Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Honda Accord Crosstour

It's a peculiar thing, the Honda Accord Crosstour. I've seen many a press release, photo and spec sheet on this uniquely odd vehicle, yet really didn't know what I was getting myself into until I actually sat inside the vehicle for first time myself. The highly competitive Crossover market was created not all that long ago, designed to blur the lines between Station Wagon and SUV, giving buyers maximum versatility in a package that drives like a car. Well with the Crosstour we now have a new segment that blurs the lines between station wagon and Crossover, seemingly intent on killing off the once beloved family transport once and for all, as the station wagon seems to be dying a slow death. With a week behind the wheel of the awkward brother to the Accord, I set about trying to decipher just who this odd vehicle is designed for.

Lets start with the most outstanding feature of the Crosstour, its shape. Now I can't lie, I think this thing took a very large tumble out of the ugly tree, however that hasn't seemed to stop people from buying them, as I see quite a few on the road and many were likely bought just because of the way it looks.

However, with a “4WD” badge on the rear and the look of a vehicle ready to tackle the rigors of the great out doors, with a distinct Accord family resemblance, my thoughts of a Lada inspired Accord would be dashed. There is no selectable transfer case, only the AWD system lifted from the CRV, which while decently capable, allows the Crosstour to get much better fuel efficiency than a proper 4WD, with a 9.8L/100km combined rating in my time in the car. And while there is increased ground clearance, the added 59 mm of play does little in the way of making this a competent soft-roader, I took the Crosstour out into the wilds to try out it’s all-terrain capability. Most CUV’s are great on gravel roads or a bit of snow, anything else, don't bother. I did bother however, and first took the Crosstour up a rough gravel road, no problem. It got a little muddy, but the AWD kicked in and all was well. Then I took it off into a bumpy field, and while the ride-height began to be challenged, all was still fine. However, once I got to a gravel pit, short ruts only a foot deep began to challenge the Crosstour’s clearance issues, and for the sake of bumper damage and my relationship with Honda, I decided to end the all-terrain test there and then. However, in short, the Crosstour will happily take an urban family into the great outdoors, and get them into a decent camping spot just off the gravel road just fine, or get you through a winters dump of snow, but don’t expect to go mud bogging in it.

So, if not a hardcore off-road version of the Accord, maybe the Crosstour is meant to be a BMW X6 type vehicle, a much misunderstood mix of sports car and SUV. The problem is that the X6 makes no claims that it is strictly a performance car with a view. The Crosstour is built on the Accords underpinnings, which are, shall we say, not exactly what you would call high performance. The tried and true 3.5L V6 offers 271 hp on tap with 254 lb-ft directed through the 5-speed automatic gearbox then on to all four wheels if the front wheels detect danger. Well proven and as reliable as the millennium is long, but the V-6 is no high-strung racer. Likewise, the Crosstour’s on road manners don't live up to the high performance theory as the added height, tall tires and 230 extra kg makes it a bit wallowy on the highway. So, no X6 fighter.

However, the Crosstour starts to make sense when you start to look around inside. Inside, the Crosstour has very familiar surroundings, mirroring that of the standard Accord, but with a little more headroom for us tall-bodied folks. As such you get a fairly sharp looking dash with all the standard Satnav wizardry and multi-media devices. In the rear, passengers get even more spacious surroundings while the sloping rear end of the Crosstour helps add a massive 330L to the cargo area with the addition of giving owners a lift hatch for entry. So, really, its not going after any other high profile competitors, but blazing a useful path for the greater populous in being a more useful and practical vehicle.

. It’s perfectly simple! It’s a car for people that want the versatility of a Crossover Utility Vehicle, without actually have to buy one. With the unique shape and design, Honda has created a niche vehicle for someone who just doesn’t want to follow the rest of the crowd into a predictable CUV solution. It’s a car for people who want to be different and decide to go against the grain rather than with it.

MSRP: $29,995
Price as tested: $39,995
Type: 5-door, mid-sized sedan/coupe
Engine: 3.5L V-6
Horsepower: 271
Torque: 254
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, AWD
Brakes: Four-wheel discs
Fuel Economy (L/100km): 10.9L city, 7.6L highway
Competitors: Yeah right!

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