Honda calls the 2010 Accord Crosstour an "evolved crossover" -- a vehicle that's more stylish than an SUV and more versatile than a sedan. At least, that's what the PR hypemeisters say. Available in well-equipped EX and leather-lined EX-L models, the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour has a price range of $30,380 to $36,930 (including destination and options) and carries a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. Is the world ready for an evolved crossover? Let's drive the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour and find out.
I'll admit it: I initially thought the Honda Accord Crosstour was a pretty bad idea. But having spent some time with it, I've come around: I think the Crosstour is going to find a loyal following. Small, but loyal.
Honda isn't blind to the Crosstour's limited appeal. They're planning to sell just 40,000 Crosstours in 2010, a miniscule number from a brand that shifts well over a million new vehicles per year. Honda designed the Accord Crosstour for couples whose kids have grown and flown, those who like the way their CUVs and SUVs drive but no longer need a stodgy family wagon. The emphasis is on comfort and utility rather than kid-friendly practicality. Think of it that way, and the Crosstour starts to make a lot more sense.
As its name implies (and its styling belies), the Accord Crosstour is based on the Accord sedan. It rides the same 110.2" wheelbase, although its bulky body makes it slightly longer and wider and significantly taller. Up front, the Crosstour wears a bulbous version of the Accord's grille; out back there's a swoopy Saab-like tailgate that opens from the back edge of the roof all the way down to the bumper, creating a yawning chasm for cargo. You may have heard about the Internet-based backlash that erupted when Honda released early pictures of the Crosstour on Facebook. In photos taken from certain angles, the Crosstour does indeed look awkward. But seen in person, the design works -- it doesn't have the hulking aggression of the BMW X6; instead, its shape speaks of stylish utility and a smart blend of form and function.
In the Driver's Seat
The Crosstour's dashboard is nearly identical to that of the plain ol' Accord, although the view out over the hood makes the Crosstour feel a great deal wider (the actual difference is only 2 inches). I've complained time and again about the Accord's busy dashboard, and I'll do it again for the Crosstour: The center stack is a sea of look-alike buttons, and the optional dial-controlled navigation system adds to the confusion. Honda has improved matters a bit by painting the climate controls a different color than the stereo controls, but it still going to take a while for new owners to learn their way around all those buttons, and during that time the Crosstour will be a poster child for distracted driving.
Swoopy CUVs like the Crosstour usually suffer from back seat access problems, and the Crosstour is no different, though it may be the best of the bunch. I'm 5'6", and I had to duck while getting in to avoid a potential concussion. That said, back-seat access isn't too much worse than many sedans; I guess I'm just not used to stooping down to get into an SUV. Once inside, the Crosstour offers slightly more headroom (and slightly less legroom) than an Accord sedan.
The cargo bay is excellent: 25.7 cubic feet, plus a 1.9 cubic foot removable and washable underfloor storage bin. The spare tire is mounted outside, under the bodywork. A tug on two easy-to-reach levers drops the rear seatbacks, giving access to 51.3 cubes. But it's not just the space that's impressive -- it's the huge hatch, which offers better loading access than many SUVs.
On the Road
The Crosstour is powered by a 271 hp 3.5 liter V6 tied to a 5-speed automatic transmission. It's a lovely engine that runs smoothly and quietly at low speeds and gives off a racy snarl at full throttle. Power is more than adequate for the Crosstour's two-ton-or-so heft, and while its EPA fuel economy estimates (18 mpg city/27 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive version, 17/25 for all-wheel-drive) won't win the Accord Crosstour any Greenpeace awards, they aren't too bad for something this size. My driving time on mixed freeway, neighborhood and twisty-road driving yielded a respectable 22 mpg.
And speaking of twisty roads, the Crosstour handles them quite nicely. The ride is a bit firmer than I like in a CUV, but in terms of steering response, body lean, and tire grip, the Accord Crosstour straddles the line between what I expect from a car and what I expect from a crossover. It doesn't stick to the road quite as well as the Accord sedan, but it comes pretty close, and I'd feel safe making a panic swerve at speed. The all-wheel-drive system, which delivers power to the front wheels and shifts it rearward (up to a 50/50 split) when traction is low, doesn't seem to enhance the handling; if anything, its extra weight (about 180 lbs) makes the Crosstour feel a tad more slovenly in the corners. Unless you live in snow country, I'd skip it.
My biggest complaint is visibility: Huge though the rear window is, rear visibility is pretty poor. Over-the-shoulder visibility isn't very good either, although the Crosstour has acceptably large side-view mirrors.
I like what Honda's done with the 2010 Accord Crosstour. It's handsome, good to drive, and nicely equipped. It offers decent passenger room and lots of cargo space. It's even built right here in the US. If it weren't for the overly-complex controls and the limited rear visibility, I'd call it a slam dunk.
That said, the Crosstour's best rival is the Toyota Venza, and in my opinion the Venza is the better vehicle. It has a more useful cargo bay and a roomier back seat, and its control layout is easier to use than the Accord's ocean of look-alike buttons. Toyota offers a four-cylinder version, which delivers decent power and gets better gas mileage than the Accord Crosstour's V6. Handling-wise, the Venza feels just as stable and car-like as the Honda, although the Honda's livelier steering makes it a bit more fun to drive. But the Venza still has that frumpy station-wagon shape, which is what a lot of Crosstour buyers are no doubt looking to get away from.
Other sedan-like crossovers include the Acura ZDX (also made by Honda, although the two are unrelated under the skin), which has luxury cachet but a higher price tag, and the BMW X6, which is more cramped and a lot more expensive. If you ask me, Honda's got the best mix of comfort, luxury and value. Bottom line: The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour may only appeal to a small segment of buyers, but I bet those few people are going to be very, very happy with it.