Thursday, May 13, 2010

A bit bigger: 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour 2WD EX-L NAV—The return of the "Family Truckster" ... sort of

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour 2WD EX-L NAV
Pros: Good power; great build quality; nice interior
Cons: Styling; un-user friendly technology; sloping rear end limits cargo carrying capacity
Overall: More practical than a sedan, less space than a wagon. Unless you love the styling, be sure to shop the competition.
Honda hasn't offered an Accord wagon since 1997, although this Crosstour isn't exactly what most would call a wagon, per se. It is, however, another entry into the crowded and competitive crossover segment. Available in either front- or all-wheel drive, and with one engine and transmission choice, the Crosstour is basically an Accord V-6 for people who want more space, available all-wheel drive, and a bit more of an active-lifestyle appearance. No one will be mistaking the Crosstour for a standard Accord, and it's looks are love-it or leave-it.

I'll just say it: I can't stand the looks of this vehicle. I want to be able to like it for what it is, but I just can't. It's masculine front end with a muscular grille seems to be contradicted by its feminine, sloping rear. It sits up high off the ground for added ground clearance, but this adds to the car's awkward appearance. It just does not gel for me, no matter how many times I see it. To be fair, I had a couple of people come up to me and say they liked the look, and asked me what kind of car it was. If I could go directly from the house, and simply end up inside the Crosstour without looking at its exterior, that'd be great.

INTERIOR: Attractive, well made, and versatile ... but not perfect
The EX-L (with navigation) has an attractive, high-quality leather interior with plenty of room for two up front, and three in the back. Parts of the interior appear similar to the Acura TSX (especially the dashboard), but the Crosstour has more room, especially in the back seat. The car's front seats are firm and large, but comfortable and supportive. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels fairly large in diameter, but fits well in the hands, and has a veritable plethora of buttons (I believe about 17, if I remember correctly) to control Bluetooth, audio, and cruise controls.

The big story inside is found behind the rear seats. Open up the rear hatch, and the cargo area appears cavernous. Plus, there are two silver handles that fold down the rear seats for an amazing amount of room for gear. Unfortunately, due to the car's shape, capacity is limited to not-so-tall items. On a trip to Lowe's to return 100 ft. of garden hose (which we placed in a square plastic tub so as not to drip water on the upholstery), there was clearance issues with the rear hatch. Let's put it this way: You can carry a lot of stuff in a horizontal fashion. But tall items could prove difficult. Under the cargo area is a convenient storage area in the center, and it can be removed, too. Great for tailgating at sporting event, I'm sure. There are two smaller compartments to the left and right, as well.
Another downer: Visibility out of the Crosstour is poor. It's rear hatch creates a strange outward view, which is bisected by a crossmember on the trunk. It's just hard to see out of, which is not confidence inspiring. Good thing my model had the rear backup camera.

TECHNOLOGY: Lots of tech, lots of frustration
The Crosstour EX-L NAV has a lot of tech features. Problem is, they're not user friendly. You get navigation; a fantastic seven-speaker, 360-watt AM/FM/6-disc/MP3 stereo; Bluetooth with HandsFreeLink; USB/auxiliary jacks; automatic dual-zone climate control; mirrors that automatically tilt down when you put the car in reverse; and a great back-up camera. However, you need a class on how to work it all. I counted 33 buttons on the dashboard—not exactly intuitive, especially while driving. A few times, all I wanted to do was turn up the heater, but attempting to do so ended up being a lesson in distracted driving. Also, I could not pair my phone with the Bluetooth, and I finally just gave up. Add to this the 17 or so buttons on the steering wheel, and you've got a mass of technology that requires an engineering degree to figure out. Without ranting too much, the large display screen is highly visible, and is all controlled via a center knob, just like the Acrua TSX. I have mixed feelings about this control. Frankly, the whole thing was a bit frustrating.

The good news is all of the safety technology is there: ABS, traction/stability control, all the airbags you'll want, etc. Luckily, you don't have to learn to use those.

The 3.5-lliter V-6 is a smooth operator, as typical for Honda V-6 engines, and is mated to a responsive five-speed automatic. Unlike some other vehicles in the segment, such as the Subaru Outback, there is no manual shifting capability, though. My review sample was the front-drive variant, but the Crosstour is available in all-wheel drive to do battle against the previously mentioned Outback. Like the Outback, the Crosstour does appear to have some added ground clearance, and wears some meaty 18” wheels and tires. No qualms here.

DRIVING: Solid and substantial
As expected, the 271 hp V-6 has more-than-adequate power. Merging and passing are effortless endeavors; mid-range acceleration is noteworthy. All in all, the Crosstour is pretty quick, especially from a rolling start.

Handling is tuned to ride quality than handling. Although, the car does remain planted in the curves, albeit, with substantial body lean. The car feels heavy, and does weigh on the near side of 4,000 lbs. Not so great for cornering, but the car feels like a tank on the highway; it definitely has a substantial feel.

The Crosstour is rated at an estimated 18 city and 27 highway for fuel economy, and I got 18 MPG in 90% city driving.

This is a family cruiser, and it does this well. Ride quality is good, all but the largest bumps are easily soaked up by the fully independent suspension. The car is quiet and very comfortable.

OVERALL: The Honda "Family Truckster"
Your hard-earned $35,480 can nab you a '10 Crosstour with leather, tons of technology, a somewhat usable cargo area, and front wheel drive. Want all-wheel drive? That'll cost about $2,000 more in the same trim level. Yes, you do get a gusty V-6 and a good ride. Plus, the build quality is excellent. However, you can get a similarly equipped six-cylinder Subaru Outback Limited (with all-wheel drive) for about $5,500 less than a front-drive Crosstour.

The Honda Accord Crosstour FWD is essentially Honda's family wagon. You can get the kids in in, you can haul some cargo, and like the Family Truckster from “National Lampoon's Vacation,” it looks a bit goofy. However, if you have to have a wagon-like vehicle from Honda and don't want to drive an Odyssey mini-van, then the Crosstour might fit the bill. Keep in mind Acura is releasing a TSX wagon, too. Albeit, it will probably cost more, but it looks a lot more attractive to me. Let's put it this way: Before I'd plunk down $35K for a Crosstour, I'd Cross-Shop the competition.


nlpnt said...

At $35k and 29 dash buttons it must be the new poster child for feature creep. Too bad they don't offer a stripped-down 4 cylinder DX version.

I clicked on the link and yes, the TSX is better looking, but I still think the Crosstour's shape could be made to work if they gave it the Accord sedan/coupe's ride height and a more subtle grille.

Unknown said...

The TSX is the Accord in Europe isn't it? I still like the looks of it, that new generation of "CoupeUV" and I know it's a sedan. I do think it looks better than most of them out there, like the BMW X6, Toyota Venza, or the Volvo C30. If they're here to stay then I think it's a good way to start.

burnitwithfire said...

Most crossovers have too much of an identity crisis to look good. They either look like a big wagon or a small minivan/truck. The honda/acura is the worst of them IMO. It's so awkardly shaped it's not even funny like the Lexus LFA or Nissan GTR (totally different class but still awful to look at).