Browsing through the list of small MPVs in the Philippines may be a daunting challenge. Not because you have a multitude of choices, but because all the big players are making very compelling cars to buy. With reputation and quality on point with these big brands, it usually comes down to which dealer will call you back first, or offer you the best deal and financing plan.
Two offerings in the market today, the Mitsubishi Xpander and the Honda BR-V, are both rockstars in their own right. One is the popular kid on the block, while the other is that cool wallflower that is very interesting once you get to know him.
Both of these small MPVs do have ground clearance and updated styling. It’s a competition between Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield and Honda’s H Design languages. Styling is definitely subjective in this matter. Some people like robots, while others like Hs.
The Mitsubishi has an atypical front facia. While that may be a draw to some, it could steer others clear of it. The headlights are not in the normal position, rather, it’s embedded onto the bumper along with the turn signals. It’s definitely a combination of several boxes and edges that may appeal to a broad range of people, which is why the model is highly inquired for.
The BR-V is more traditional when it comes to its exterior styling. By no means does it look old, however. Honda uses styling cues that are tried and tested then extended the vehicle’s look thanks to a facelift. It’s a safe design because everything is where you expect it, and there aren’t too many over-the-top elements, nor are there overly proportioned panels. It’s a composed design.
The rear and side profiles are similar. They both have five doors and hoods, but the exterior of the Xpander is bigger, even if its proportions say otherwise. In our opinion, the BR-V is a safer choice when it comes to style. The Xpander is fine, but quirkier, which could turn some heads – for better or for worse.
The interiors of these two cars aren’t that far off from one another. The Xpander’s interior is a contrast to the quirky exterior. The design is very conservative, and not too memorable. It stays true to the name though, because of its bigger size, it features more passenger space and cargo volume.
Inside of a BR-V, Honda chose to make it more stylized and less conservative. There are many lines and elements that make up the dashboard. If you get the top of the line V variant, you’ll be greeted with a red leather-clad interior, which makes a world of difference.
With regard to the interiors, you have two polar opposites. The outside of the Xpander may be bold, but the interior is safe. The BR-V, on the other hand, has a conservative exterior, and a louder more stylized interior. We cannot deny that the BR-V makes a great case for itself while paired with is safe exterior styling and quality interior details as found on V variants.
You get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the Xpander, and it features your standard connectivity options, which include the all-important Bluetooth option. However, this seven-incher pales in comparison to the seven-inches of the BR-V that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A leg up that the Xpander has is cruise control. The BR-V doesn’t, but that’s not going to be too much of a problem if highway driving is not going to be a regular activity. To compensate, the BR-V comes with backup cameras as standard on all variants. For the Xpander however, you’ll have to go up a variant or two in order to get this feature. The BR-V also has speed-sensing door locks, a feature that is sadly omitted on the Xpander.
In terms of safety, these two vehicles in their top-of-the-line trim come equipped with the same safety features. You get the same number of airbags, and both have ABS with EBD.
There is a huge disparity when it comes to this element. The Honda BR-V beats the Xpander in this regard. Both engines have four-cylinders and 1.5L of displacement. Honda uses the same engine that it currently has in the Jazz, which produces 120 hp and 145 Nm of torque. The Mitsubishi has only 102 hp, but with 141 Nm of torque; comparable but still not more than the Honda.
The transmissions are also a night and day difference. Honda has been pioneering CVT technology into its cars for quite some time, and their BR-V is equipped with a unit. Meanwhile, the Xpander’s four-speed automatic transmission isn’t the most advanced, but it will get the job done. Perhaps an advantage to the Xpander is that it offers a manual transmission as an option.
The BR-V will be slightly livelier thanks to the small advantage in power and torque, but when it comes to fuel economy, the Honda also wins in this aspect thanks to its transmission choice.
The top-of-the-line variants of each of these models come at similar price points. In the case of the Xpander, it tops out at P1,175,000 for the GLS Sport AT. This variant comes with all the trimmings and features that Mitsubishi offers for the nameplate. The BR-V, meanwhile, tops out at P1,155,000 in its 1.5 V CVT variant, making it more affordable than the Xpander’s top of the line offering. But, the normal GLS variant of the Xpander does have the same features that the top of the line variant has for only P1,110,000, so that makes it more affordable than the range-topping BR-V.
Regardless, the BR-V with its Android Auto and leather interior makes for a better deal when shopping for a top-spec unit. The S variant at P1,035,000 is more comparable to the Xpander, but with some features which put it on par with Mitsubishi’s offering.
The S variant still seems like a good deal in comparison, but the Xpander’s space on offer will entice others, and its quirky styling may teeter them over the edge. Either way, the V CVT variant of the BR-V is a very compelling offer.