Text and Photos by Chris Van Hoven
Mention “seven-seater SUV” to the average Filipino motorist and what usually comes to mind are the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and the rest of their Pickup-based Passenger Vehicle (PPV) ilk. Honda, hoping to fill all the gaps in their line up, now has a seven-seater SUV of their own. Yet despite being touted as one, Honda’s bold claim, appropriately called the Bold Runabout Vehicle, stands in a class uniquely all its own. It doesn’t sit on a ladder frame, instead basing its platform on the Honda Brio, just like its stablemate, the Honda Mobilio. It’s easy to dismiss the BR-V as an upscale, larger Mobilio, but look a little closer and you’ll realize some details worth noting.
The BR-V certainly plays the part of the crossover SUV well. Its tough-looking façade beefs up the BR-V’s front end, while its flared wheel arches enhances its masculine stance. Adding to its SUV appeal are fully functional roof rails, and skid plates on both ends. Sure there are some MPV-ish details — such as the elongated rear overhang, the low roofline, and its elongated body, but the BR-V looks rugged enough overall to hang with the B-segment SUVs such as the Ford Ecosport and Nissan Juke.
Further solidifying the BR-V’s place in the mini-SUV segment is the fact that it has a higher ground clearance than the Ecosport, at 201 mm.
The interior of the BR-V is an amalgamation of characteristics from different Honda cars. You’ve got a steering wheel reminiscent of the eighth-generation civic, a large seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, the instrument cluster found in the City, and the center console of the Brio. It shouldn’t work but it does. The black motif works well, and despite the mixing and matching, everything is laid out in a way that makes it easy to understand, even for first-time drivers.
The driver’s seat itself is comfortable enough, though seat height can’t be adjusted. Nevertheless, all seats offer good support for all occupants, with ample legroom all the way back to the third row.
Despite the Brio’s short platform, there’s a surprising amount of luggage space even with the third row up. It’s more than enough for four or five duffel bags stacked and packed together. The third rows are capable of a 50/50-split fold and tumble for even more space, and the second row seats split 60/40 and fold down for when you want to supply neighboring villages with a year’s worth of food.
Good driving dynamics
Given the BR-V’s dimensions and people-moving potential, we didn’t expect much from the BR-V in terms of exciting driving, yet it held its own in true Honda fashion. We have yet to encounter a Honda vehicle that let us down in terms of driving excitement and handling characteristics, and the BR-V didn’t disappoint.
Of course, its dimensions aren’t ideal for slicing mountain roads, but that was never what the it was intended to do. Push it through corners and there will be understeer, though well within the limits of acceptance.
The BR-V’s 1.5-liter i-VTEC petrol engine with 120 hp, 145 Nm of torque is up to the task of ferrying seven passengers, though starts to struggle a bit on steep uphill climbs. Luckily the CVT transmission goes through its ratios intelligently, never allowing the engine to strain too much even on tough climbs. Bumps and road undulations are absorbed well, especially with a full complement of passengers.
The Honda BR-V starts at P989,000 for the 1.5S CVT model, while the top-of-the-line Navi CVT variant comes in at P1,119,000, providing unbelievable value for what you pay. Both variants come with vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, ABS with EBD, and driver and passenger SRS airbags. The Navi CVT variant gets extras in the form of a Smart Entry with Push Start system, Garmin-powered navigation, automatic climate control, power folding mirrors, paddle shifters, various chrome details, LED position lights and leather seats.
If you look at the playing field Honda wants to dominate (the B-segment mini SUVs), you’ll see that Honda offers much more for the money. Seven seats, high ground clearance, safety and convenience features all come together to make the Honda BR-V a car every family should consider in their garage.