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2020 Honda BR-V: Underrated Overachiever

As Honda Cars Philippines (HCPI) celebrates their 30th anniversary this month of October, we got to drive a Honda BR-V, the company’s 7-seat compact crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV). The abbreviation BR-V stands for Bold Runabout Vehicle, which Honda designed specifically for the Asian market to satisfy the demands for an affordable SUV that has a sleek design, high ground clearance, and the space for seven passengers and their valuables.

Developed by the Honda Research and Development (R&D) Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. in Thailand, the BR-V was unveiled as a prototype at the 23rd Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show in 2015 and has been in production since 2016. It shares its platform with the Mobilio, which is based on the lengthened Brio platform. The BR-V is sold in Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, and of course, here in the Philippines.

Honda BR-V prototype at the 23rd Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show 2015

Refreshed in 2019, Celebrates HCPI’s 30th in 2020

HCPI currently offers the BR-V in three variants: the P1,035,000 1.5 S CVT, the P1,075,000 1.5 Prestige CVT, and our test vehicle, the top-of-the-line P1,115,000 1.5 V CVT. All three variants are powered by the 1.5-liter inline-4 engine with single overhead camshaft (SOHC), 4 valves per cylinder (16V), and Honda’s trademark i-VTEC, or intelligent variable valve timing with electronic control, and PGM-FI, or programmed electronic fuel injection.

Since the BR-V underwent a facelift and update in 2019, there are no changes for the current model. Thus, the driving impressions we had with our 2019 BR-V 1.5 V CVT test unit will be what most customers will experience if they acquire a 2020 BR-V, with the exception that they’ll probably get a substantial discount, and get a chance to win a Honda Brio, an IPhone 11, an IPad Air, and other prizes, plus get exclusive HCPI 30th Anniversary freebies.

Fully Loaded and Priced Right

Customers who will plunk down P1,155,000 for a 2020 Honda BR-V 1.5 V CVT will get the same sleek design, high ground clearance and space for seven passengers in three rows as the prototype that debuted in Indonesia in 2015. In addition, they’ll get LED daytime running lights (DRL), bumper skid garnish, chrome side garnish, 16-inch 10-spoke two-tone alloy wheels shod with 195/60R16 Bridgestone Ecopia tires, shark fin antenna, and power-folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals.

A Smart Entry system gets you inside, where you’ll find the push button start/stop switch at the left side of the instrument panel, like where you would slot the ignition key of a Porsche. Behind the steering wheel resides the paddle shifters for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) with Earth Dreams Technology. Entertainment comes from a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cooling from an automatic climate control system, and seating courtesy of leather seats with red trim.

Highway Flyer with a Conscience

You can feel Honda’s vast racing experience incorporated into the BR-V’s DNA. The Drive-by-Wire (DbW) throttle is very responsive and the engine can rev aggressively up to nearly 7,000 rpm. The rack and pinion steering gives accurate feedback even though it is assisted by an electric motor (EPS). The sporty steering wheel is wrapped in leather with red stitching while the controls for the infotainment system are located within your thumb’s reach.

On the expressways, the BR-V is a highway flyer with a conscience. It can hit the speed limit quite quickly, slip through the air with its sleek aerodynamic shape, and keep up with sporty vehicles that cost twice as much. Yet, HCPI claims that it’s an economical crossover with a fuel mileage rating of 22.58 kilometers per liter (km/l). During our weeklong mixed city and highway drive, we were able to record an average of 9.3 km/l, which is quite amazing considering the heavy crawling traffic that we are usually subjected to.

Real Safety and Utility in a Compact SUV

Like most 3-row SUVs, the BR-V seats seven passengers but provides them with 4 bottle holders and 5 cup holder, cools them with rear air-conditioning vents with independent controls, and keeps them safe with dual SRS airbags in front and 3-point seatbelts with emergency locking retractors (ELR) for each passenger. There’s even an ISOFIX child seat anchor for keeping the very young ones safe and secure.

What differentiates the BR-V from other compact SUVs is its flexible seating. Like other SUVs, the front seats, which have seatback pockets, slide and recline but unlike others, the 60/40 split seats on the second row slide, recline, fold and tumble to provide extra cargo-carrying capacity and provide easier access to the 50:50 seats on the third row that recline, fold and tumble. There’s even space for a full size spare tire with a steel rim.

Driver-Oriented Crossover

The BR-V comes with Honda’s G-Force Control (GCON) body structure that envelops the occupants with crash protection. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), vehicle stability assist (VSA), hill start assist (HSA), and a reverse camera with guidelines and parking sensors work together to ensure that the GCON does not get to do its work. Meanwhile, a built-in security alarm and immobilizer ensures that the BR-V stays where it’s supposed to.

Records show the BR-V became Honda’s second best-selling model in Indonesia for 2016 and sold more than 12,000 units six months after its launch in Malaysia in 2017. It was previewed at the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) in September 2016 and went on sale in December 2016 to enthusiastic customers.

Despite its abundance of features, incredible utility, and sterling sales performance, the BR-V seems to lack the appreciation and the patronage it rightfully deserves. That’s why we think that it is an underrated overachiever. Lucky are those loyal Honda customers who recognize the BR-V for what it’s worth.


Price: P1,155,000.00

Classification: 5-door subcompact SUV

Engine type: Liquid-cooled inline-4 SOHC i-VTEC 16V

Capacity: 1497 cc

Maximum power: 118 hp (120 PS) @ 6600 rpm

Maximum torque: 145 Nm @ 4600 rpm

Transmission:    CVT with Earth Dreams Technology

Suspension: Front MacPherson struts, rear torsion beam

Brakes: Front ventilated discs, rear drums

Length: 4453 mm

Width:  1735 mm

Height: 1666 mm

Wheelbase: 2662 mm

Ground clearance: 201 mm

Curb weight: 1240 kg

Turning radius: 5.6 m

Fuel tank capacity: 50 liters

Seating Capacity: 7 persons

Cargo Capacity:  223 liters (3rd row up); 470 liters (3rd row folded); 521 liters (2nd row tumbled)


Contact Details

Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI)

30/F, The Trade & Financial Tower, 7th Avenue corner 32nd Street,

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 1634 Philippines

Tel: (632) 857-7200 to 19 / 1-800-1000-HONDA / 857-7240

Fax: (632) 857-7288