Like CVT, which stands for continuously-variable transmission, PZEV is one of those acronyms floating around the auto world that mean nothing to most car buyers.
It stands for Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle, one of a number of arcane emissions brackets created by the very aggressive California Air Review Board (CARB) so carmakers could avoid having to build actual zero-emissions vehicles (e.g. electric cars).
A PZEV car is actually a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle, or SULEV, that has been further modified to eliminate evaporative emissions from the fuel system. It also has a longer warranty--15 years versus 10 years--on its emissions systems, though the mileage (150,000) limit stays the same over those 15 years.
During our recent first drive of the 2010 Subaru Outback, we learned that Subaru offers the PZEV option to every single buyer, even those outside California or one of the 10 other states that have adopted California emissions standards (as Canada has also done).
The PZEV rating is a $300 option, available only on most naturally aspirated 4-cylinder Subaru models. Specifically, you can order it on the 2010 Subaru Forester (2.5i with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic), the 2010 Subaru Outback (2.5i with six-speed manual or CVT), and the 2010 Subaru Legacy (2.5i with CVT only, since so few Legacies are sold with the six-speed manual).
We applaud Subaru for this step, and would be curious to know if any other carmakers do the same. Even if the take rate for the option is low, we think it's an admirable step toward helping car buyers be as green as they like.
2010 Subaru Outback