Driving Northwest: 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L

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by TOM VOELK / KING5 car expert

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KING5.com

Posted on April 1, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 1 at 12:26 PM

For those who think all cars look the same these days I offer up exhibit A- the new Honda Accord Crosstour. While the rest of the industry steadfastly applies the “box on wheels” formula to crossovers, Honda just says no to the same old same old. Marketed as a crossover, Accord Crosstour is essentially a large hatchback and in a way it brings the nameplate full circle. If you know your automotive history from the mid 70s the original Accord was, you guessed it, a hatch. A two door yes but a hatch just the same. 

As it is with the targeted baby boomers who have grown larger over the years, so goes the Accord line. These vehicles are now classified as “full size”. Crosstour does the sedan one better by riding a bit higher. Officially ground clearance is 6” but if you’re counting the pieces that won’t bend on impact its really closer to 8”. Also Honda says Crosstour is a premium experience with luxury touches above Accord. 

Honda says buyers are folks in their 50s or 60s who’s kids have left the house (or hoping they can finally get the slackers out soon). Similar in concept to BMW X6 and Acura ZDX, Crosstour’s rear seat is more functional. Why not just build an Accord wagon? That’s the other group it’s aimed at- People who don’t want a wagon. These buyers also think Odyssey and Pilot are too big and CR-V not refined enough. You may not want these picky people at your party.

The Facebook Incident

No doubt, Crosstour’s design is polarizing. Perhaps you’ve heard about Honda’s adventure in social marketing. Months before Crosstour’s launch they got it it’s own page on Facebook and waited for people to “friend” it. Hoo boy. To say things didn’t go smoothly is an understatement. The two photos that were up on the site were not flattering and the masses scorched the design. To Honda’s credit they left the unflattering comments up believing in their product. When it was finally showed in the flesh at SEMA, the response was much more positive.

Generally I stay away from styling for so many reasons but considering the controversy I’ll weigh in with an opinion. Like some people I know, this vehicle doesn’t photograph well, explaining some of the reaction on Facebook. While it doesn’t deserve the thrashing it received, it’s no Audi. Sleek in the back, boxy up front, it just doesn’t gel cohesively. Honda does a great job engineering their vehicles, world class design would make them formidable. A couple neighbors and Costco shoppers watching me do the TP test liked the sheetmetal. Others not so much. Don’t like it? Don’t buy one. And for those who just want an Accord wagon, the Acura TSX gets that variant soon enough.

Better than the sedan?

Starting at $30,380 with destination, this high end EX-L with navigation model goes for $35,480. It has Accord genetics meaning the driving dynamics are first rate. Large but nimble, it’s actually fun to toss into a corner even though it weighs 300 pounds more than Accord. Body roll is controlled, ride quality is firm but less harsh than regular Accord. My ears say it’s quieter too. In the end I prefer Crosstour’s overall driving experience to the sedan’s.

While Accord gets a choice of 4 and 6 cylinder engines, Crosstour has just one, a 271 horse 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 with 254 lbs-ft of torque on tap. It’s hooked up to a 5-speed transmission. Much of the competition is bolting 6-speed gear boxes into their vehicles these days and Crosstour also does without a manual shift mode. Still, the drivetrain is smooth and refined. 

Acceleration is more than adequate. The 0-60 run happens in a quick seven and a half seconds so only owners that own a Viper will complain about power. EPA fuel economy is 18 city, 27 highway for this front drive model. Real Time 4WD is available for $1,450, dropping MPGs to 17/25 as expected.

Familiar Surroundings

If you’ve been in an Accord you know the Crosstour instrument panel setup already. The center stack includes a big cluster of buttons that are hard to decipher at first.  Honda says Crosstour is about premium upgrades and there’s better carpet and leather plus memory settings for the driver’s seat. Honda’s navigation unit uses a knob that gets pushed, nudged and twisted to input info, it’s not as easy as a touch screen. Thankfully voice command works fine. Phones and iPods are fully supported.

Honda’s idea of premium doesn’t include keyless ignition or panoramic sunroof, the hole in the roof here is standard size. While I’m griping, the legal statement on every start up is annoying. I suppose that’s the price to pay for a navigation system that can be programmed while driving (most systems “grey out” when the car is in motion). At least the warning doesn’t keep the back up camera from coming on. 

Filling up the seats

The kids may be gone but couples are still social. In the back, three friends should be just fine so long as they don’t want to stretch out in limo-like splendor. Head and foot room are OK but the seats don’t slide fore and aft to max out either foot or legroom. Seats don’t recline either. Map pockets? There are two. Cupholders? Two in the armrest, one each in the door panels. Power plug? Denied. Only those in front get them. The center seating position is raised but my head still has clearance.

Capable, but not most capable 

Moving to the cargo area, a lid makes up some of the load floor and it’s reversible from carpet to plastic making cleanup easier. A removable tub is located under the floor, pretty darned handy for hauling stuff into the house. 

If you’re cross shopping Subaru Outback or Nissan Murano know that they each hold 9 packs of Kirkland band bath tissue (the professional’s choice for measuring trunks). The standard Accord holds 8, Crosstour 7 (though lets add a half pack that would fit under the floor). And while the sedan’s seat does fold forward to expand cargo, it doesn’t split or create a big space to haul large boxes like Crosstour. That’s the advantage of a hatchback folks.

And so in the end Crosstour does what empty nesters need it to do, except kick the especially lazy kids out of the house. And to those Facebook naysayers, Honda’s target of 40,000 copies a year seems to be right on track. It’s a versatile vehicle though maybe not quite as cargo capable as the competition which is Venza, Murano, Edge, and Outback. The Honda definitely looks different than the others, you decide if that’s a positive. Looking to go your own road? The Accord Crosstour offers up a unique look with the sporty personality Honda is known for.
 

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