Cars > Driven

Honda BR-V 1.5 S CVT: From a mother’s perspective

Our resident mommy compares it to her previous-generation model

The author compares the latest-generation BR-V to her current BR-V. PHOTO BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

By now, you probably know about the technicalities of the latest Honda BR-V. I am not here to add to that easily searchable information. I am here to show you how the experience was for me in using this car as my family hauler for a week, all in practical, easily digestible terms.

This review, then, is for:

  1. Someone looking for a no-fuss daily car.
  2. A parent whose daily life is a production number with kids.
  3. Someone who already owns an older generation BR-V and is considering upgrading.
  4. Someone who is curious to see what the third row of this MPV is really like.

For context, prior to this opportunity to test-drive the second-generation BR-V, my family already owned the first-generation S variant (the second most affordable variant at that time). We bought it in December 2018, a few months before Honda released a facelift in 2019.

She also happens to own the equivalent last-generation S variant. PHOTO BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

When my husband and I were shopping for a seven-seater about five years ago, the boxes we needed to tick off were the following:

  1. Must be budget-friendly. Having just spent on major home renovations at that time, we decided we could only set aside a little over a million pesos for a new family vehicle.
  2. Must fit all household members plus some luggage. There was no way my husband would be caught driving a van. Plus, parking is very tight in our condo so we looked at MPV options.
  3. Must give us space without looking too much like a “mom mobile.”

My first impression of the 2023 upgrade: Not bad at all.

The new BR-V is one fine-looking specimen. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

Driving this latest version of the BR-V felt like I commanded a bit more respect on the road as it’s bigger and wider, but without being overbearing. It also felt safer, especially with my whole family in it. As a whole, I saw it as a reflection of what every modern parent wants to achieve in his or her daily madness: to be an approachable authority.

The height difference is noticeable right away. PHOTO BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

Have I mentioned that it also rides higher at 207mm (compared to the previous generation’s 201mm)? The difference is not something I felt right away, but once I got behind the wheel, it felt more like driving an SUV than an MPV. For this class, that is always a good thing. A welcome change considering Metro Manila frequently gets flooded from random rainfalls throughout the year.

The dashboard of the newest BR-V is more upscale-looking. PHOTOS BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

The steering wheel is delightfully a lot lighter than our own car’s, but it may be because of the almost five-year age difference. For some reason, the throttle response is not as punchy compared to our first-generation BR-V. But still, the newest one is a very easy drive, which is what you should be looking for if you want a simple daily driver.

Despite the larger dimensions, it is a very easy car to drive around the city. PHOTOS BY TOBY TAN

Now, let’s talk about space. The latest BR-V is 34mm longer, 45mm wider, and 8mm taller than our family’s 2018 model. I instantly felt the difference when I first sat in the driver’s seat.

It's roomy until you have to fit two child seats in the middle row. PHOTOS BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

As you can see in the photos, this seven-seater becomes a six-seater if you have two child car seats. The 45mm difference in width is simply not enough to lend you another seat in the second row given the bulk of these seats.

So, if you are in the market for a seven-seater, do consider how many child seats you will have as fixtures inside your car if you have a family like mine.

Bikes, diaper bags, groceries, and more. With a little space-planning, you can actually fit all in one go, especially if the third row is flat. PHOTOS BY HAZEL IMPERIAL-TAN AND SAM SURLA

Ah, the contentious third row in vehicles that are not vans, but claim to have the ability to seat seven people at a time.

I once sat in the third row of a pickup-based SUV about eight years back, and I felt like a giant. Well, I am 5’7”. The way my legs were jammed up made me feel like an unusually tall person. Needless to say, I could not wait to get out and feel like myself again.

While knees touch the back of the second row, the third row can comfortably fit two tall adults laterally. PHOTOS BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

So, how does the BR-V fare in the third-row game?

It is definitely not the best seat in the house, but it isn’t so bad either. The most important qualification for me was to not feel like I was back in the third row of the pickup-based SUV I mentioned, and I am eager to report that I didn’t.

All the modern conveniences you normally find in today's vehicles are here. PHOTOS BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC AND SAM SURLA

Comparing the 2018 S and the 2023 S, I would say that everything else feels pretty much the same, except that the 2023 version has a few more goodies like height adjustment for the driver seat, and a few tech upgrades (such as a reversing camera, remote engine start, and speed sensing locks), all of which I do not mind as I like to keep things simple and straightforward when it comes to driving.

The author prefers her cars to have a little more bling. PHOTO BY DUSTIN DAGAMAC

One more thing I noticed is that the newer BR-V variant has fewer chrome details on the front fascia. I like chrome, and it has always made me feel like our S variant is not a bottom-level variant, as chrome is usually present in top-of-the-line trims in general. But that’s just my preference.

The BR-V may not be as gutsy as its predecessor, but it's very fuel-efficient. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

To return to my preemptive summary at the beginning of this review, the latest BR-V is:

  1. Built and designed for a fuss-free daily drive.
  2. It’s not a gas-guzzler, and it parks like a sedan.
  3. It may not be as responsive as the previous generation in my experience, but it is still torquey enough to allow you to overtake those who do not respect the minimum speed on EDSA. Plus, it should give you enough confidence to climb up unexpected hills both in-town and out-of-town.
  4. Spacious enough for a family of four and then some. More space equals less stress!
  5. An upgrade from my almost five-year-old version. An upgrade on all relevant aspects.
  6. Not bad as far as the third row is concerned. Third-row anxiety is manageable in this upgraded version.
The verdict? It's perfect for budding families that can afford it. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

The all-new BR-V is a solid choice for an MPV, especially at P1.15 million for the 1.5 S CVT variant I just reviewed. If my kids didn’t grow up and we didn’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on tuition fees, you would see us upgrading to this latest version faster than my kids could scream “MOMMY!”—which they do every five minutes, mind you.


Engine1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo gasoline
Power119hp @ 6,600rpm
Torque145Nm @ 4,300rpm
Dimensions4,490mm x 1,780mm x 1,685mm
Drive layoutFWD
UpsideDrives more like an SUV than an MPV, and also looks like one. Price is attainable for a starting family, and space is enough for one.
DownsideBe ready to pay the higher-than-average price for Honda parts replacement.

Hazel Imperial-Tan

Hazel is the marketing and sales director of VISOR. Prior to joining our team, she had spent a good number of years in brand management. She’s a doting mother to two boys who, perhaps by inevitable fate, happen to like cars a lot.