The Truth About Cars » crosstour The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:52:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » crosstour Vellum Venom: 2012 Honda Crosstour Tue, 30 Jul 2013 12:42:32 +0000 title

Here are a few books I consider required reading for Transportation Design students: The Reckoning, Rude Awakening, All Corvettes are Red and Car: A Drama of the American Workplace.  These show what it takes to make a car…to make a designer’s work come to fruition.

Sadly, during my (short) time at the College for Creative Studies, we focused on creativity at all costs: pay no attention to the business behind the curtain.  So while the Honda Crosstour is a curious stylistic exercise, does this dog hunt in the real world?



First, let’s just be surprised (impressed?) this design made production.  The Crosstour’s XXL-sized grin proves something in the land of bloated CUVs, perhaps giving the impression there’s a big rig Cummins Turbo diesel behind it? This grille needs a good head shrinker, so to speak.



While the grille’s 2013 redesign (scroll to the end) helps tremendously, this frame’s massive size combined with its dull gray plastic frame doesn’t impress.  To the 2012′s credit, the wraparound grille’s teeth add visual excitement not available with the 2013′s thick, wholly generic chrome rim.

The hard angles and modest chrome trim catches the eye, though a body color paint job in lieu of the gray plastic is price appropriate.



One of my more favorite angles: the hood sports sweeping and fluid creases, in the proud Detroit tradition of long noses for overt style and swagger.  Unlike every other CUV, the Crosstour has some Vista Cruiser DNA. Not enough wretched excess, but the proportions and general attitude are the closest we’ve seen in a long while to yesteryear’s Olds wagon.


Aside from the appealing wedge at the bumper’s base, this nose is way over-styled. Note the headlight’s uncomfortable transition from the pleasantly proportioned yellow reflector to that massive center signal light with oversized black plastic frame: necessary to integrate the bloated grille into the bumper’s demure-ish form. Honda designer’s did a reasonable job cramming 10lbs of shit into a 5lb bag, indeed.

Then clock the fog light: the negative area (in the paint) at the leading edge of the fog light assembly needs to disappear to reduce the bumper clutter.


That said, the over styled negative area is trick when zooming in. Except for the fake slots in the black plastic: a smarter-textured alternative wouldn’t cost much more! Hell, make it out of  fake carbon fiber instead of this Band-Aid look.


The bumper’s strong lower wedge is also present from here.  The lower grille’s texture is simple, logical, and remarkably well proportioned…unlike so many elements on the Crosstour.


Shades of the Accord: the Crosstour’s headlights, fender flares and the fender/door’s swage line harken back to the last-gen Accord.  It’s all good, because the Crosstour is a station wagon at heart.  Aside from the suspension lift kit, clearly seen here by the big wheels and poseur-tall ride height.

But just wait…the lifted station wagon theme gets worse as we go further back.

6The chamfered edge of this flare is unique, and worthy of possible implementation elsewhere in automobilia.  The only problem? It tends to fight other elements presented on the Crosstour’s body.


Like the rim of the 1999-ish Chevrolet Silverado (and countless other GM products from this era) these fake wheel holes don’t evoke extra strength, performance or curb appeal. They merely look cheap. Either you add a hole at the bottom of this space or you fill it in. No excuses.


The Crosstour’s cowl is tidy enough, except that it’s not: the A-pillar’s bulk(?) requires a plastic filler panel for the fender to meet with the base of the windshield. A poor implementation, perhaps stemming from the Accord cowl’s inadequacies for CUV duty?

9But wait…did this just happen?  NO DLO FAIL?  The A-pillar, fender and door are so happy together?  ZOMG SON THE CROSSTOUR IS TEH BOMB!

9_1Another shot of the Accord-esque swageline.  Unlike most swagelines that start small but grow upwards, the Crosstour’s goes down as it enters the front door.  While not hideous, it’s certainly bizarre…you’ll see why in the next shot.

Combine the odd swage line with the fake slots (nestled in a negative area in the rocker panel) and there’s a lack of correlation. The design gets undefined, busy and generally messy.  That bolt-on mudflap could keep more dirty lines from entering the equation, but the Crosstour’s undersized affairs don’t match the fender flare’s prodigious width, nor do they hide that line separating the fender and the rocker panel.

Visualize the alternative: reduce the fender flare’s width, fatten the mud flap and make the swage line “bend” at the deepest part of the negative area (i.e. the top row of slots) and bingo: a cleaner implementation.


Speaking of, make the fake slots go away!  Banish them to the land of silver painted interior trim and faux fender vents! And, by the way, thank you for not putting fender vents on this beast. 

Unlike the Pontiac Aztek’s profile, the Crosstour isn’t wholly hideous.  There’s a bit of five-door hatch, a smidgen of AMC Eagle wagon, and the sky high beltline of a modern vehicle. Which definitely makes the Crosstour something unique, if not outstanding.

While this Evox image is too perfectly manicured, the Crosstour’s front-to-back flow works well.  There’s a smart up kick around the rear door handle, a tough shoulder line (that shadow) above the taillight, a fast D-pillar, and a strong static line at the base of the doors that elengantly merges with the rear wheel’s arch. It all flows nicely without being too bubbly or too square.

And no DLO fail to speak of. Woot!


Not so pretty in the flesh, eh?  First, the matte black C-pillar needs to be shinier to go with the chrome trimming. Second, the door cut line crashes through the fender flare, instead of following/dancing with that arch. More to the point, integrate the door cut line into the lowest point of the fender flare’s negative area. Sure, this exposes more rocker paneling, but draping door sheetmetal over everything looks decidedly…cheap.

Lastly, the swage line (what’s left of it) slams through the door handle’s negative area instead of flowing over: not elegant.


In case you missed it, here’s how the swage line intersects with the door handle’s negative area.  The line should be further north to avoid this mess. And while you don’t see the BIG problem yet, the body’s increasing height and bulk is becoming a problem.



That’s not to say the rear isn’t without charm: the fast D-pillar, tapered greenhouse (i.e. gets slightly smaller past the rear door) and slight tumblehome looks elegant and somewhat muscular. No other CUV can pull this off…hell, even the Porsche Panamera looks flabbier from this angle.


And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…drum roll please…the moment when the Crosstour goes from quirky and interesting to just plain offensive.

Because of the increasing height, the hatchback needs glass between the taillights and below the integral spoiler. (to improve visibility?) While that spoiler adds excitement, highlighting the acres of glass with a bubble dome hatchback like the Fox Body Mercury Capri woulda been so much sweeter.

Well, not sweet enough.  The Crosstour’s rounded bottom tries too hard to be a sporty 5-door hatchback. At this (ahem) elevation, that dog won’t hunt.  Instead of soaring upwards (at the side windows) the body’s belt line should remain static, emulating the height of the front door.  Combine that with a flatter/boxier butt (keeping the bubble dome hatchback idea) and there’d be a quirky cool version of the AMC Eagle instead.


The glass has interesting touches, like the floating Honda emblem. The defroster/defogger lines delightfully contour around said emblem and the integral washer nozzle at the top (not pictured, my bad) are also a minimalist’s treat.  In a world of afterthought CUV emblems, oversized and haphazardly slapped on a tailgate’s limited real estate, the Crosstour did a good job right here.



Too bad the wiper arm can’t hide under that spoiler!  While the Crosstour’s strong haunches (above the taillights) and tumblehome are both sporty and elegant, everything goes horribly wrong south of the license plate. No more tall buffalo butts, please!

While the taillights start at the “end point” of the spoiler, they aren’t flush with the hatchback.  The lense’s silver insert has no logical reason for its location: moving lower, where the hatch bends at the base of the glass would help integrate the form and reduce unnecessary “lines” on the body. (i.e. start the silver where that indoor light’s hard reflection is on the hatchback.)


What a mess! These hard lines make no sense with the upper half’s round glass and muscular haunches in the quarter panels. They are too harsh for too “long” of a form on this body.  Unrefined!

Either the northern hemisphere needs some hard bends or this area needs softening up.  Much like how the rear doors blanket over the natural location of the rocker panels, the tail lights shouldn’t be exposed in this bumper fold.  The lights should be smaller to let the painted bumper flow naturally from the bottom of the tailgate to the base of the roof: one simple, logical sweep of painted body. Too bad about that!


Once more: too many harsh lines, accentuated by rounded and beveled tailpipes.  Combined with the softer stuff up top and the excessive height brought about from the rear doors, the Crosstour’s butt steals defeat from the hands of victory.**

**provided you believe that a quirky alternative to a CUV is a good thing!2013_redesignAnd yes, a quirky alternative to a CUV is a worthy endeavor for any designer.  And any would-be CUV buyer, at least in theory.

While the 2013 model looks a bit more interesting (especially in brown, ‘natch) the Crosstour doesn’t fit the CUV bill. When you combine CUV, hatchback and station wagon in this manner, you insult all three automotive genres in one vellum rendering. Too bad about that, because this idea has potential. And possibly merit.

Thanks for reading, have a great week.

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Comparison Review: Toyota Venza Versus Honda Crosstour: First Place: Honda Crosstour Fri, 22 Jan 2010 14:34:38 +0000

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.

Crosstour Crosstour Crosstour Crosstour Crosstour Crosstour Crosstour Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 74
Review: 2010 Honda Crosstour Wed, 16 Dec 2009 16:30:37 +0000 crosstour

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.

crosstour2Honda’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. crosstour1

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.

crosstour4Not 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. crosstour3

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.

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Hate The Honda Crosstour? You’ve Been Heard Wed, 28 Oct 2009 19:12:04 +0000

No, Honda’s Accord-based Crossover sin-against-nature hasn’t been canceled, but it is being cannibalized (sort of). Acura has announced [via Autoblog] that a TSX Sportwagon will be offered beginning with the 2011 model year. In short, if you begged Honda to bring a Euro-spec Accord wagon to market, your pleas have been answered… as long as you’re willing to shell out at Acura prices. More information as it becomes available… meanwhile, notch up another promising sign in the Honda column.

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