Honda Crosstour boldly goes in a new direction
summit daily auto writer
The sufficiently ballyhooed Honda Crosstour, 2010’s most innovative mass-market machine, ain’t quite as weird as it might seem at first glance.
Think of Honda’s overall approach to automobiles in the last few years, including genre-benders such as the Ridgeline almost-truck or the super-angular Element, and then consider some real head-scratchers, like the BMW X6, the similar but totally mechanically unrelated Acura ZDX or even the admittedly kinda-weird Subaru Outback.
In that light, the new Crosstour, while certainly striking in its unusual appearance, is the company’s relatively creative effort to bridge the world of four-door sedan and more utilitarian hatchback/wagon, a la … Outback. But not quite.
Oddly, while the Accord-based Crosstour sports a look that’s half Prius, half four-door-Euro-coupe, it’s not really all that much larger on the inside. The pop-up hatchback with its two-level glass reveals a space that, like the ZDX, gets you about 26 cubic feet of storage (or 51 if you drop the rear seats), meaning it’s not quite SUV in stature.
You do get a considerably more civil space for rear passengers than your average vehicle, including an almost theater-styled seating position and loads of foot room, but there’s no hidden third row, and the driver and passengers’ seating and arrangement is pure Accord.
Unlike the X6, that swoopy bodyline doesn’t result in pure roof claustrophobia in the back, though the angles and the back seat’s headrests mean you can only really clearly see out Crosstour’s flat, Prius/Aztek-styled bottom rear window when you have the back seats flattened.
A major plus is the addition of Honda’s real-time four-wheel-drive system, which genuinely puts it into Outback territory, especially for all us mountain staters.
Power comes from the 3.5-liter V6 shared across the line and the 271 horsepower gets the 4,070-pound machine going, though I did feel some shortcomings when trying to access that last blast of passing power while approaching the tunnel-on lowland stretches it goes like hell, though.
I haven’t been in a new Accord in years so I’m not sure if the Crosstour gains a huge weight penalty; suffice to say that the 4WD system will surely ground you in the winter months, but with non-performance summer tires the handling wasn’t exactly sporty.
And it’s also one of the last vehicles on the market not to sport a sequential, driver-adjustable automatic transmission; the five-speed auto needed to be clunked into an abrupt D3 lower gear to curtail the speed while heading down steep highway slopes.
Otherwise, it’s Honda perfect throughout, with fantastic leather quality on the seats, doors and console, and a few woodgrain surrounds added. The controls are a bit less insane than the information overload found in an Acura, though audio, navigation and AC rack up 34 different buttons.
Happily, the twisty knob joystick input controller does nearly everything and the voice-recognition navigation can handle many inputs in a more safe fashion, though it’s still rudimentary by comparison and does not offer live traffic or weather info.
XM satellite radio is, sadly, still pumped into a good-sounding, 360-watt, seven-speaker stereo system with a low-fi signal, a problem Acura seems to have addressed in its new vehicles.
So it really comes down to design and intent. If you’re the tastemaker on your block who doesn’t want to be caught dead in an SUV or one of those anonymous crossovers, the Crosstour might be just right.
2010 Honda Crosstour 4WD EX-L
Price as tested: $36,930
Powertrain: 271-HP 3.5-l V6, five-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel drive
Includes: Voice-recognition navigation, rearview camera, leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, 360-watt seven-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, XM radio, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, fog lights
EPA figures: 17 city, 25 highway
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