As easy and comfortable to drive as an Accord, smooth powertrain, quiet cabin at freeway speeds, significantly more cargo capacity than a sedan.
Controversial styling, busy center stack design, not as practical as a wagon or crossover, sometimes slow-to-downshift transmission.
As you've no doubt noticed, we live in an increasingly specialized society. Used to be you just got a cup of coffee. Now you've got your espressos, your vanilla lattes and your caramel macchiatos to choose from. And in the vehicular world, now you've got the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. Neatly splitting the difference between a family sedan and a crossover SUV, this fastback Honda is billed as a grand touring vehicle geared toward active "Empty Nesters."
You know the type: The kids are now on their own and so are their parents. Perhaps Mom and Pop have taken up golf, tennis or paintball and are looking for some practicality and luxury along with distinctive styling that makes it plain that they're not shuttling kids around anymore.
And it doesn't get much more distinctive — there is no direct competition for the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour, which will be offered only in up-level EX and EX-L trims with pricing ranging from $30,380 for a 2WD EX to $36,930 for a 4WD EX-L with navigation. At a press preview held in idyllic Palos Verdes, California, Honda provided a Toyota Venza and a Nissan Murano for brief comparison drives. And the cordial Crosstour (think Accord sedan minus the road noise and plus some major cargo capacity) backed up our ultra-niche impression by having a sportier drive than the Venza while eschewing the crossover SUV look and higher seating position of the Murano.
One might argue that the Infiniti EX35 could be considered a rival to the Crosstour, but the EX35 doesn't have as rakish a roofline nor the passenger and cargo space of the larger Honda. So unless for some odd reason you'd cross-shop the Crosstour against the only other stylistically similar vehicle, the doubly expensive BMW X6, this Accord is a unique cuppa Joe. Whether Joe Public embraces this decidedly non-mainstream blend remains to be seen.
The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour is motivated by the same 3.5-liter V6 found in the Accord sedan; it sends its 271 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque through a five-speed automatic transmission. That is the sole engine available, though buyers do have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
During our drive in and around the rolling hills of Palos Verdes, the V6 did a decent job of moving 2 tons' worth of Crosstour EX-L 4WD. As we've noted with this engine in the Accord sedan, power delivery is rather soft out of the gate (peak torque is at a relatively high 5,000 rpm), but builds quickly to a meatier midrange. As a result, the Crosstour may not snap your head back when pulling away from the lights, but its passing and merging power is respectably strong. We were able to procure a 2WD Crosstour EX-L for track testing where the Honda clicked off a relatively brisk 7.5-second 0-to-60-mph sprint and a 15.5-second run down the quarter-mile.
The five-speed's gearchanges were virtually seamless, even under full throttle. The transmission was sometimes slow to downshift unless prodded with a firm boot, likely a result of fuel-economy-minded programming. To its credit, it did a fine job of holding gears on grades and through turns, eliminating the annoying hunting between gears exhibited by some other transmissions. And should you want to shift for yourself (via the console-mounted shift lever), you'll be happy to know that the gearbox features an automatic downshift rev-matching feature, the first in a Honda-brand vehicle.
As with the Accord sedan, the V6 comes with cylinder deactivation technology that will allow the engine to run on as few as three cylinders under light load conditions. The result is EPA fuel economy estimates of 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the front-drive version, with the 4WD version coming in about 1 less mpg.
Fitted with upsized brakes compared to an Accord sedan, the Crosstour came to a halt from 60 mph in 131 feet at the track, a decent if not impressive distance for a vehicle this size. The tester reported that they were typical Honda brakes, meaning both distance and feel worsened after a succession of panic stops. In normal driving, however, they feel strong enough and provide a progressive pedal feel.
Given its role as a Grand Touring vehicle, the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour's suspension strikes an agreeable balance between a compliant ride and composed handling. Not surprisingly, it struck us as a bigger Accord sedan in terms of its steering feel (nicely weighted with some road feel), and lack of sloppy body motions when pressed through the curves. At the track, it ran through the cones at 64.4 mph, pretty fast considering a Venza and a Murano couldn't hit 60 in the same test.
With the tilt-telescopic steering wheel and multiadjustable power seat, getting comfortable behind the wheel was easy. A shorter staffer would've liked the wheel to move a little closer to the dash, however, though he had no complaints once acclimated. Accords have long had an unenviable reputation for allowing a bit too much road noise to make its way inside. Thankfully, that's not the case with the Crosstour as its quieter cabin is meant to more closely match the vehicle's luxury GT crossover mission.
Despite the teardrop roofline, the backseat provided acceptable head- and legroom for a 6-foot-1-inch editor. In fact, those two specs are virtually identical to the Accord sedan's. The seat itself was generously padded, well shaped and up high enough to provide proper leg support.
With the dash essentially lifted from the Accord, the Crosstour's controls are mostly intuitive and precise in action. Unfortunately, this means the Crosstour has the same center stack that's overly cluttered with similar-looking buttons. The layout is intimidating to look at, but if our experience is any indicator, a day or two in the car is all you'll need to get used to them.
Though the visibility toward the front and sides is acceptable, backing and parking a vehicle like this, with its fastback roofline and high tail, can be a challenge. To help you out Honda has fitted a glass window below the liftgate (just like an old CR-X, or the Insight), while on the EX-L with navigation you get a back-up camera with guidance lines. The latter is a godsend, allowing you to easily place the vehicle between parking lines and back up to other parallel parked cars without worry about touching bumpers.
With the rear seats up, the Crosstour provides 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space, nearly twice the sedan's trunk capacity. Flop them down via handy release levers mounted in the cargo bay and you'll have 51.3 cubes at your disposal, though that's still about 15-20 cubes shy of a midsize crossover. Underneath the cargo floor is a removable, 1.9-cubic-foot utility box, while the carpeted cargo mat can be flipped over to its easily cleaned plastic underside should you be transporting anything messy.
Design/Fit and Finish
This 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour's design elements — an in-your-face grille, a concave character line that becomes convex as you move toward the rear, the fastback body style — may seem rather odd at first, especially from a conservative company like Honda. But in the steel, the styling grew on us. Remember the 2002 BMW 7 Series? Roundly bashed for its styling by us auto critics, it became the best-selling 7 Series.
One of the journalists at this event asked why not just bring out an Accord wagon, rather than this less capacious fastback hatchback. The corporate answer was that Honda wanted to offer something different and sportier than what's currently available. Fair enough, but what the Honda rep forgot to mention was that Americans — for reasons that escape us — just don't warm up to wagons unless they're expensive and of European descent. It seems that despite some attractively styled and sporty wagons (e.g., the recent Mazda 6) the buying public still unfairly equates the term "wagon" with those dorky mom-and-dad mobiles many of us grew up with.
If you've been inside an Accord, then the Crosstour's cabin will be immediately familiar, as the fit and finish is excellent while the instrument panel, center stack and door panels are virtually identical.
Who should consider this vehicle
Empty nesters, or anybody who requires significantly more cargo capacity than a sedan but wants something sportier and less ubiquitous than a crossover SUV. This is an example of form over function, however, and as such the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour doesn't offer as much cargo nor as much passenger (when compared to a three-row vehicle) space as similarly sized crossovers.