Seven-seat MPVs and crossover SUVs are quite popular in this country because most Filipinos love to take everyone and the kitchen sink on road trips. But the promise of seven seats almost always means that seven full-grown adults find themselves jostling for space inside a cramped cabin—and that includes a cargo area that is anything but usable. But Honda wants to prove otherwise with its BR-V, whose seven seats are seven actual seats.
One look at the BR-V’s compact dimensions might make you think the Japanese automaker isn’t telling the truth when it comes to its vehicle’s advertised seating capacity. But because the vehicle is built as a unibody, there is no bulky ladder frame that raises the floor height and robs passengers of precious legroom. Settling down in each of its three rows never feels like punishment for being naughty. Thanks to a sliding mechanism built into the second-row bench, rearmost passengers are sure to get ample wiggle room.
But the versatility doesn’t end there. Another benefit of the BR-Vs monocoque frame is that the freed-up space extends to the generously sized cargo area. With all three rows of seats upright, up to 223L of stuff can still be squeezed in at the back. That should be good for a couple of overnight bags or even a wheelchair. Stow the third-row seats and the figure more than doubles to 521L.
All this talk of space for seven and their stuff will be for naught if the BR-V struggles to move all that mass. Fortunately, Honda’s family hauler does have the muscle courtesy of the 1.5-liter four-cylinder Earth Dreams engine under its hood. Fitted with Honda’s i-VTEC technology, this engine packs quite a punch with 118hp and 145Nm. The continuously variable transmission intelligently balances power requirements for performance or economical driving.
The BR-V isn’t simply a transporter for the gang. It’s got style, too. Large 16-inch alloy wheels give it road presence and ground clearance to tackle floods. The front and rear bumpers have gills that give the car a sporty look. Inspired by the Odyssey and the Mobilio, the classy kink on the side window makes for a unique profile that sets this Honda apart from other people-carriers in the parking lot.
This ride is also loaded. All variants get a large seven-inch touch-sensitive display with Bluetooth connectivity. The audio system delivers crisp tunes, and a backing-up camera makes it easier to maneuver and park in tight spaces. While the base S grade gets fabric seats, the premium V variant ups the ante with a black leather interior with contrasting red stitching, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration, automatic climate control, and a push-start button.
All BR-Vs come with a host of safety tech. The impact-absorbing G-Con body structure becomes the base that makes the vehicle a safe cocoon for anyone inside. Electronic driver assists come in the form of antilock brakes and electronic stability control, allowing drivers to confidently tackle slippery conditions. Front airbags are standard.
Having seven seats doesn’t always mean miserable motoring—certainly not with the Honda BR-V. It might just be the right balance between a cramped family hatchback and a bulky pickup-based SUV: It boasts the best of both vehicles and puts it all together into a neat and tidy package. With prices starting at a reasonable P1,035,000, the BR-V is quite possibly the sweetest deal for a family car you can get right now.
This branded article was produced in partnership with Honda Cars Philippines Inc.