In-depth reviews

Honda ZR-V review: family SUV impresses but is pricey

Honda’s answer to the Nissan Qashqai features a slick hybrid setup and generous cabin space, but it’s not without its flaws

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£39,475 to £42,870
  • Impressive real-world efficiency
  • Generous equipment levels
  • Rear passenger space
  • Fidgety ride
  • Small boot
  • Price compared to rivals
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The Honda ZR-V shows an understanding of what a lot of people want from a mid-size SUV. It’s very spacious, well built and offers impressive real-world fuel economy thanks to its hybrid powertrain. The simple, logical cabin and infotainment set-up are also plus points, as is the generous amount of standard equipment. 

However the ZR-V is several thousand pounds more expensive to buy than hybrid versions of the Honda’s more practical, and arguably better looking, family SUV rivals. We also can’t help but feel that most buyers would be better served by Honda’s highly acclaimed Civic hatchback, as it uses the same hybrid setup and is better value for money.

Our choice: Honda ZR-V e:HEV Sport

About the Honda ZR-V

Honda, like all major car makers, has recognised that SUVs are what brings in the big bucks. That’s why the Japanese brand recently doubled the number of SUVs in its lineup, with the new mid-size ZR-V and all-electric e:Ny1 joining the familiar compact HR-V and larger CR-V. The latter has actually grown in size for the latest sixth-generation model, which has allowed the ZR-V to sit underneath. 

That puts the ZR-V in the firing line of some of the best-selling cars in the UK, including the head-turning Hyundai Tucson – our Mid-size SUV of the Year for the past three years – plus the tech-filled Kia Sportage and Renault Austral, comfort-focused Citroen C5 Aircross, versatile Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan, and hugely popular Nissan Qashqai. There are also plenty of all-electric family cars it competes with, including the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Nissan Ariya and Skoda Enyaq iV.

The ZR-V is, in effect, a crossover version of Honda’s popular family hatchback, and our Affordable Hybrid Car of the Year for 2023, the Civic. It uses the same platform as the Civic, and like the acclaimed hatch, it’s only available with Honda’s e:HEV hybrid powertrain. This combines a four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet with two electric motors, all working together to drive the front wheels.

The engine is mainly used as a generator to power its minute 1.05kWh battery pack, which in turn feeds the electric motors, but it can drive the front wheels directly at high speeds. It’s a complex system on paper, but on the road it’s extremely smooth and allows the ZR-V to drive like an EV, just with a petrol engine whirring away in the background.

As well as the sole powertrain option in the ZR-V, there are just three trim levels to choose from: Elegance, Sport and Advance. Even entry-level Elegance models are generously equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10.2-inch digital driver’s display, nine-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a suite of driver-assistance and safety features called Honda Sensing.

We’d go for the Sport trim ourselves, as it adds wireless smartphone charging, extra USB ports, a powered tailgate and half-leather seats, plus some styling tweaks. Top-of-the-range Advance models come with a panoramic sunroof and a Bose sound system, among other luxuries. There isn’t much in the way of customisation for ZR-V buyers, with most personalisation coming from a range of colours and exterior styling packs.

Of course you should expect plenty of standard kit when you consider the ZR-V’s price tag. It currently starts from a fiver under £39,500, which is several thousand pounds more expensive than hybrid versions of the Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson. In fact, the ZR-V has a higher starting price than the all-electric Skoda Enyaq

Frequently Asked Questions
We think the Honda ZR-V is a well-built family SUV, with plenty of interior space, lots of standard kit and the ability to return good fuel economy courtesy of its hybrid powertrain. It is more expensive to buy than rivals, however.

Honda ZR-V e:HEV Sport long-term test

Our current affairs editor Chris Rosamond is running a Honda ZR-V on the Auto Express fleet for six months. It’s early days but he's already impressed with just how much more space it has over its smaller HR-V sibling. Chris has a dog and always found it hard to fit her in the HR-V’s boot due to its sloping roofline, but he’s had no such problems in the ZR-V. The larger cabin also means there’s plenty of room for all the family.

Chris is finding the 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain very efficient, averaging almost 50mpg during his time with the car thus far. However, it’s not all good news as the cabin quality is a little disappointing, especially when you consider the price tag of his e:HEV Sport model is over £40,000. You can read the full long-term test here…

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