2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L Review

Honda’s controversial crossover makes compromises easier to accept

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L Review

First off, let’s get something straight: Honda’s new Accord Crosstour is in no way like the Acura ZDX. Sure both vehicles have a similar silhouette, but that’s where the comparo ends. The Crosstour rides on the Accord platform, while the ZDX rides on the MDX crossover platform.

FAST FACTS

1. The Accord Crosstour is offered exclusively with a 271-hp V6 engine and comes as either a front-drive or AWD model.

2. Cargo room is rated at 25.7 cubic feet, and expands to a total of 51.3 cu.-ft.

3. Fuel economy is set at 18/27 mpg (city/hwy) for FWD and 17/25 mpg for AWD.

4. Pricing starts at $29,670 and tops out at $34,020, or more for models equipped with navigation.

But these two vehicles differ in a far more significant way, namely, that the ZDX fails miserably, while the Crosstour is an impressive piece of engineering worthy of the Honda badge – although it’s not without its drawbacks too.

Apart from those issues, we were surprised with how good it is. We say surprised, because it’s hard to love something this ugly. Sure, it’s not ugly from all angles (especially straight on thanks to a massive and powerful front grille), but overall it shares the same shoe-like design of the Porsche Panamera. (Who would have ever thought comparing a car’s design to a Porsche would be an insult)?

What makes the car’s design so disappointing is that its main competitor, the Toyota Venza, is quite handsome.

Its shape has also led to another flaw; rear visibility, with the rear hatch structure cutting a bar right cross your view out the back.

In many other ways, the Accord Crosstour is as good at hitting the mark in the mid-size crossover segment as the Accord is in the mid-size sedan segment.

NEAR-LUXURY INTERIOR

Open the door and you’re greeted with a familiar high-quality Honda interior, that reaches near luxury standards on EX-L trim models (like on our test car).

Standard features on all models include dual-zone climate control with second row vents, a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar control and 4-way power passenger seat, 360-watt 7-speaker audio system, cruise control, a moonroof, auto up/down driver and front passenger windows and steering wheel audio controls. Upgrading to the EX-L trim adds a leather coated steering wheel and shift knob as well as leather seats with heated front seats and memory driver’s seat, as well as memory mirrors, plus an auto dimming rearview mirror.

Sliding into the driver’s seat is just that – a slide. It’s not up or down, but exactly at the perfect height. You notice this the most when exiting the vehicle as it still has the commanding driving experience of a crossover, leaving you to expect a step down.

LESS CROSSOVER, MORE WAGON, MAKES FOR SPORTY DRIVE

That’s not to say the Crosstour handles like a truck. In fact, it’s still incredibly car-like. Sure, it’s not quite as capable a handler as the Accord, but as few sedans are, the Crosstour still delivers more driving enjoyment than a lot of 4-doors on the road. The larger 18-inch wheels on EX-L models also help with slightly lower profile tires, giving the car a more stable feel in the corners. It may be new, different and even a little weird, but the Crosstour is definitely a Honda when it comes to the driving experience.

The Crosstour comes with 6-inches of ground clearance, which isn’t going to give you any real off-road capability (neither is Honda’s part-time 4WD system), but that’s on purpose. Rather than the 8 or so inches of clearance the Venza offers, the Honda is characteristically lower and sportier. In fact, while it’s terribly un-cool to say so, the Crosstour is more wagon than a crossover.

A COMPROMISE ON CARGO

It even looks more like a wagon thanks to the elongated truck area. Pop the rear hatch and you will be treated to a long storage space that’s still high enough to deliver plenty of functionality. In total, however, cargo room is rated at 25.7 cubic feet, and expands to a total of 51.3 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded flat. That’s less than the competition and far less than the almost 73 cu.-ft. in the smaller CR-V.

In true Honda fashion, however, there’s more to functionality than just cubic feet and so the Crosstour offers an added 1.9 cu.-ft. in the form of a durable hard plastic “Hidden Removable Utility Box” that’s located just under the trunk floor and can be taken out and used to carry messier items.

In addition, Honda has also opted to include easily accessible handles next to the hatch opening on either side, that are used to drop the rear seats.

As for the rear seat area, it’s roughly as spacious as the sedan and unlike the ZDX you won’t have to remove your head to sit upright.

POTENT V6 COULD USE A SIX-SPEED

Power for the Crosstour comes exclusively from Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 with an impressive 271-hp and 254 ft-lbs of torque. It’s more than enough grunt and compliments the vehicle’s low (for a crossover) center of gravity, tight steering and responsive pedals to deliver a dynamic drive well beyond the capability of its competitors.

Honda’s Real-Time four-wheel drive setup does help to deliver excellent road-holding attributes as well, but don’t rely on it for serious traction. Much like how the ground clearance isn’t great for off-roading (not that you would with a Crosstour anyway), the Real-Time setup only delivers power to the rear wheels when the front ones loose grip.

The engine does come with Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that allows it to run on 3, 4 or 6 cylinders, which helps deliver good, but not great fuel economy. Honda rates the Crosstour at 18/27 mpg (city/highway) for the front-drive model and 17/25 mpg for AWD models – like with our tester. That’s less than the Venza at 20/28 and 18/25 mpg and for good reason – the Honda continues to use a 5-speed automatic, while 6-speeds are quickly becoming the industry norm.

NO 4-CYLINDER MEANS STARTING PRICE IS HIGH

This also brings to light one of our biggest gripes with the Crosstour – the lack of a 4-cylinder model. With Toyota offering a four-banger Venza, you’re able to not only get into one for many thousands less, but you’ll have significantly lower fuel bills as well. We’d agree that a 4-cylinder in a vehicle of this size will result in an underwhelming experience, but the V6 just seems like overkill.

As it stands, the Accord Crosstour is already a fair chunk pricier than its main competitor, starting at $29,670 for a base EX front-drive model and climbing to $34,020 for an all-wheel drive EX-L. A V6-equipped Venza starts a good bit less at $28,100, and adding AWD only brings the price to $29,950. But the Venza has far more to add on, and in a recent test our V6 AWD Venza came in at just over $35,000.

THE VERDICT

When we first saw the Crosstour we didn’t like the looks, yet we tried to be open-minded. After a week behind the wheel we have to admit to thoroughly enjoying the driving experience, typical of a Honda product – delivering a far more car-like feel than any of the other mid-size crossovers.

There is a drawback to Honda’s decision to design something more like a wagon than a crossover, however, with a lower and sloping rear meaning cargo room isn’t what it could be. In addition, that design makes for difficult rear visibility. Other drawbacks include the higher asking price, lack of a 4-cylinder and the fact that the V6 isn’t as good on fuel as it could be.

Still, the Crosstour is likely to find a home in many garages due to this Honda’s other strong points. The interior and the driving experience make you feel like you’ve spent thousands more on a luxury European model and for many the cargo room will be sufficient.

That being said, toss in a six-speed automatic and make a 4-cylinder model available and not only would we like it a lot more, we might get one for ourselves.

RELATED READING

2009 Toyota Venza Review 2009 Ford Edge 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD 2011 Kia Sorento: First Drive 2009 Nissan Murano 2010 Subaru Outback: First Drive 2008 Subaru Tribeca Review 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander 2009 Mazda CX-9 2009 Mazda CX-7 2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review 2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD Review 2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 Review 2009 Dodge Journey SE Review

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