honda ZR-V VTi LX is a 1.5-litre four cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine, with 131kW of power and 240Nm of torque.
There’s also the hybrid e:HEV available, but only in the LX top-trim for an extra $6,400.
That outputs 135kW of power and 315Nm of torque from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine and 2 electric motors on the front axle
No matter what engine you choose, however, you will get Honda’s CVT (continuously variable transmission) and power is sent through to the front wheels only. No AWD version exists, sadly.
How does the Honda ZR-V VTi LX drive?
The Honda ZR-V drives very, very well.
The engine and CVT combo works very well together, with perhaps some hesitancy when taking off from a stop.
Still, despite not having loads of power and torque on paper, the 1.5L - which yes, still has VTEC - absolutely loves to be revved out to get the most amount of power from it.
It's punchy enough, and frankly, there is no need to spend the extra money on the Hybrid system considering the $6,400 price difference.
Fuel economy, over our week of driving it, was just 7.2L/100km which is quite frugal considering a lot of driving was done around town.
What was most surprising for us, however, was just how well the ZR-V handles. It has a surprising ability to corner very fast, which is not common for the class. Often you body roll hard in competitors, but not the ZR-V.
Also the comfort - it’s outstanding!
It’s not the world’s most comfortable suspension tune, but it does a really great job being comfortable in urban environments while not becoming floaty and unsettled round high-speed country back roads.
The steering rack as well of the ZR-V has been tuned immensely well, with the flick of the drive-mode selector into sports mode really adding weight and heft to the precise steering.
Down to even the mechanical grip of the ZR-V, which never felt like you had to be careful with the accelerator, it really did a great job of not wheel spinning on takeoff or understeering around a corner.
Some reviewers I’ve noticed have complained about cabin noise, but I couldn’t agree less - it’s quiet inside the cabin with minimal road and wind noise.
I really didn’t know what to expect with the ZR-V, but I’ve come away very impressed - certainly one of the best all-rounders in the segment for driving dynamics.
Is the Honda ZR-V safe?
The Honda ZR-V is yet to receive an ANCAP safety rating.
However, it does have a comprehensive suite of safety features:
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Agile Handling Assist System (AHAS)
Blind spot information system (Available in VTi LX and above)
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.