2024 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX hybrid review

18 minutes, 23 seconds Read

The Honda ZR-V hybrid offers Toyota RAV4 Hybrid-like fuel economy without the two-year wait, but is it worth the extra money over the petrol version?

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What we love
  • Smooth and perky hybrid system
  • Excellent real-world fuel efficiency
  • Intuitive interior technology
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What we don’t
  • Steep $6400 price premium for hybrid over petrol version
  • High floor in rear seats, small boot
  • Likely four-star safety rating

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2024 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX

It is a five-seat, mid-size family SUV that slots between Honda’s other two SUV models in size, price and performance.

At 4568mm long it fits between the small HR-V (4335mm) and larger CR-V (4704mm for the new model on sale now) – and is almost identical to a Mazda CX-5 in length, width and height.

Is the ‘middle-child’ ZR-V the right-sized Honda SUV to buy?

How much does the Honda ZR-V hybrid cost in Australia?

The ZR-V variant on test sits at the top of the four-variant, all front-wheel-drive model range: the e:HEV LX, priced from $54,900 drive-away.

That mix of lower and upper-case letters, and punctuation means it is a hybrid (e:HEV) – the only hybrid variant in the line-up so far – and the top equipment level (LX).

It costs $6400 more than the VTi LX petrol ($48,500 drive-away) – with the same equipment level but a regular 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine – and dearer still than the petrol VTi X ($40,200 drive-away) and VTi L ($43,200 drive-away) with less equipment.

As with all new Honda cars sold in Australia since July 2021, the ZR-V is sold at fixed, non-negotiable prices no matter which showroom you buy from, with no extra-cost options (excluding accessories).

The ZR-V e:HEV LX’s most natural rival is Australia’s top-selling hybrid vehicle, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which in Cruiser front-wheel-drive (FWD) form is priced from $51,410 plus on-road costs.

On-road costs typically add about $3000 to $5000 to the price of a circa-$50,000 vehicle, depending on the government costs in the state or territory where it is registered. The Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid FWD costs $54,500 to $57,700 drive-away depending on state/territory, according to Toyota Australia’s online price calculator.

Other hybrid SUV rivals include the Nissan X-Trail ST-L e-Power all-wheel-drive (AWD) for $49,990 plus on-road costs, Subaru Forester Hybrid S AWD for $50,140 plus on-road costs, GWM Haval H6 Ultra Hybrid FWD for $45,990 drive-away, and the larger Honda CR-V e:HEV RS FWD for $59,900 drive-away.

The vehicles mentioned above are ‘regular’ hybrids that can travel no more than a few kilometres on electric power, but primarily combine petrol and electric power to improve efficiency and charge their batteries using the petrol engine, or energy captured when the vehicle decelerates.

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If you have the facilities to charge a plug-in hybrid – which have larger batteries capable of about 50km of electric driving, and are recharged externally – you could consider the MG HS Plus EV Essence ($52,690 drive-away) or Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV Aspire AWD ($51,240 plus on-roads).

Standard features of the ZR-V e:HEV LX include 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, a 9.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto and satellite navigation, a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, power-adjustable heated front seats, leather seat trim, 12-speaker Bose premium stereo, 11 airbags, and a suite of advanced safety technology.

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How much space does the Honda ZR-V hybrid have inside?

There’s a lot in common between the interior of the Honda ZR-V and other new-generation models in the Japanese car giant’s range.

That is a good thing, not a bad thing. The dials for the air conditioning and volume controls are beautifully weighted and finished – and are much easier to use than rival vehicles, which are increasingly placing these functions into touch-sensitive controls, or the infotainment touchscreen – and there are cool details, including the honeycomb-patterned air vents.

The front seats are comfortable and reasonably supported, trimmed in ‘leather-appointed’ upholstery – a mix of genuine leather and synthetic leather-look material – and offering power adjustment, heating and two-position memory. Ventilated seats would be a worthwhile addition for hot Australian summers.

The leather-trimmed steering wheel feels solid in the hand, with tilt and reach adjustment that – in combination with the seat adjustment, and memory – makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Storage space includes a large centre console box, two cupholders, a sunglasses holder on the roof, and a rubberised slot under the electric parking brake for wallets and loose items – though drive too quickly around a corner and they can fly out. The front door pockets and glovebox are on the smaller side for the class.

The ZR-V hybrid is differentiated inside by a push-button gear selector, which replaces a traditional stick-style gear shifter. It’s unusual at first but is easy to get used to, yet it has the same footprint on the centre console as the gear stick in cheaper models, so it doesn’t open up any more storage.

Front-seat amenities include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start (using a key fob or a smart keycard), one USB-A port, one USB-C port, 12-volt power socket and illuminated vanity mirrors.

There is also a wireless phone charging pad, but we found it wasn’t powerful enough to add or even hold charge on my iPhone while running navigation and Spotify music streaming.

Space in the rear is generous in terms of head room, knee room and foot room – even for me at 6ft (183cm) sitting behind my driving position – however, the floor is quite high, so taller passengers will find their knees ‘perched’ up off the seat base, which is not the most comfortable on a longer journey.

The cabin is wide enough for three passengers to travel in the rear, but the middle seat is not the widest and is quite firm. The door apertures are also narrow, and the doors don’t open to 85 or 90 degrees like some rivals.

Amenities in the rear include rear air vents, two USB-C ports, map pockets on both front seatbacks, bottle holders in the doors, and a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders.

There are three top-tether points and two ISOFIX points in the rear, but the centre top-tether point is in the roof, not the back of the seat. The centre seatbelt is also an unusual two-piece design, where the sash must be pulled down from the roof, clicked into a mounting point on the seat, and pulled across with its buckle to form the full lap-sash belt.

Boot space is rated at 370 litres behind the rear seats, 10L less than cheaper models in the ZR-V range due to the premium stereo’s subwoofer under the floor. It’s the smallest in the mid-size SUV class – excluding seven-seat models and plug-in hybrids with batteries under the boot floor – and is not as large as some small SUVs in the class below.

It is accessed through a power tailgate with a kick sensor. Features inside include a 60:40 split-folding rear-seat bench, 12-volt power outlet, a two-piece boot floor that can fold up to prevent items rolling around, and a net pocket.

Hybrid models delete the petrol’s space-saver spare wheel for a less versatile tyre repair kit for patching up smaller punctures.

2024 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX
Seats Five
Boot volume 370L seats up
1302L seats folded (to roof)
Length 4568mm
Width 1840mm
Height 1620mm
Wheelbase 2655mm

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Does the Honda ZR-V hybrid have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

Standard in all Honda ZR-Vs is a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. It lacks screen real estate compared to the 10- to 12-inch screens in rivals from Toyota, Kia, Nissan and Hyundai, but the icons are large, the graphics are sharp, and it’s simple to use.

It offers wireless Apple CarPlay – which worked well in our testing, though sometimes it took a few tries to connect – but only wired Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth, embedded satellite navigation, downloadable over-the-air software updates, and AM, FM and DAB digital radio.

Also included is a five-year subscription to Honda Connect, a smartphone app that allows the car to be remotely locked and unlocked, its cabin remotely cooled, location tracked, fuel level checked, and other internet-connected features.

The 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster is clear and bright, though it doesn’t offer much customisation beyond changing the information inside the simulated dials, and the colour of the background depending on the drive mode you’re in.

The 12-speaker Bose premium sound system in the VTi LX and e:HEV LX models is a worthwhile step up over the eight-speaker unbranded stereo in cheaper variants, delivering good punch even at full volume – without any distortion.

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Is the Honda ZR-V hybrid a safe car?

The Honda ZR-V is yet to receive a safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) at the time this review was published.

However, it recently received four stars from ANCAP’s European sister organisation, Euro NCAP. Although there is no guarantee the ANCAP rating will match the European score – as there may be differences in the vehicle’s safety specification depending on the market – it is likely given ANCAP and Euro NCAP have aligned nearly all of their test protocols since 2018.

The ZR-V earned 79 per cent in Adult Occupant Protection, and 68 per cent in Safety Assist technology – short of the respective scores of 80 per cent and 70 per cent it needed in each category to be eligible for five stars, as the overall rating is determined by a vehicle’s score in its lowest-performing category.

The Euro NCAP report said the ZR-V fell short in the side-impact crash test – noting a clash between the driver and front passenger’s heads, despite the fitment of a centre airbag – as well as a traffic sign recognition-based speed limiter that did not default to on when the vehicle was switched on, and a driver attention monitor that only functioned above speeds of 45km/h.

The ZR-V’s scores of 86 per cent for Child Occupant Protection, and 81 per cent for Vulnerable Road User Protection (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles) would have been enough for a five-star overall Euro NCAP rating.

2024 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX
ANCAP rating Unrated

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What safety technology does the Honda ZR-V hybrid have?

Standard advanced safety technology includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist, lane-centring assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, driver attention warning, auto high-beam headlights, and tyre pressure monitoring.

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard – unlike the two cheapest models in the range, the VTi X and VTi L – plus front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, and a 360-degree camera.

Honda fits 11 airbags, comprised of the usual six – dual frontal, front-side and head-protecting side curtains – plus a front-centre airbag claimed to prevent front occupants’ heads clashing in side-impact collisions, driver and front passenger knee airbags, rear-side airbags to protect outboard rear passengers’ torsos in side impacts, a rarity in this category.

The performance of the safety features was acceptable – and the systems were not intrusive or irritating in normal driving – although there is some room for improvement in how they operate.

There were no false activations of the AEB system, and the adaptive cruise-control technology worked well, though as with many similar systems it isn’t the quickest to react to the car in front pulling away from the traffic lights.

The lane-keep assist system wasn’t overzealous, but the way it would intervene was sometimes jerky, yanking the wheel a few times to pull the car back in its lane rather than smoothly applying steering. This is not something we noted in a ZR-V VTi L we tested a few months ago.

The lane-centring technology was more natural in how it kept the car within the lane, but it struggled on country roads without painted white lines to denote the edge of the road – and often on straighter roads did not detect the driver’s hands were still on the steering wheel, and flashed a warning asking them to apply some steering force.

One of our observations from the ZR-V VTi L we drove in Sydney earlier this year – that big bumps and potholes in the middle of a corner would knock the lane-centring assist off its line – was not experienced in this ZR-V e:HEV LX we tested in Melbourne and country Victoria.

How much does the Honda ZR-V hybrid cost to maintain?

The Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with five years of 24/7 roadside assistance.

Servicing is marked in the logbook every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. These intervals are shorter than the industry-standard 12-month/15,000km periods offered by Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and a number of other car makers.

Prices for the first five services are capped at $199 – among the cheapest in the class – which comes out to $995 over five years.

For context, five years of servicing for a Toyota RAV4 is quoted as $1300, across 75,000km due to its longer annual intervals.

However, when calculated to the Honda’s shorter 10,000km distance interval, the RAV4 owner would have paid $780 in 50,000km of driving, after completing the third service at the 45,000km mark. The Honda loses its servicing advantage for drivers who cover long distances.

The ZR-V hybrid costs $1647 to insure using our preferred online insurance quote calculator, based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

For context, a year of comprehensive insurance with the same leading provider – using the same parameters – is quoted as $1546 for a petrol ZR-V VTi LX, or $2254 for a Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid front-wheel drive.

At a glance 2024 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 10,000km
Servicing costs $597 (3 years)
$995 (5 years)

Is the Honda ZR-V hybrid fuel-efficient?

Honda claims fuel consumption of 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres – or 2.5L/100km in purely urban driving, and 6.5L/100km in solely extra-urban (highway and country) driving.

Over close to 600km of testing the trip computer settled on 6.7L/100km, or nearly 35 per cent higher than Honda’s claim.

However, it must be noted a fair portion of our testing comprised enthusiastic driving on winding country roads, when the engine was being worked harder, pushing up the fuel consumption average.

In city driving we saw fuel use in the 5.0 to 5.5L/100km range – dipping to 4.7 or 4.8L/100km at times, though still close to double Honda’s claim – while cruising on the open road we observed fuel use of between 4.5 and 5.7L/100km, depending on the speed, terrain and traffic.

The real-world fuel consumption result seen in the ZR-V is in line with Drive’s observations from previous tests of Toyota RAV4 Hybrids, the Honda’s closest rival and Australia’s top-selling hybrid car. It’s also about 40 per cent less than what we’ve observed in a petrol ZR-V.

Cross-checking the indicated fuel use with the petrol bowser found the trip computer to be accurate – or at worst one or two per cent optimistic (showing a fractionally lower fuel use figure than in reality).

The Honda ZR-V can run on regular unleaded petrol, and has a 57-litre fuel tank – translating to a highway driving range of 1000km to 1200km, based on our observations.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 5.0L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 6.7L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane regular unleaded
Fuel tank size 57L

What is the Honda ZR-V hybrid like to drive?

Powering the ZR-V e:HEV LX is a 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine and two electric motors, which combine to send 135kW and 315Nm to the front wheels.

While the outputs may seem modest for a 1.6-tonne car, it feels perkier off the mark than the petrol version, and there’s enough power for around-town duties and getting up to highway speeds.

Only in certain scenarios – asking for full power travelling up a hill at high speeds – does the driver want for more performance.

The car starts in electric mode, and off the line the ZR-V will use electric power only up to speeds of about 30km/h to 40km/h – or greater, if you are gentle on the accelerator pedal.

When the petrol engine kicks in, it’s not too raucous, and the hand-off between petrol and electric power is smooth and often hard to notice.

The suspension is soft over speed bumps – and feels tied down over undulating country roads – but it can transmit more of potholes, sharp edges in the road surface, and tram tracks than you may expect. It’s not uncomfortable, and is quick to get used to.

The steering is on the heavier side for a family SUV, but it is quick (about 2.5 turns lock to lock), direct and accurate. There are Normal, Sport and Econ modes to vary the steering wheel and throttle response.

The brakes feel confident in an emergency stop, though the transition from the regenerative braking of the electric motors and the regular disc brakes (or ‘friction brakes’) is not the smoothest we’ve experienced.

Visibility is good – with large side and rear windows, and windscreen pillars that don’t get in the way – and it’s easy to park thanks to the fleet of cameras on offer.

On a winding road, the ZR-V is a competent companion, with modest body roll – more than a hatchback, but less than would be expected for a large family SUV – and a sure-footed feel.

The metal shift paddles – which produce a nice click that’s more satisfying than some hot hatchbacks we’ve tested recently – switch between four intensity levels for the regenerative braking system, though we’d like an even more extreme mode closer to a ‘one-pedal’ driving function in an electric car.

On smooth surfaces and at lower speeds the cabin insulates noise from the outside reasonably well, but there is a fair amount of tyre roar on coarse-chip surfaces, plus some wind whistle from the mirrors at highway speeds. The LED headlights are sharp under low and high beams.

Key details 2024 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, two-motor hybrid system
Power 135kW combined
Torque 315Nm combined
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission ‘Electric’ CVT automatic
Power to weight ratio 85.1kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1586kg
Spare tyre type Tyre repair kit
Tow rating 750kg braked
700kg unbraked
Turning circle 11m

Should I buy a Honda ZR-V hybrid?

The Honda ZR-V is a good addition to the mid-size SUV class, which will suit buyers looking for something not too big and not too small – with respectable performance, a comfortable ride, relatively spacious cabin, easy-to-use technology, and affordable servicing costs.

There remain some shortcomings, including a high floor in the rear seats that reduces comfort for taller people, a small boot without a spare wheel, and the likelihood of a four-star safety rating in Australia.

Compared to the pure petrol model, the hybrid version is quieter and perkier to drive, and cuts fuel consumption by about 40 per cent.

However, the $6400 price difference between the petrol and hybrid models is more than double the $2500 gap between petrol and hybrid Toyota RAV4s – and may take up to 100,000km to pay back in fuel savings alone, by which time the ZR-V will have worked through its five low-priced services, and lost its advantage in ownership costs.

In short, the Honda ZR-V is a commendable option in this category – and a formidable rival to a Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-5 – but if you’re after the hybrid, be aware that the numbers may not stack up as you well as you might expect.

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How do I buy a Honda ZR-V hybrid – next steps?

As mentioned above, while the ZR-V hybrid cuts fuel consumption – and is nicer to drive – compared to the petrol version, it will take some time to earn its higher price back.

Therefore, we think the next model down – the $48,500 drive-away VTi LX – is the pick of the ZR-V range, as it has the same interior, features, safety technology and handling, and a good turbo petrol engine with respectable performance, but a much lower price.

At the time of writing in December 2023, the Honda Australia website lists an estimated wait time of two months for a new ZR-V e:HEV LX – down from four months earlier in the year. The current estimated wait time for the VTi LX is three months.

To contact a Honda dealer for more information on cars in stock, click here to find your nearest showroom. You can also find Honda vehicles for sale at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale.

To read our latest news on the Honda ZR-V since this review was published, click here.

Ratings Breakdown

2023 Honda ZR-V e:HEV LX Wagon

7.6/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

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Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon

This post was originally published on this site

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