The Honda BR-V is an entry-level, three-row seat, seven-seater vehicle. With a ground clearance of 201 mm, it rides 3 mm higher than even a Honda CR-V (even when fitted with all-wheel drive). At the same time, it’s only has front-wheel drive, with an elongated rear half that looks more like an MPV than an SUV.
So what is the Honda BR-V? Is it an MPV or an SUV? The simple answer is that it’s an SUV.
Honda Malaysia’s own marketing materials describe it as a crossover, which is just another way of describing a compact SUV with no off-road capability.
More importantly, the BR-V is taxed by the Malaysian Customs an SUV, meaning that it is taxed at 75 percent excise tax. MPVs get a cheaper 60 percent bracket. Honda Malaysia tried to convince the government that it’s an MPV, but to no avail.
If you have previously thought that the BR-V is an MPV, then it means Honda Malaysia's marketing people have done a great job. See, when the BR-V was launched in 2017, the Perodua Aruz didn't exist. The only other seven-seaters below RM 100,000, apart from Perodua Alza and Proton Exora, was the Toyota Avanza and Toyota Sienta, plus the ageing Nissan Grand Livina and previous generation Toyota Rush.
The BR-V was supposed to be a sportier alternative to buyers shopping in a segment dominated by MPVs. Of course, that has since changed now that the Perodua Aruz is here.
The answer to whether is the BR-V an SUV or an MPV becomes clearer if you spend enough time in Indonesia, the BR-V’s main market. For Indonesian consumers, the answer to the question is very obvious – the BR-V is an SUV. Why? Because for them, the Honda Mobilio (not sold here) is the MPV derivative of the BR-V.
Both the Honda Mobilio and Honda BR-V are related, sharing the same powertrain and basic body structure.
Fun fact: Under the metal panels, the Mobilio/BR-V shares the same mechanical parts and body structure with the Honda City and Jazz, up until the engine bulkhead. It also explains why the BR-V has a similar dashboard with the City/Jazz.
The lower ride height Honda Mobilio competes against the Toyota Avanza/Daihatsu Xenia twins, while the taller ride height Honda BR-V competes against the Toyota Rush/Daihatsu Terios (Perodua Aruz).
So there you have it, the Honda BR-V is an SUV.
Closer to home, Honda Malaysia was supposed to launch the facelifted, new 2020 Honda BR-V this month. Obviously that is no longer happening due to the MCO. The changes are very minor. Details on what's new here.
New or old, the BR-V is known for having the most comfortable ride, better than any of its peers. The Perodua Aruz also rides well enough, but only when it's loaded with more passengers.
However, the Aruz gains ground by having more safety features - 6 airbags, electronic stability constrol (VSC) with autonomous emergency braking (ASA 2.0) versus the BR-V's 2 airbags and electronic stabilty control.
Fuel consumption however, tips in favour of the BR-V. The BR-V also handles more like a car, so it handles a lot better.