New Honda ZR-V and Renault Austral versus Kia Sportage: interiors

High-riding and hybrid powered, these family SUVs couldn’t be trendier. But which is the hottest outfit?...

Honda ZR-V dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

If you’re considering a family SUV because you sometimes need to make long journeys, you’ll be pleased to learn that all three of our contenders have electric seat adjustment (including electrically adjustable lumbar support on the Renault Austral and Kia Sportage), making it quick and easy to find a suitable driving position. And because the Austral has a memory function, you can recall your preferred settings after someone else has been driving the car by simply pressing a button.

When you’ve finished fine-tuning everything, we found that the Sportage had the most supportive and, crucially, most comfortable seats of the trio; the Honda ZR-V is a little short on lumbar support and the Austral could do with more side support.

Renault Austral dashboard

Those after a lofty perch will be slightly better served by the Sportage than the Austral, both of which provide a good view ahead, but over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by chunky pillars and shallow rear windows in each. You sit lower in the ZR-V; you could almost be driving a tall family hatchback. It gives you a slightly better rearward view than the others, though.

All three cars provide front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera; the Sportage and Austral also benefit from a 360-degree parking camera.

Kia Sportage dashboard

And what about quality? All of our contenders have been specified in their respective range-topping trims, so you expect high standards, right? Well, from a visual standpoint, the Austral looks the most special, with its glossy black trim pieces, swathes of Alcantara, contrasting stitching and soft-touch finishes.

However, while the materials used in the Sportage and ZR-V look less flashy, they feel higher in quality, and their fit and finish are among the best in this class. Considering that these cars are designed to survive the rigours of family life, we suspect this is the more sensible design approach.

Infotainment systems

Honda ZR-V

Honda ZR-V touchscreen

At 9.0in, the ZR-V’s touchscreen is smaller than those of its rivals, but it’s dead easy to use, with handy physical shortcut keys close to the driver and a knob for some audio functions. That said, the screen isn’t all that sharp and the graphics look archaic. Elegance and Sport grades get an eight-speaker sound system as standard, but such is the level of road noise at a cruise that the more powerful 12-speaker system in top-spec Advance models is a welcome addition.

Renault Austral

Renault Austral touchscreen

We liked this Android-based system when we first tested it in the Renault Megane E-Tech, and it’s even better here. There’s more real estate on the 12.0in touchscreen for shortcuts and widgets, plus it’s easy to reach and operate from the driver’s seat. It may not be quite as snappy in its responses as the Sportage’s screen, but it’s fine considering the level of functionality on offer, including Google Maps (the native sat-nav system), Waze navigation and Google Assistant.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage touchscreen

The Sportage has the largest touchscreen here, at 12.3in; it’s slightly curved and well positioned so that it’s easy to see at a glance while driving. The graphics and colour contrast aren’t quite as rich as the Austral’s, but the screen is quicker to respond to inputs and the menus are simple to navigate. However, the eight-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system isn’t as punchy as the equivalents in the ZR-V and Austral, and the subwoofer in the boot is short on base.

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