COTY class winner 2023: Honda ZR-V is the best Medium SUV of the year

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ZR-V represents a whole new start for Honda SUVs.

ZR-V represents a whole new start for Honda SUVs.

After a pretty quiet time, Honda has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance in recent years, with the likes of the new Jazz and Civic.

And of course the all-new ZR-V, which is undoubtedly the most significant of the new lineup because it’s a medium SUV: the most popular single new-vehicle segment in NZ.

Honda ZR-V, best Medium SUV, COTY 2023.
ZR-V buyer bases covered with petrol-turbo and clever e:HEV hybrid.

Slightly larger than the HR-V (which has been discontinued for now, although there’s a new version overseas) and slightly smaller than the new CR-V, the ZR-V really is a whole new thing for the NZ market.

We love the handsome looks, great built quality and technology, but what has really grabbed us is the application of Honda’s e:HEV hybrid technology – as used in the Jazz hatch, but with more power for this family vehicle.

Honda still offers a traditional petrol-turbo powertrain in the entry Turbo model, but the flagship Sport really ramps up the technology and fuel economy. The 2.0-litre engine acts as a generator, making electricity for the electric motors to power the wheel. Sounds complex, but it’s actually delightfully simple in practice.

It’s ultra-efficient in town, yet still offers a spirited driving experience on the open road thanks to a “stepped” continuously variable transmission.

It’s a truly high-tech vehicle, with other new-to-Honda features including connected-car services (via a mobile phone app) that include climate pre-conditioning, service alerts and auto collision detect that can automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident.

Runners Up: Mazda CX-60, Tesla Model Y

ENGINE: 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four or 2.0-litre petrol with dual-motor hybrid system
POWER: 131kW/240Nm (1.5) or 104kW/182Nm (2.0) plus 135kW/315Nm (electric)
GEARBOX: Continuously variable, FWD
CONSUMPTION: 5.5-7.2l/100km
PRICE: $47,000-$55,000

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