2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L AWD Review
By Chris Haak
When first shown to the public in photos, the Honda Accord Crosstour seemed to fall flat on its face. Critics (and people on Facebook) just savaged the Crosstour as ugly, bloated, the answer to the question that nobody asked, another example of Honda’s bungled styling direction, and more. But under the controversial skin, the Crosstour is at the core just an all wheel drive Honda Accord V6 hatchback with a slightly taller body. We at Techshake were eager to find out if the Accord’s fundamental goodness could still shine through a heavier, taller crossover body. And, lest we forget, the current-generation Accord is nowhere near a design benchmark in its own right.
Upon telling a colleague that I was taking my family on a roadtrip in the Crosstour, he warned that I’d be getting a lot of “looks” if I do. He was right – and we also had people strike up conversation with us at the grocery store about the car, which is unusual. Of all the cars I’ve reviewed – many of which have gone to the grocery store – I have only been asked about the car I’m driving once or twice. The last time I remember it happening, I was driving an orange Dodge Challenger SRT8. On the turnpike in the middle of the aforementioned road trip, I noticed a number of other cars slowing down so their occupants could take in my ride. Whether that’s a good thing, bad thing, or just due to their unfamiliarity with the Crosstour, I’m not certain, but it’s absolutely something that I observed. The Crosstour is something of a rare animal at this point so soon after its launch; I’ve seen one or two featured at the local Honda dealer (mistaking the first one I saw for a Ford Taurus initially), and many members of the public may not be aware that there is a Honda Accord other than the regular coupe and sedan.
One day as I prepared to head home from the office, I noticed that there was a current-generation Accord coupe parked right next to the Crosstour. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better way to compare two variants of the Accord. Visually, the Crosstour appears to be only moderately longer than the coupe, but is substantially taller at all points – including the hood. The tall hood is exactly the reason that I mistook that first “in the wild” Crosstour sighting for a Taurus – another car with an extremely high beltline. Quantitatively, the Crosstour is about six inches longer, about nine inches taller, and about 500 pounds heavier than the Accord coupe when looking at an AWD Crosstour. (The FWD Crosstour is about 250 pounds heavier than an Accord sedan, and actually falls short of many of the sedan’s interior measurements, aside from doubling the sedan’s cargo volume.)
The Crosstour shares no body panels with the sedan or coupe, but definitely shares a common design language. All of the sedan’s cues are on the Crosstour, but interpreted slightly differently. For example, the strong swage line that goes through the front door handle on the sedan also exists on the Crosstour, as does the trapezoid-shaped grille. The Crosstour has a style all its own – for better or worse – but one of the most curious elements is the odd dichotomy between the aggressively angular front end and the flowing, tapered rear end. The pockmark-textured rocker panels on the Crosstour are unusual-looking and are not featured on other Accord models. I’m uncertain as to whether they serve a functional purpose or are just a feature to “toughen up” the Crosstour’s appearance.
Inside, the Crosstour looks exactly like an Accord in almost every way, except the view out the windows is a bit different thanks to its higher hood and taller stance, the Insight-like divided window on the rear hatch. The dash, door panels, center console, and more appear to share part numbers, much less a common appearance. The tan leather on the seats in my 4,500-mile tester still smelled great, and Honda’s excellent front seats – supportive yet comfortable – again did not disappoint. I’ve generally been pleased by the amount of usable interior space in any model Honda relative to what I expect given its exterior dimensions; of course a Fit is small, but its interior is spacious for a subcompact. The same holds true for the Accord, and Accord Crosstour. The door panels were nicely styled, and the center stack – although a bit button-heavy – was attractive enough. All buttons and dials had the same solid feel and silken resistance when pressed, and their feel adds to the Crosstour’s perceived quality. Consistent panel gaps and buttery smooth door opening and closing actions also lend to one’s positive perception of the Crosstour’s quality.
Previous Honda Accords have had much more soft-touch surface area than does the current generation, including the Crosstour. The multi-part dashboard, which has many horizontal seams, only has a relatively small section with “give” when you squeeze it. Even a Mazda3 has more soft-touch surface area on its dashboard. The Crosstour has hard plastic everywhere else on the dash, but at least it’s not hollow sounding when tapping on it. The headliner is a nice woven material, but the A-pillar trim is hard plastic instead of the cloth-covered treatment in the 2003-2007 Accords.
Where Honda – and the Accord Crosstour in particular – often disappoint me is in the available technology. Yes, the Crosstour has XM, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, a backup camera, and numerous safety features. However it is lacking in some of the features that can be found in Toyotas and Fords, such as Bluetooth streaming audio, dynamic cruise control, a blind spot warning system, self parking system, and more. Also, Honda’s navigation system, while reasonably easy to operate, appears to be a couple of generations behind the state of the art. The graphics and text are reminiscent of an early 1990s DOS-based computer’s, and Honda’s iDrive-like knob is not the easiest to use. I’m generalizing again, but Honda’s stereo systems do not tend to have very good power or clarity, even relative to other unbranded factory-installed systems, and the Crosstour suffers from the same issue; its stereo is lacking in bass and in power (though its published 360-watt number is respectable, and it does have a subwoofer).
Honda does manage to do a credible job of getting the Crosstour to have a very similar feeling behind the wheel to the Accord sedan. Aside from the extra weight (which is not offset by extra horsepower; both an Accord V6 sedan and an Accord Crosstour share the same 3.5 liter 271-horsepower/254 lb-ft V6) and the taller driving position, they feel about the same. This means that the Crosstour has a very rigid, squeak-free structure and accurate steering with just the right amount of effort required. It also does a great job of tracking on the highway, and has a nice ride/handling balance. The extra weight makes it feel somewhat ponderous and deliberate, while the same V6 in the sedan and coupe make them some of the quickest-accelerating cars in their class. There’s also some torque management in first gear that is not friendly to maximum acceleration. Basically, from the seat of my pants, the V6 Crosstour felt similar to the four cylinder Accord sedan in terms of straight line acceleration.
The Crosstour has Honda’s VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) cylinder-deactivation feature standard. Unlike many other such systems, VCM’s operation is nearly invisible, with the exception of a small green “ECO” light on the left side of the gauge cluster. VCM can move the car on three, four, or six cylinder operation, depending upon load and need. I noticed the ECO light would remain lit for nearly all steady-state cruising, and not just downhill stretches. Thanks to VCM, I observed a solid 26 miles per gallon on a pure highway trip. Overall, the Crosstour returned 20 miles per gallon, with about a 50/50 city/highway mix. The EPA agrees with me and says that a Crosstour AWD should return 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, with a combined figure of 20 mpg. (The FWD version is rated at 18 city/27 highway/21 combined).
The Crosstour is only available in EX, EX-L(eather), and EX-L with Navigation trim levels. A front wheel drive EX starts at $30,830 including destination. The EX (the only Crosstour with cloth seats) is not available in all wheel drive, but includes the V6, five-speed automatic, six airbags, dual-zone automatic climate control, power moonroof, 17 inch alloy wheels, and a six-speaker 360-watt audio system (including WMA/MP3, and CD player. The Crosstour EX-L costs $2,900 more and adds leather seats (heated in the front), XM radio, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 18 inch wheels, Bluetooth, USB input, memory seats, and projector-beam headlights. Real-time four wheel drive is optional on the EX-L for another $1,450. The EX-L with Navigation that I tested includes the navigation system and backup camera for another $2,200. The bottom line MSRP for my loaded test vehicle was $36,930. TrueDelta shows a $2,465 price premium for the Crosstour relative to a comparably-equipped Accord sedan. Crosstour pricing is very close to Toyota Venza pricing, with only $320 separating their MSRPs (the Venza is cheaper), and the Venza coming in at a feature-adjusted difference of $845 (again, the Venza is cheaper).
The Venza is similar in mission to the Crosstour, but doesn’t have the same aggressively-tapering roofline, which cuts into cargo capacity; the Venza dramatically outdoes the Crosstour in that regard, and has a slightly nicer interior. The Venza V6 felt faster, but the Crosstour handled with more confidence.
I see the Crosstour as sort of a regular Accord cranked up to 11. It has more height, more room, more drive wheels (optionally), and more weight than an Accord sedan. It also has more style, though many – including this scribe – are still questioning whether Honda could have done a better job with its design. For individuals who have an Accord and like everything about it, but want more utility and a little more capability, the Crosstour may be a good choice. Just be aware that it is very far shifted toward the “car” end of the crossover spectrum, and your expectations will be met. Also expect people to gawk at you for a while, unless Honda has been successful in convincing 40,000 buyers to plunkk down $30,000 to $37,000 for a Crosstour.
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