Honda BR-V S – still putting up a fight

The best-selling car last year might be a sedan, but 7-seater MPVs are not far off from that throne. It’s undoubtedly a hot commodity which is why manufacturers refresh and update their models as much as they can, like two Japanese brands did this year.

Honda is also in this MPV arena but they’ve prioritized other cars in their lineup. This left the BR-V, their sole offering in the segment, relatively outdated now. Does that mean it’s not a contender anymore? Just like Randy Couture slugging it out in the UFC in his 40s, the BR-V denies its fate and refuses to be done. I tried the base model BR-V S to see how it fares in 2022.

What can’t be denied is the aging exterior design of the BR-V. It gives away the age of this MPV like wrinkles on your manager. The front grille has a thick serving of chrome while the thick cladding on the wheel arches goes against the low ground clearance of the car. No doubt it needs help in the aesthetic department.

Inside, the dashboard can still pull off a contemporary appeal only hindered by the shifter housing that looks generic. But all else – the gauge cluster, steering wheel, and touchscreen – are still alright for 2022. Only when you swipe on the touchscreen and realize that there’s no Apple or Android capability will you remember that the BR-V is an old soul already.

There’s adequate space from the get-go in the cabin. The low center console up front leads to more space for the passengers while the second and third rows have enough space for their occupants. The exterior shape is not everyone’s cup of tea but it leads to adequate headroom and legroom in all seats, without too much compromise on the cargo area.

Where the Honda still leads the segment is in power. When it was originally launched in 2016, the BR-V was the most powerful in its class with 120 horsepower and 145 Nm of torque. This was paired to a CVT that allowed it to achieve fuel efficiency numbers of 22.58 km/l which is pretty outstanding for its segment that relied on 4-speed automatics back then. But even today where its rivals have been updated, the BR-V is still the most powerful and fuel efficient, something you can’t always say for a 6-year old car battling new releases.

It’s not just numbers too. The BR-V is a very smooth car to drive in and out of the city. There’s no sudden jolts in low speed traffic and the engine is good enough for highway cruising. It’s really great how Honda got the powertrain right for the BR-V that they can pretty much experiment with everything else.

That power is complemented nicely with the ride quality of the BR-V. It’s very tolerant towards common road imperfection and not jarring when you miss potholes and those sudden drops from removed asphalt. Add to that the good NVH of the cabin that blocks outside noise effectively and it makes the BR-V a great everyday ride in and out of the city.

The Honda BR-V stays competitive despite being old enough for elementary schooling. Its only real rival right now is the economy because it caused a price increase for this MPV that now comes in at P1,058,000. Still, at that price, the BR-V remains formidable thanks to its powertrain that is still unbeatable for its class, quiet cabin, and stellar ride comfort. Other MPVs might be more good-looking and feature-packed, but the BR-V’s core qualities are enough to put it in your list of considerations.

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