What is the purpose of the Crosstour? I asked as I waited for my test car to be readied. Pause. Finally an answer, The Crosstour is now the high-end Accord. It is designed to compete with the Toyota Venza. Ah, I get it: monkey see monkey do. What better way to give the marque a kick in the shorts than to pinch an idea from the market leader. And so they did. Almost. Partly. Sort of.
The most complementary thing that can be said about the Crosstour is that it is an Accord Coupe stretched to accommodate a second pair of doors. Bumper to bumper, it embodies a sportiness that is entirely lacking in the entirely too practical Venza. That’s not to say that the Crosstour is a hardened ‘bahn burner. Or that it isn’t a practical mobile for the modern family. Let’s just say that the car has a little of that magic that made earlier generations of the Accord sedan a good deal more satisfying to drive than your average family car.
My crystal black pearl colored Accord Crosstour EX looks longer, lower and wider than the Venza. In this case, looks are deceiving. While it is almost 8 inches longer, Crosstour is in fact 2.3 inches taller. The proportions are, of course, drastically different. While the Venza is an upright and boxy wagon, the hood of the Crosstour is long and low followed by a steeply raked windshield and, lastly, a big thick bootie. In profile it casts a silhouette that is, dare I say it, not unlike the Porsche Panamera. If for no other reason, you can see the Crosstour’s sporting aspirations in the 12 inch brake rotors glinting between the spokes of the rear wheels.
The penalties for the sleek exterior proportions are, of course, on the inside. With the rear seats upright, the cargo area is just 25.7 cu.ft. (51.3 cu.ft. with the seats folded). On paper that’s 4.4 cu.ft. smaller than Venza. In reality the difference is greater because much of the added cargo capacity created by the fastback design is an awkward space below the long sloping rear window. However, the space is infinitely more accessible than the pinched and restrictive sedan trunk because the entire rear window lifts up and out of the way.
Honda made the most of the rear space by replacing the spare tire wheel well with a commodious removable storage bin. The spare tire has been relocated up underneath the car in a retractable compartment, the bottom of which is streamlined to help undercarriage aerodynamics.
The dash is elegantly and intuitively laid out with outstanding ergonomics – with the exception of one grotesque flaw. The power outlet, auxiliary audio jack and USB port are located deep under the armrest at the back of the center console.
In a break from past Accord practice, the cabin is spooky quiet. Like a fastidious librarian, the Active Sound Control system utilizes the audio system to detect and shush unwanted noise frequencies before they reach your ears.
Only the sound of the high-strung 3.5 liter V6 engine is allowed to intrude for the entertainment of the driver. In classic Honda fashion, the drive train is tuned to keep the crankshaft whirling like a Dervish on crank, spending much of its time between 3500 and 4500 rpm in pedestrian stop and go traffic driving, about 500-800 rpms higher than the Toyota at any given speed. That means terrific responsiveness because you are almost always driving right in the meat of the engine’s power band. Additionally, the decisive 5-speed transmission tenaciously holds the correct gear when cornering.
To keep the inevitable fuel consumption of all of this revving in check, the engine is equipped with Variable Cylinder Management that deactivates two when cruising or three cylinders while coasting. At an estimated 18/27 mpg, Crosstour is 1 mpg worse than Venza in town but a tick better on the highway.
The ride quality of all of the new Accord models is outstanding, but the Crosstour gets the added benefit of sport tuning. More so than the drive train, these suspension tweaks have restored the trademark liveliness that Accord drivers have come to expect from Honda, but is missing from the lower trim models of the current generation. In sum, the car feels lighter and faster.
If cargo capacity were the only consideration the Toyota Venza would win hands down. However, the Crosstour offers greater-than-sedan utility while delivering superior handling and performance to any Camry, Venza, or current Accord sedan. Across the spectrum of options, the Crosstour cost four to five thousand dollars less than the comparably equipped Venza. When the Accord platform took on its current Giganto dimensions, it seemed that Honda gave up on giving its devotees a spirited driving experience. With the Crosstour the Honda Accord is back.