Rebirth of Accord Hatchback, Size XL
Honda's ability to read our minds is rather legendary. Generations of Accords have touched hearts and wallets with their just-right combination of size, amenities and out-and-out value. But we wonder what exactly we were thinking the day the Honda brain trust probed our thoughts and came up with the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour.
In concept, the Accord Crosstour makes perfect sense. This tall hatchback is better for carrying Akitas than the Accord sedan, but isn't quite so large and heavy as a true SUV like the Pilot or the Odyssey minivan. At the same time, the Crosstour has roomier passenger quarters than the Honda CR-V and proves far more successful at getting out of its own way on the freeway.
Indeed, we're content as we drive our front-wheel-drive 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L with Navigation. It feels like an Accord sedan (albeit with 300 extra pounds) right down to its accurate steering and predictable handling.
Yet, there's something odd about the 2010 Accord Crosstour that can't be entirely written off to its exterior styling and the ensuing fuss on Facebook. The Crosstour is supposed to offer an ideal compromise of sedan and SUV attributes, but the utility doesn't quite add up.
More Hatchback Than Crossover
An exceptionally long body contributes to the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour's challenging appearance. At 196.8 inches, it's 3.5 inches longer than the Accord sedan (with which it shares its 110-inch wheelbase), 6 inches longer than the Honda Pilot and 8 inches longer than its closest rival, the Toyota Venza. Combine this with the sloping roofline of a hatchback and you never know what you'll get. Maybe you'll pen the next Audi A7, but it could just as well be another BMW X6 or 5 Series GT.
The Accord Crosstour is similar in width (74.7 inches) and height (65.7 inches) to rival crossovers like the Venza, Nissan Murano and Subaru Outback. It has less ground clearance (6 inches) than these three, but sits higher off the ground than a normal Accord sedan. The objective is just to give you a shot at escaping your driveway after a snowstorm. Honda offers you the choice of front-wheel drive or the simple, cost-effective Real Time four-wheel-drive system from the CR-V.
Inside its passenger cabin, the five-passenger Crosstour offers ample shoulder, hip- and legroom in both rows, but the hatchback roofline puts the squeeze on as you move rearward. Honda's new crossover is a little tight on rear headroom (37.5 inches) for this class. You also can't recline its 60/40 rear seat. Honda apparently has assumed that you won't be putting any gangly-limbed teenagers back here, you see, as recent empty nesters are also part of the target demographic.
Cargo space is even more compromised, as vertical clearance dips as low as 17 inches as the hatchback tapers. Moreover, the Crosstour's 25.7-cubic-foot cargo bay and 51.3-cubic-foot capacity with the rear seat pale in comparison to the Murano, Outback and Venza. All three have more than 30 cubic feet of seats-up capacity. The Outback and Venza top 70 cubic feet with their rear seats folded — as does the compact CR-V.
A Couple Blocks Uptown
Surprisingly for a car with "Accord" in its name, the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour will exist only in the $30K-plus price bracket when it goes on sale on November 20 and it also comes only with Honda's 3.5-liter V6 engine rated at 271 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 254 at 5,000 rpm.
There's no LX model, and the base two-wheel-drive Crosstour EX starts at $30,380. To help you get around that psychological barrier, Honda offers dual-zone automatic climate control and a more powerful, 340-watt audio system as standard, along with the expected 10-way power driver seat, sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The price jump from the EX to EX-L is $2,900, and that gets you leather upholstery, seat memory, heated seats, a real USB input, Bluetooth, satellite radio and 18-inch wheels. Add $1,450 if you want 4WD, which is only available on the EX-L. Navigation requires another $2,200, but you'll also get a back-up camera this time.
Our 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour 2WD EX-L Navi costs $35,480. We appreciate the slightly higher-grade leather upholstery and extra simulated walnut trim, but otherwise its cabin feels like any other Accord's.
Like an Accord, but Far Quieter
Fortunately, the cabin doesn't sound like any other Accord's. Road noise is significantly lower over all types of pavement — so much so that we're more aware of wind ruffle off the mirrors than the rumble of the 225/60R18 100H Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires. We measure 61.5 decibels in the 2010 Accord Crosstour EX-L Navi's cabin at a 70-mph cruise compared to 66.5 dBA in our long-term Accord EX-L sedan.
Ride quality is also slightly more relaxed (but no less composed), even though the basic suspension components are the same. Minor revisions to the chassis have yielded a 20 percent increase in bending rigidity, according to Honda, along with a 3 percent increase in torsional rigidity.
The car's handling limits are modest but approachable, and at 64.4 mph, the Honda Accord Crosstour isn't much slower through the slalom than our Accord long-termer (65.6 mph). We've never done better than 63.6 mph through the cones in the Venza and 59.2 mph in the Murano.
A Bit Dull With the V6
Putting the gas pedal to the floor in our 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L Navi isn't as exciting as it should be in a vehicle with a powerful V6, though. Low-end torque is weak just like in the V6 Accord sedan. Even when the engine hits its stride at 5,000 rpm, Honda doesn't allow much personality to come through, so the soundtrack remains dull.
The Crosstour also lacks authority when stepping out to pass, as its fuel-saving cylinder deactivation feature (Honda's Variable Cylinder Management) and the five-speed automatic transmission's hesitance to downshift slow its responses. We want a manual-shift mode. Of course, there's no denying that fuel economy is pretty good with the current arrangement; the 2WD Crosstour has an 18/27 rating. Without making any effort, we get 24.5 mpg during a 100-mile pure highway run. The 4WD Accord Crosstour has a 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway EPA rating.
Honda has added a downshift rev-matching feature for the Crosstour, but it's very subtle and you have to be watching the tach to see any evidence of throttle blips. It's just a software add-on to make downshifts smoother, not necessarily quicker, so Accord coupes and sedans with this five-speed automatic will likely get rev-matching for the 2011 model year, though Honda won't confirm this.
Our 2010 Crosstour EX-L Navi's 7.5-second 0-to-60-mph time (7.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a dragstrip) and 15.5-second quarter-mile at 91.3 mph are respectable for this class and not far off our long-term Accord (7.0-second 0-60 mph; 15.3 seconds at 95.4 mph in the quarter-mile). The V6-equipped Venza is quicker, though, with a 7.2-second 0-60 and at 15.2-second quarter at 92.8 mph. More importantly, the Toyota, which has a six-speed automatic, feels quicker out of the gates and offers plenty of vigor when passing.
Still, the weakest dynamic link on this 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L Navi is the brakes. Honda has added a second piston to each front caliper and increased the rear rotor diameter by almost an inch (now 12 inches) over the V6 Accord. It's not enough, though. Our Crosstour stops from 60 mph in 131 feet, but fades to 135 feet on the second stop.
The End of Our Tour
Underachieving brakes are unfortunately par for the course in the current Honda lineup, but apart from that, the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L Navi is an agreeable vehicle to drive. It's quieter and more comfortable than other Hondas, and certainly more practical than the Accord sedan if you travel with a medium-size pet or stroller.
But as a crossover, the 2010 Accord Crosstour just isn't as focused on practicality as the Murano, Outback, Venza or even the CR-V. All of these vehicles put the emphasis on utility and that dictates their rotund shape.
The Accord Crosstour tries to be something different and trades away space in the name of style. Honda points out that the 40,000 empty nesters and young families it hopes will buy a Crosstour annually aren't necessarily looking for maximum utility. But the Crosstour is wide across the bow, and frankly, ungainly from certain angles. It's not the kind of car you buy for its looks and we wonder exactly how many cubic feet of cargo capacity that buyers will be willing to sacrifice.
Possibly the biggest problem for the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour is last week's announcement that the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon goes on sale next fall. Not only does the TSX wagon have a more conventional shape and presumably more cargo capacity, it's likely to land in exactly the same price range.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.