There are guys at my gym that work out hard, three times a day, chiseling their chests and abs to perfection, compensating for the fact that God didn’t give them High School Musical faces. They are masterpieces of strength, structure – everything other than looks. From now on, I will secretly call them Crosstours.
Honda’s newest addition to their Accord line is not ugly. Don’t let the pile-on from a Facebook crowd that was never in the market for this type of vehicle in the first place confuse you. In person, especially in white or silver, it’s not a half-bad car. Actually, it’s only about 23% bad car. From the grill to start of the rear glass, I like the sheet metal quite a bit. Most of this car is an aggressive take on the Accord. The designers gave up when they got to the rump. Still, at eye-level the car is fine. No lust, no revulsion.
There is a good deal of silliness, though. What I really dislike about the butt of this beast is the compromised utility. To what end the sloping rear end? I don’t get it. The Crosstour is akin to a decent – if unattainable in the US – Accord wagon with a space handicap. If there’s always going to be some of your spouse’s stuff in the back, why not just give us a proper station wagon? The people who want this car want storage room and can obviously deprecate the importance of style. This design provides 25.7 cu-ft. (seats up) and 51.3 cu-ft (seats down.) A more wagonesque design could give you numbers closer to the Toyota Venza (34.4 / 70.1) and, arguably, betters lines.
All of which is doubly disappointing because this is best Accord you can buy – you know, aside from the tragic ending. Crosstours come with Honda’s 271 hp 3.5-liter V6, putting out 254 lb-ft of torque. The engine itself is lovable. The consistent, energetic response is ready throughout the power band. This is, however, a 4,000 lb automobile. You can’t spend time in this car, with this engine, and not wish it would hit the gym.
This six has cylinder-deactivation to bring the gas mileage up to 18/27 mpg city/highway (FWD) and 17/25 mpg (AWD). Which also partially explains the lack of engine choices. In the Accord sedans, the four-cylinder only bests the six by two miles per gallon, so I’ll assume similar results for this configuration. Yes, that means occasionally you’re driving two tons with a three-banger. To Honda’s credit, it’s pretty though to tell.
The Crosstour’s transmission du jour is a five-speed automatic with rev-matching downshifts. On its way up the cogs, the tranny stays well behaved. It tried not to leap up to the next gear before I was ready. On the way down, the rev-matching was quick . . . but almost too quick. Kind of jarring. Like you’re teaching someone else to drive a manual. Of course, by this point I was getting on the thing. Day to day, most Honda owners will be quite content.
The overall feel of the car – in all-wheel drive form – is more comfortable than its sedan siblings. I can’t decide if the added bulk counters the little bumps and holes of the road or Honda actually tuned this more for touring than carving. Probably a little of both. The car’s body roll is present, but way less than you’d expect. The vehicle dynamics are an improvement for the platform. The AWD gives you a slightly better weight distribution and, under load, it evens out the front-wheel drive tug. This is the most fun you can have in an Accord.
Not that any of them were built for fun, per se. The four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are up to the challenge. Firm and predictable. The steering floats a little too much for my taste. The breeziness has a point, though, as the turning circle is just over 40 feet. Above illegal speeds you want a heavier feel. When parallel parking, you want all the help you can get.
Our test car stickered at $37,035. That gives you all the gizmos Honda has to offer, including a navigation system I didn’t bother with. It does not give you Honda’s top shelf, super-all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD). All Crosstours get a simple set up that sends power backwards when it feels like, rather than a four-way distribution system. I got to test the car in the wet and the traction is certainly better the FWD variants. There is no suction cup effect, a la Acura.
You do get an Acura interior. The basic Accord moldings dress up nicely. The extra pieces of leather and wood make the space more inviting. The brushed metal looks better than it feels. Living in a cold climate, I continue to appreciate Honda’s over-sized buttons. Gloves-on ergonomics are more than sufficient.
The trunk area is smart. The side wells intrude some, but the bin in the floor is brilliant. It has handles. You can take the whole thing out and cart stuff around and wash it when you’re done. The lid flips, if you want to keep at least that part of the carpet clean.
The dealer that loaned me a Crosstour had already delivered its first four. Honda devotees bought them sight unseen, without a single turn of the wheel. That probably says more than I did in the previous 11 paragraphs. There is a car-buying public that can get past looks and handicaps to simply accept a car for what it really is . . . Whatever that is. I’m not sold on this whole fat five-door sub genre. Just because BMW does it doesn’t make it right. The Crosstour is good enough to make me wish for a pretty Accord wagon. Yes, I am that shallow.