– Spacious practical interior
– Comfortable ride quality
– Fair V6 fuel economy
– Needs more low-end grunt
– Lacks some tech features
– Buttons cluttering dashboard
Every manufacturer nowadays is looking for niches that didn’t exist before. Nobody even asked for these niches, but carmakers are on a quest to find “The Next Big Thing” so they give it a go anyway. This gave birth to four-door coupes, five-door gran turismos and even five-door SUV coupes. Some were successful while others were not. Now Honda is trying their hand in originality with the Honda Accord Crosstour — essentially an Accord with character.
As a favour to Honda fanboys, we’ll refrain from commenting on the Crosstour’s looks and let the photos do the talking. In all honesty though, the car is quite eye-catching, “nice” even, simply by virtue of its uniqueness. Its closest competitor is the BMW 5-Series GT, and that looks much worse than this American-built Honda while costing twice as much. The Crosstour certainly offers more visual drama than the humdrum Accord sedan, what with the angrier headlights, massive grille, swoopy profile, lower side-cladding and a two-piece rear window.
The Crosstour looks low-slung, but is actually lifted by maybe 5 cm over the sedan, with a roof that is over 19 cm higher. Ironically, the driving position had us at eye-level with drivers of regular sedans. Inside, the interior is exactly the same as that of the sedan, with a black dash and everything else in beige, with some wood trim separating the contrasting colours. There is a fair smattering of soft-touch materials along the upper door sills and part of the dash, though further reaches of the dash are hard plastic. The creamy leather on the seats, door inserts and armrests are superbly premium.
There isn’t any extra passenger space over the sedan. But the Accord was spacious to begin with, so legroom is immense. Even headroom is good, although the rear passengers may have the ceiling slightly closer to their scalp than in the sedan. The powered front seats have moderate bolstering, while the rear bench can split-fold at the tug of a lever. The practicality simply starts there, as the rear hatch offers a huge opening for a sizeable boot, with a carpeted floor that can be flipped over to become a rubberised floor for dirty stuff. Under the floor is also a compartment to hide things as big as pet dogs. And strewn about the cabin are four covered cup-holders, door pockets, and a central cubby up front.
Other features include the usual power accessories, memory driver’s seat, cruise control, sunroof, HID headlights, front and side-curtain airbags, keyless entry and a decent CD/MP3 stereo with USB and AUX ports. The dual-zone a/c is excellent in the summer heat, with rear vents too. But as cluttered with buttons as the centre console looks, there aren’t any further features to speak of. There is no trip computer, no parking sensors, no navigation, no Bluetooth phone and no starter buttons here, even though the Crosstour only comes in one “fully-loaded” trim.
The standard motor is the Accord’s 3.5-litre V6, generating 271 hp at 6200 rpm and 339 Nm of peak torque at a high 5000 rpm. Mated to a 5-speed automatic with slightly-delayed paddle-shifters, the Crosstour feels slow when taking off from idle, but feels powerful when already up to speed and overtaking on the highway. Maybe 200 kilos heavier than the sedan, our all-wheel-drive Crosstour managed the 0-100 kph run in 8.8 seconds in our June testing, although with only 400 km on the clock, it’ll probably be quicker once the engine is broken in. The beautifully-revving V6 can invisibly turn off up to 3 cylinders to save fuel, and our estimates plug the fuel consumption at 12.5 litres/100 km, with regular use of cruise control.
The Crosstour has more ground clearance than a Ford Edge or a Nissan Murano, but the driver’s eyes are at the same level as in any regular sedan. This means the driving experience is just like piloting a regular car, complete with all the inherent stability around corners that a lower height brings.
We were throwing the Crosstour around at will, and it took the tyre-squealing in its stride more easily than most crossovers. It possibly has slightly more body roll than the sedan, but it is kept well under control. The mildly-weighted steering has some feel but response is noticeably lazier, probably on purpose for lazy straight-line cruising. The 225/60 tyres on 18-inchers squeal early and often, but this simply means that it predictably reaches its grip limits earlier than the lighter sedan, doing so safely and gradually, making it easy to push the car and have some fun. There is all-wheel-drive and stability control systems to keep things in check, but they are hardly needed by competent drivers. Even the adequate disc brakes were easy to modulate, so much so that we were managing hard stops without the ABS needing to intervene.
Cruising around town isn’t too tough. We just had to compensate for the slightly longer length around tight turns, and use old-fashioned estimation for reverse-parking, given its lack of sensors. Visibility out the back is limited, but enough could still be seen to make informed decisions, especially with the help of seemingly larger wing mirrors. On the highway, ride comfort is very good, on par with the best midsize sedans, with limited rebound over large dips and very mild jitteriness over certain uneven surfaces. Wind noise is noticeable only after 100 kph, and even then it is just a constant hush and the ride is generally quiet.
There is no hint of any offroad ability, what with the long front-rear overhangs and lack of 4×4 locks. This is actually a good thing, as the all-wheel-drive Crosstour has no pretensions of looking like a poseur “offroader,” but is simply an all-weather crossover. It was at ease on uneven gravel trails that we encountered, in the middle of our half-constructed city no less, and we assume it will do perfectly fine on the beach and in the rain.
The Crosstour is a vehicle that either slaps people the wrong way, or amazes them with its looks. Whatever it is, this is a more practical Accord that costs a bit more for a whole lot of utility and much-needed character. It is missing some key tech features that would’ve made it a truly premium vehicle, but its target buyers may not even notice. The controversial styling will be all that matters to those who want one.
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