With over 2,100 reservations and 700 units already in the hands of owners, the BR-V is fast becoming one of Honda Cars Philippines’s best-selling models. Already making a name for itself by being the country’s most affordable 7-seater SUV (or crossover if you prefer), the BR-V has touted its young and sporty design, family-oriented features, and unparalleled utility.
Recently, we put it through its paces, going on a 495-kilometer road trip from Isabela to Baler to Manila. With a route that combined tight mountain roads, long winding coastal highways, and of course, the inescapable EDSA traffic, here are 7 reasons why we think the Honda BR-V should be your next road trip vehicle.
#1: It Rides Well
You’d think Honda engineers simply jacked up the Mobilio MPV and called it a day, right? Apparently, that’s not the case. The BR-V features extensive tweaking to its undercarriage. It starts with the suspension geometry but goes so far as having unique body mounting points. These changes not only give it additional ground clearance (totaling to 201 millimeters), but also gives it flatter and more stable cornering characteristics along with a smoother ride. Understeer is noticeable, but that’s expected because of the BR-V’s requirement to ferry 7 people. If there’s one thing Honda should improve is controlling the excessive tire noise.
Often overlooked in the BR-V is the seats: they’re actually supportive and comfortable. You’d be mistaken to think Honda would simply plop in the Mobilio’s seats into the BR-V and be done with it. No sir. Not only does the BR-V offer adjustable headrests on all three rows (yes, including the front ones), but keeping in touch with the SUV’s more premium positioning, they’re better bolstered too. The leather on the V variant is also worth mentioning since they don’t look or feel out of place in a top-of-the-line Civic. The rest of the package remains the same with a sliding, reclining, and tumbling second row and a split-folding third row. Bummer though that there’s no height adjustable for the driver’s seat and that the third row is still latched and locked with a rudimentary hook.
#3: It’s Got All That Trunk Space
Unlike other “small” 7-seaters out there, even with the third row up, the BR-V can swallow a sizeable amount of cargo, probably good for 4-5 knapsacks. The 223-liter space then grows to a cavernous 691 liters with the third row folded—that’s bigger than Honda’s own CR-V (589 liters), Kia Sorento (660 liters), Mitsubishi Pajero (663 liters), and Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (621 liters). Not just a winner in terms of space, Honda engineers have also designed the BR-V with a low loading height making cargo loading and unloading far easier than any other 7-seater SUV in the market.
#4: Sized Right for Anywhere Driving
Compared to other 7-seater SUVs in the market which are, in a word, ginormous, the BR-V is perfectly proportioned for tackling two-lane provincial highways or mazes called Megaworld condo parking. The light steering and airy greenhouse makes it easy to slot in and out of crowded spaces, but the compact body size allows this 7-seater to turn in just 5.3 meters. This means going to downtown Binondo will never be a problem. Interestingly, parking sensors aren’t standard (bummer), but they are part of the Modulo package that adds snazzy LED daytime running lights and some aero kits.
#5: Built with Safety in Mind
With Honda marketing the BR-V to families, safety takes top priority. A recipient of a perfect 5-Star ASEAN NCAP score, the BR-V comes with dual SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, and ISOFIX child seat anchors. A big plus is putting in Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) as standard equipment (more on VSA). Normally reserved for more expensive vehicles, VSA helps keep the car in control during emergency handling situations. All this safety tech gives you road trip confidence whenever you’re bringing your most precious cargo: your family. A word of advice for Honda: give us four-wheel disc brakes next time. It’ll vastly improve the BR-V’s stopping performance.
#6: Commendable Power and Fuel Economy
While it’s ingrained in our minds that diesel power makes for a good road trip vehicle, the BR-V’s gasoline engine is no slouch either. The 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine under the hood makes 120 horsepower and 145 Nm of torque, easily outgunning its segment rivals. And get this: the BR-V has better power-to-weight ratio than both the Toyota Fortuner and Chevrolet Trailblazer! Sure, the Earth Dreams CVT will wind the engine up to get that power (it drones constantly at 4,000-5,000 rpm), but there’s no questioning its capabilities here (the V does have paddle shifters, so you can control the level of droning). On the flipside, the CVT does help in making the BR-V achieve close to 10 km/L in the city and around 15 km/L on the highway. With a 42-liter tank, road trips in excess of 600 kilometers without refueling are possible.
#7: There’s a Magic Button
This final reason is a bit shallow, but given that warm summer months are coming up, you’ll thank Honda engineers for it: the BR-V’s chilly air conditioner. Both the S and V variant get Manila-approved dual blowers, but the V ups it with automatic climate control. Whether it’s the automatic or manual system though, there’s a magical button labeled “Max Cool”. Pressing that overrides all existing A/C settings and delivers maximum cooling effort from the BR-V’s air conditioning system. After 15 minutes, it goes back to your previous setting. It might as well be labeled as the “balikbayan mute button” to quiet down rear passengers who continuously complain about Manila heat and you can do so with minimal distraction from driving!