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Refreshed 7-seater perfect for the budget-conscious

New Honda BR-V 1.5 S CVT

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Numerous times, I’ve been asked by friends with small families which of the two is the better option, Mobilio or BR-V.

I can understand the dilemma. Both are seven-seaters with SUV-type features like high ground clearance, a spacious interior, large cargo space, among others.

If you have that same burning question in your mind, read on as I detail the entry-level Honda BR-V 1.5 S CVT priced at Php 1.035 million.

To be perfectly honest, I somehow prefer the more understated lines and exterior of the Mobilio.

The looks of the BR-V are slightly different. While some panels are shared with the Mobilio, the front and rear quarter panels, including the front and rear bumpers, have deeper, more expressive lines, which makes the entire exterior design more pronounced. To enhance its claim as a Bold Runabout Vehicle (BR-V), it even has roof rails and built-in wheel well guards.

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As it uses an extended version of the Brio/Amaze platform, the interior is almost just as bare and with just the very basics, it helps make the cabin feel large.

There’s the high ceiling and the absence of a center console that adds more head and elbow room, but I’d personally prefer to have a little storage area in the middle.

Seats are comfortable but with a flatter, less snug design — kind of a one-size-fits-all feel when it comes in fabric.

Dashboard and interior panels are plastic but tastefully done. Edges fit perfectly with one another and its design mimics the exterior lines, which shows this wasn’t just put together hastily.

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Its centerpiece is the seven-inch touchscreen (it doesn’t come with a GPS system like the top trim). There’s a USB port now, plus the option to connect via Bluetooth. Compared to the previous model, Bluetooth pairing is much easier now and can be done in one go.

The infotainment’s interface is very easy to use, with large icons and a very responsive surface. Everything can be accessed while driving except for Settings, which you have to be on Park with handbrake engaged for. Audio controls come standard on the steering wheel.

The aircon is efficient. Even without using the rear A/C, it was able to cool the cabin (granted I was alone in the vehicle), which is better than some sedans I’ve driven.

Like most seven-seaters, roominess goes down the further back you go. It would be best for kids to occupy the third row as leg room might not be comfortable enough for adults.

It uses a 1.5L four-cylinder petrol engine with 120 PS and 145 Nm of torque sent to Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This is probably the best engine-transmission combo in the segment right now. The power may not appear like much on paper but it is able to stay right in the power band all the time with the CVT. The result is on-demand power delivery — not race car-level — but great enough for overtaking, and smooth, enjoyable driving from zero all the way to top speed. Overall fuel consumption is a solid 9 kilometers per liter and that’s mostly city driving.

Aside from Drive, the gearbox has Sport for a more enhanced drive (higher RPMs, more response), and Low for those steep climbs or descents.

The drive is comfortable, befitting its crossover status but noise, vibration and harshness levels could be better. It handles bumps and road imperfections with very minimal bounce but I felt some of the road roughness come up through the suspension.

While it has high ground clearance, Honda has left the floor lower than most crossovers, which means it has a lower center of gravity. That makes its profile look a lot better, but its real impact is on handling around corners and at high speeds. Turning feels stable and the suspension does a great job of keeping the wheels grounded around long bends.

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Assuming ‘singles’ would prefer the sportier but smaller HR-V, dads/moms can’t go wrong with this unit. Even if you have one kid, parents know the amount of carry-ons you’ll need even for just an overnight trip. Space for luggage and passengers will not be a problem for a small family. It is very fuel efficient for its size, so that’s money in your pocket that can be used for other things like family trips or just dining out.

If you’re moving up from a small sedan for your growing family but are budget-conscious, the Honda BR-V 1.5 S CVT is definitely a seven-seater worth considering.

Text and photos by Eric Tipan

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