Honda has always touted their BR-V as a seven-seater SUV; and while its claim as an SUV may raise some eyebrows, we recently took the new 2019 BR-V on a five-hour, nearly 400-kilometer drive from Manila to Bataan and back to discover that there’s plenty of “Sport” and “Utility” in this vehicle.
Refreshed for 2019, the new BR-V receives some subtle touches to its exterior and interior styling, as well as some important features that the previous model needed. The new front fascia and redesigned rear end certainly adds more credence to its SUV claim and makes the BR-V look the part. A new 16-inch alloy wheel design, an added shark fin antenna, and LED daytime running lights keep the BR-V’s look fresh, while enhancing its sporty, yet masculine appearance.
The drive to Anvaya Cove in Bataan proved to be an excellent display of what the BR-V is capable of, as we trudged through every road condition imaginable. We were able to fully utilize all of the BR-V’s 120 hp and 145 Nm of torque from its 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine through the long stretches of highway along the North-Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). We could easily overtake a variety of trucks, tricycles and buses when the need arose, even at speeds nearing 100 km/h.
When we started cutting through the mountain ranges and open fields of Bataan and Pampanga, we came across some light off-road terrain filled with thick mud from a previous downpour. The BR-V kept its composure well, with its traction control system activating when needed to provide just enough grip to get by. Its ride height of 201mm also proved handy in avoiding rocks and other obstacles that had fallen on the road from a recent landslide. When muddy roads turned into a series of tight corners, the rain was pouring hard once again, and the BR-V handled the twists and turns nicely, even in the wet. While its continuously variable transmission had a tendency to drone at high RPMs (which we’ve come to expect from all CVTs), the ability to manually select gears on the top-specced V variant via paddle shifters was a welcome touch. And the CV transmission helped in fuel economy as well, allowing us to record 12.5 kilometers at the end of our journey.
The trip was made more comfortable (and safer) thanks to some improvements to this year’s model. Both variants now get a reverse camera connected to its seven-inch touchscreen. The 1.5 V CVT variant also gets the addition of Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity which is a welcome addition. A variety of safety features such as Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, ABS, and EBD all contribute to the BR-V’s five-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating, and all came into play one way or another during our out of town excursion.
With its seven-seater capabilities, ample leg room at the first two rows, generous cargo space, and the most powerful engine in its class, the Honda BR-V has already proven to be a great success in the local market, being Honda’s second best-selling model. Despite an increasingly crowded segment, the new additions to the BR-V’s arsenal only serve to improve it further, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a car for their next out-of-town getaway adventure.
Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven