Honda has shown its hand for the future with a deft shuffle of its SUVs, including the
addition of a new model, the ZR-V, slotting in between the present HR-V and CR-V.

While the newcomer is different, it does go somewhat to cramping the style of its
older siblings. However, Honda assures us that the coming of the all-new CR-V in
2024, as a bigger, more spacious model than at present, will resolve the situation.

“The Honda ZR-V is Honda Australia’s first, brand-new core model to be introduced in
Australia in 20 years,” says Honda Australia director Carolyn McMahon, “and uses an
enhanced version of Honda’s global architecture.”

The Civic-based ZR-V comes in three petrol-only grades and a range-topping petrol /
electric hybrid. Prices start at $40,200 for the VTi X with the hybrid e:HEV LX costing
$54,900. On test was the ZR-V VTi L at $43,200. All prices are drive-away.

Standard equipment on the base model includes premium cloth upholstery, a 9-inch
infotainment touch-screen, eight-speaker sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay,
wired Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker sound system, 10.2-
inch digital instrument cluster, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 11 airbags, 17-inch
wheels, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors front and back.

In contrast, the VTi L takes on leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, 18-inch
alloys, heated door mirrors, hands-free power tailgate, rear privacy glass,
combination LED tail-lights and metal paddle shifts.

All ZR-Vs come under Honda’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with 24/7
roadside assist. Service intervals are 12 months or 10,000 kilometres and capped at
$199 per visit.

At a tad over four-and-a-half metres long, the ZR-V is knocking on the mid-size SUV
door. With a forceful front, the radiator grille shows off why black is the new chrome,
cropping up in all classes of automobile, from bargain basement compacts to high-
end aristocrats and anything in between – a ZR-V, for example.

By contrast, the headlamps flanking the front each share a home with daytime
running lights and dynamic direction indicators under a single sleek clear plastic

In profile the SUV is neither too tall nor too small – a genuine design Goldilocks –
and leads to a rear as neat and tidy as a tucked-in shirt. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels
are a step up from the entry-level 17s.

Seating is firm and could give rise to complaints on long journeys. Head and legroom
are excellent. However, in the back the high-set floor leaves little room for toes under
the front seats.

Out back there’s also a fold-down armrest with cup holders, double USB-C charge
points and bottle nest. ISOFIX points are fixed for the outboard edges of the rear

Access to the 380 litres of boot space comes via a power tailgate operated from an
external switch, or with a gentle ‘kick’, Sam Kerr-style, to the rear bumper. Fold the
60 / 40 seat backs and 1312 litres becomes available.

The under-floor comes in two parts and can be used to separate cargo. There’s
room only for a space saver spare wheel.

Honda has hooked in to the floating centre console with decent-size cubby below.
Deep cup holders are situated ahead of the gearshift switch. Door slots will take 700
ml bottles.

A 9.0-inch touchscreen is small by present-day standards but is home to a simple
menu layout for wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, eight speaker sound

The 10.2-inch digital information cluster screen displays a good amount of driver
information. Up front are USB-A and USB-C, in the rear two USB-C points.

The Honda ZR-V VTi L relies on a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine
mated with a CVT automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

Maximum power of 131kW comes up at 6000 rpm; top torque of 240 Nm between
1700 and 4500 rpm, making for flexible performance from go to whoa.

The Honda ZR-V leads the class in passive safety with 11 airbags, including a front-
centre and driver’s knee airbag.

Active safety includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist
detection, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, driver attention monitoring,
lane-keep assist, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking
sensors, plus tyre pressure monitoring.

With 240 Nm of torque on tap from a low 1700 revs well managed by the CVT
tuning, the ZR-V pulls away with little fuss. Acceleration into a motorway stream of
traffic is likewise. Engine, wind and road noise are all-but absent, except in the last
case on course surfaces.

Ride and handling are competent thanks to a well-tuned suspension. Town work on
test was as expected for a light vehicle, while body roll on fast bends was minimised
and road blemishes ironed out with ease.

As a performer, of the three drive modes, Normal is, well normal, for day-to-day city
traffic, while Eco saves fuel but obviously dumbs down the driving experience. Sport
makes the best of the turbo for a taut response to right-foot input.

Honda puts a combined urban / highway fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100
kilometres on the ZV-R petrol vehicle. On test the VTi L came up with 9 litres per 100
kilometres in the city and as low as 5 litres per 100 kilometres on the open road.

Driver’s view all round is mostly good but is let down by limited rear-window glass.
There’s a neat lock-as-you-walk-away form the vehicle when you have your hands

As a long-time possessor of a self-propelled Honda lawnmower and large house
block I have been pleasantly surprised with the machine’s performance and
reliability. It makes me wonder if the same could be applied to the company’s new
SUV down the track.

Looks: 7/10
Performance: 8/10
Safety: 9/10
Thirst: 8/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 7/10

Honda ZR-V VTi X $40,200
Honda ZR-V VTi L $43,200
Honda ZR-V VTi LX $48,500
Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX $54,900
Note: These prices are drive-away

SPECIFICATIONS (Honda ZR-V VTi L 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder petrol, CVT automatic,

Capacity: 1.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 131 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 1700-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Regular unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.2 L/100km

DRIVELINE: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive

Length: 4568 mm
Wheelbase: 2655 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1620 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1510 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 57 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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