2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L (car review)

The 2023 Honda ZR-V is the first new model from the Japanese car maker in two decades, so it is somewhat important. Now offered with a fixed price, the VTi-L we’re testing here hits the road at $43,200 drive away.

The VTi-L gets 18-inch alloys, leatherette heated front seats, a power tailgate and rear privacy glass, missing out on a few things like wireless phone charging and a 360-degree multi-view camera. Both of these are reserved for the VTi-LX.

Despite the fact we’d like to have seen this as a hybrid variant, we have come away impressed with the refinement of the tried and tested Honda 1.5-litre VTEC turbo engine, producing 131kW and 240Nm, mated to a CVT, and returning 7.6-litres/100km for us.

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Honda keep their engines in production for along time, and refinements upon refinements mean they end up extremely well developed. The case is no different in the ZR-V. Power delivery is linear, and for a CVT, the transmission is about as good as they get.

The front wheel drive ZR-V is smooth on take off and definitely zippy enough. Selecting Drive is easy thanks to an intuitive and normal, old school shifter, and there are alloy paddles behind the steering wheel as well.

2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L
2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L

Around town, the engine is brilliant. There’s plenty of punch for brisk lane changes and acceleration off the lights, and it’s pretty quiet as well. Out on the open highway, it will happily sit and cruise, handling bigger hills without fuss.

There are a few modes to choose from, with Sport mode available via the shifter, and an Eco button in the centre console. The former will hold revs longer, and allows for full manual operation of the paddles without auto take over.

The ZR-V in VTi-L spec has a near full safety package, with rear cross traffic alert and a 360-degree camera the only things missing. There’s a good multi angle reverse camera, and the usual assists we expect though, and they’re all pretty intuitive.

Ride on the 18-inch alloys (wrapped in 225/55 Yokohama ADVAN rubber) is smooth, with sharp road imperfections soaked up, while the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear offer a balance of comfort and support.

It’s softish at the back, but body roll is pretty minimal. The steering has a nice weight to it when driving a bit sporty, but is light around town and when parking thanks to the adaptive electric power steering.

front seats
Inside the 2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L

The brakes are ventilated discs up front, solid at the rear, and stopping power is ample. Inside, the driver’s seat is a nice place to be. There’s plenty of legroom for this 187cm driver, a comfy centre armrest, driver footrest, and well positioned gear selector.

An excellent leather wrapped wheel with just the right amount of tactile controls, and lots of manual adjustment also features. There are two USB ports (one A and one C) and a 12V outlet up front (there’s one in the cargo area too).

Two cup holders sit in the middle, with bottle holders in the doors, while the centre cubby and glovebox are decent sizes. What we really love though are the buttons. Yes, actual hard, tactile buttons and dials for the climate controls, and fundamental audio controls too.

There is also a hard home button on the 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and the vents are really easy to use and quick to adjust. There’s even a sunglasses holder.

The infotainment system comes with Android Auto (cable) and Apple CarPlay (wireless), Bluetooth audio streaming, DAB+ digital and AM/FM radio, and an 8-speaker sound setup. Out back, the kids were happy, with plenty of space.

infotainment
Inside the 2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L

There’s also two USB-C outlets, A/C vents, bottle holders in the doors and neat cup holders in the fold down centre armrest. There are two seat back pockets and two ISOFIX points (plus three tether anchor points).

Moving right back, boot space is a bit tight at 380-litres, with all the seats up. If you drop the second row you’ll manage 1,312-litres to the roof, or 870-litres to the window line. The spare wheel is a space saver. All windows are powered and have one press up and down.

Other neat features include a dimming rear view mirror, auto wipers, adaptive LED lighting, a third high LED taillight, and keyless entry with push-button start. The digital instrument cluster is great. It’s simple to read yet functional and at 10.2-inches, a good size.

It features an odometer, dual trip meters, instant and average fuel, driving range, engine oil life, average speed, elapsed time, ambient temp, two speed alarms, plus phone, audio and navigation.

Additional creature comforts that make the ZR-V VTi-L that little bit special are the LED map lights and front roof ambient lighting, a centre console light, shark fin aerial, the leatherette with fabric seat finish, and body colour matched door handles.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L

The external mirrors have built in LED indicators and a heating function, while they can also auto-fold. Both the driver and passenger also get illuminated vanity mirrors. An electronic park brake features, along with hill start assist and hill descent control.

There are child proof door locks, six airbags including side impact protection, parking sensors and an alarm, with walk away door locking as well. While there’s no ANCAP safety rating yet, we declare the first ever Honda ZR-V VTi-L a winner.

Its fit and finish is as good as it gets, the drive is refined and comfortable, and although the styling is polarising, we love it for that grille. You can build your own ZR-V on the Honda Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

It comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-years roadside assist and 5-years capped price servicing. In a kooky coincidence, it’s also available in five colours, including Premium Crystal Garnet Metallic and Premium Crystal Blue Metallic.

You can also opt for Platinum Grey Metallic, Platinum White Pearlescent (as tested) and Crystal Black Metallic.

instrument cluster
Inside the 2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L

Our 2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L was supplied by Honda Australia. To find out more, contact your local Honda dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
9.5
Exterior styling
7.5
Interior look and feel
9.5
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
9
Value for money
8.5

SUMMARY

Pros - It has actual buttons and dials for stuff; exceptional build quality; refined drive; economical.
Cons -no wireless charging; misses rear cross traffic alert; limited boot space; small infotainment screen.
Jeff Ware
Jeff Warehttp://www.bikereview.com.au
Jeff Ware has been an Australian motorcycle journalist and publisher since 2001. He was the founder of Rapid Bikes Magazine, Knee Down Magazine, and Retrobike Magazine and currently heads up the team over at BikeReview. He's not a bad car journo either.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> It has actual buttons and dials for stuff; exceptional build quality; refined drive; economical.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong>no wireless charging; misses rear cross traffic alert; limited boot space; small infotainment screen. 2023 Honda ZR-V VTi-L (car review)