Sunday, November 22, 2009

Styling is subjective, but we think the tall, wide-hipped Crosstour is reasonably attractive - save for its large, somewhat clunky horizontal-bar grille, which gives it a face unlike any other Honda's. Inside, the look and feel are roomy, plush and user-friendly, with such touches as plush carpeting, rear-ventilation outlets in the console and double stitching on the available leather trim.

Honda's new-for-2010 Accord-based crossover, unabashedly named Accord Crosstour. It is essentially an Accord wagon, except its rear roofline is aerodynamically sloped instead of squared off, which sacrifices some cargo room but preserves respectable backseat headroom even for six-footers. But please don't call it that.

Is such a half-breed a car, or is it a truck? While some crossovers, especially the larger ones with three rows of seats, are more SUV-like, this one appears closer to a car. As far as government classification goes, the signals are mixed: for emissions and fuel economy testing, the EPA sees it as a passenger car. For safety certification, NHTSA calls it a truck.

Honda calls it a "five-door, five-passenger premium CUV" and offers it in two models: a well-equipped EX (just over $30,000, including destination) and an upscale EX-L (about $33K). "Real-time" four-wheel drive adds $1,450 and voice-activated navigation with a rear-view camera, another $2,200, but both are offered on the EX-L only.

Standard on the EX are dual-zone automatic air conditioning; 360-watt, 7-speaker audio with a 6-disc CD player; easy fold-down 60/40 split rear seats; 225/65 R17 all-season tires on alloy wheels; a power moonroof; steering-wheel audio controls; auto-off projector beam headlights; fog lights; rear privacy glass; and a hidden removable utility box.

The EX-L adds leather-trimmed seats (heated in front), steering wheel and shift knob; memory mirrors and driver-side seat; 225/60 R18 all-season tires; auto-on/off headlights; a cargo privacy cover; a HomeLink transmitter; premium speakers and a USB audio interface.

How much of this Crosstour is Accord under its skin? Honda says roughly 60 percent of its parts are shared with the sedan, including the chassis and powertrain, the instrument panel and most of the interior. That chassis incorporates fully independent double-wishbone front and rear-multilink rear suspensions, both slightly upgraded for the taller, heavier Crosstour. Notable among those upgrades are rebound springs inside the front shocks to improve handling and reduce body roll, two-piston front brake calipers and bigger rear rotors.

The only available powertrain is the Accord's 271-hp 3.5-liter i-VTEC SOHC V-6 coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission. This award-winning engine uses Honda's exclusive Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation system to enhance fuel economy by shutting down two, or at times even three, cylinders when it's lightly loaded. The electronically controlled 5-speed automatic is smooth but slightly less fuel-efficient than the latest 6-speeds offered by GM, Ford and others. The 2WD Crosstour is EPA-rated at a respectable 18 city/27 highway mpg and the 4WD EX-L at 17/25.

The two interior color choices are charcoal black with a black instrument panel or ivory with a two-tone (black upper, tan lower) instrument panel, both with tasteful faux wood accents. To quiet the cabin, a new Active Sound Control (ASC) technology uses the audio system to acoustically minimize engine noise. There is 25.7 cu. ft. of cargo room behind the 60/40 rear seats; and, folding them down increases the area to 54 cu. ft. Access to it is easy thanks to a large tailgate opening and a low lift-over height. Three other handy features are twin levers that quickly fold those seats flat into the floor, carpeted lids that flip over to create easy-to-clean plastic surfaces and a hidden 1.9-liter storage box with handles for easy removal.

If you've driven an Accord sedan, you'll feel comfortable in a Crosstour. Honda engineers have compensated well via specific spring rates, shocks and stabilizer bars; for its modestly increased size and the potential of added cargo weight. Unladen, it rides and handles about as well as the fairly agile yet compliant sedan. Its brakes are suitably strong and fade-free, but its constant-ratio steering is somewhat slower at low speeds compared to the sedan's variable-ratio system.

With six inches of ground clearance, this is no off-road crawler, but the available fully automatic Real Time 4WD system improves its bad-weather and off-pavement capabilities by sending power to the rear wheels when the fronts begin to slip. The 5-speed automatic can be manually shifted, and its new downshift rev-match feature smooths manual downshifts.

Standard safety features include Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist. The comprehensive restraint system includes dual-stage, multiple threshold front airbags; driver's and front passenger's side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor; and active front seat head restraints.

This new 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour slides neatly between Honda's Civic-based CR-V compact crossover and its larger, more truck-like (Accord-based) Pilot CUV and competes directly with Toyota's similar Camry based Venza and Nissan's Altima-based Murano. Call it what you want but consider it a very interesting new entry in the increasingly crowded crossover field., with their team of leading automotive experts, provides auto shoppers and car enthusiasts automotive advice they can trust. Enjoy reading popular car reviews and road tests and learn more about the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour, including the latest pricing, rebates and incentives, safety features and photo galleries along with details on all Honda Models.


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