By on June 27, 2019

Throughout the 1980s, and into the middle of the nineties, Honda reassured themselves that the sports utility vehicle craze was just a fad. The company spent years refusing to develop their own SUVs of any caliber, and instead turned to other companies (eventually) to fill gaps in the model lineup.

Honda did rebadging work to various extents, and then sold the borrowed SUVs around the world. Today’s Rare Ride is one such offering, though it’s more obscure then all of its stablemates down at Honda Rebadge Corral. Let’s check out a Honda Crossroad, from 1993. 

Honda first entered the hot SUV market in 1993 with two offerings, supplemented by an additional sibling in 1994. For ’93 the company’s global SUV was a lightly reworked Isuzu Rodeo, sold as the Passport. For the Japanese domestic market and a few special customers in New Zealand, the Land Rover Discovery started a new life as the Crossroad. In 1994, Honda started borrowing the Isuzu Trooper for markets outside North America, and selected a prestigious American-type name: Horizon. North American customers received a Honda-tized Trooper with the Acura SLX, but sales didn’t start until 1996.

Model lesson over, back to Crossroad.

The Crossroad had a difficult birth. Though market research showed the SUV market was so hot at the time, Honda couldn’t easily rebadge a Land Rover and sell it to North America as a less prestigious marque. But the Discovery was ripe for the picking: Honda’s overseas operations and Rover were very familiar with one another via a long-standing cooperative agreement. Rover needed Honda’s engineering assistance in making reliable cars. North American customers reaped the benefits of the partnership via ruined Acura Legends called the Sterling 827. “Japan will buy the Discovery,” they thought.

On sale in October of 1993 as a ’94 model, Honda slipped the Crossroad into its vast domestic dealership network. Changes were minimal, and included some badges, and different wheel designs in some cases. All Crossroads had the 3.9-liter Rover V8 (though they wore the Discovery’s TDI grille), and were the first and only commercial Honda passenger cars with eight cylinders. Japanese road tax on 3.9 liters displacement was substantial. But even discounting the taxation issue, all was not well.

The H badge on the front didn’t stop the Crossroad from having British levels of reliability. Imagine the pleasure Japanese Honda mechanics felt when a Crossroad pulled into the service bay next to an Aerodeck. Early on in the Crossroad’s life, Honda received troubling news: Rover lost its independence via a sale to BMW.

Honda wasn’t pleased, and BMW’s chairman made a quick flight over to Japan to try and keep the deal afloat. Whatever he said worked, and the partnership stayed intact. The Crossroad remained on sale at Japanese Honda dealerships through 1998, which coincided with the conclusion of the Discovery I’s production. By then the much more palatable and conventional CR-V was available, and Honda’s SUV offering woes began to subside.

Today’s Rare Ride is located in Greenville, which is in South Carolina. Other photos show the owner is one of the growing number of JDM vehicle importers. In clean condition, the asking price is $9,995.

[Images: seller]

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34 Comments on “Rare Rides: Discovering the Honda Crossroad of 1993...”

  • avatar

    Still my #1 top badge engineering product ever.

    Yes, this is better than the Aston Martin Cygnet.

    Fight me.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My favorite one is the Toyota Cavalier…which is exactly what it sounds like. Since GM got to sell the NUMMI-built Corolla as a Geo Prism, Toyota got to sell the Cavalier under its own name in Japan. Well, that’s not quite how it went. From what I understand, Toyota did it rather desperately, in order to prevent being placed under more import restrictions, as far as the US was concerned.

      The Toyota Cavalier is my favorite rebadge purely because of how pointless it was. It wasn’t a nice car to begin with, for the discerning Japanese public, and due to its engine displacement and general size…it incurred the same taxes and road-going costs as far superior and better-built cars, like the Nissan Skyline and Toyota’s own Mark II.

  • avatar

    A Honda-badged Rover-built SUV with financial backing from BMW and an engine developed by Buick in the early 60s.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The Trooper (Acura SLX) and Rodeo (Honda Passport) we got in North America were quality vehicles. This rebadged Discovery, probably less so.

    I find it humorous that the only ladder-frame, truck-based vehicles Honda ever sold were sourced entirely from other companies. Not that it’s had any real impact on them. They’re very good at what they do.

  • avatar

    OK, I vibe with this, but I’m utterly clueless about Land Rover reliability. If these are decent runners, it’s not a half bad deal if the dealer comes down a bit.

    And, Corey, you have to figure out who this dealer is – based on the picture below, this place is JDM Unicorn Car Nirvana.

    Looks like this place has a Mazda Eunos.

  • avatar

    Guessing the service manager had a little fun with the spare tire cover turning the “S” to “$” given the fact that service on a “Land Rover” probably put his kids through braces, private school, college, and paid off the boat!

    Still a good old, honest SUV (when it runs) that you can pretty much beat up anywhere off the beaten trail. I had forgotten about those way-back jump seats though…hope you don’t get carsick!

    • 0 avatar

      Nope those dollar sign S things are part of that model name!

    • 0 avatar

      A friend had one back in the 90s and drove it for 10 years and 120k miles and the only issue was a rear door rattle that was fixed under warranty. Only one data point of course but I always wonder how accurate car blog commenter lore actually is when it comes to historic vehicle reliability.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve had one, a ’95 base model – no sunroofs with a stickshift for a few years, I’ve put about 10K on it, had 126K when I bought it. Minty fresh one owner truck from San Diego. Only issue has been replacing the alternator. It leaks various oils in true British fashion, but other wise runs great. They do rust though.

        I like it a lot. Tows the boat, fantastic in snow and for a 2-ton garden shed on wheels it actually drives very nicely. Not fast, can get 18mpg driven gently.

  • avatar

    I had no idea that Honda slapped it’s name on this dog poop. Would have been ok with the Discovery body and Honda running gear. Corey, you should track down an old Sterling for an odd ball mating

    • 0 avatar

      Your wish granted in 2017.

      • 0 avatar

        That was a fun article.

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you for the laugh and memories! I remember getting into cars around 12 or 13 years old across the state in Marietta. Pretty small town – around 15,000 at the time. A neighbor of mine, a dentist I believe, bought one of these 1987 Sterlings and was SO proud of it! Do you know how many times we saw a flatbed in their driveway? The closest dealer was in Columbus…2 hours away! It became the running joke of the neighborhood.
        Of course their other car was a new Camry, and I don’t think it ever died!

      • 0 avatar

        Ah yes. I haven’t seen an 825 (or an 827) in a looooooong time. I knew a guy one time that worked at a local indy British car repair shop, after being laid off from his engineering job (he’d owned and wrenched on numerous MGs and Jags of his own, plus, the shop owner was a friend). I happened by the shop one day during lunch to visit (this was in the mid ’90s), and an 825 SLi was there, with electrical problems – legendary Rover quality.

        • 0 avatar

          Worked with 2 guys, 1 with a Legend, the other with the Sterling.

          The Sterling was a POS. The ownership of that thing didn’t last a year before
          losses were cut. The legend owner got 10 years out of his.

          The Sterling had little plastic end caps on each side of the car where
          the grill met the fenders. I think in some markets there were lights in that spot.
          This guy has a brand new car and both fell out within a couple of weeks.

          Do a bing image search for “sterling 827”. There’s 2 cars within the first 20 images
          missing that cap.

          • 0 avatar

            They weren’t end caps, they were corner lights, but you are correct- the covers fell off regularly. Many years ago I bought a 1-owner 1990 827SL (by that time many of the bugs had been worked out) and the first time I washed it at the car wash I hit one of the corner lights with the sprayer and it went flying off.

    • 0 avatar

  • avatar

    I don’t get it. Everyone complaining about LR reliability while some of my friends run their Discoveries and Defenders (all Diesel, outside of the US) for 20, sometimes 30 years, and the trucks simply keep going. I don’t understand.
    Me? I’m a Toyota guy, but my personal circle runs these trucks for decades and absolutely love them.
    What am I missing?

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of people are just repeating what they read somewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      I know three people who owned Discos and one who owned a 1st gen Freelander (the horror!!!)
      One of the Discos wasn’t that bad. I recall him saying there were squeaks and rattles way too soon, but was still solid even after 4-5 years.
      The other two people just had nightmares and swore off of the brand. Leaks, falling off trim, pieces falling off of the interior, random warning lights, mechanical gremlins, you name it, it happened. One of those Discos had those problems after around 10,000 miles. The other made it (I think) 2-3 years before the floodgates opened up.
      The less said about the Freelander, the better. I lost touch with her so never found out the outcome, but I want to say it was heading to lemon law proceedings over engine or electrical issues. It was still under warranty, but the car was basically dead.
      The Defenders I know of were basically bulletproof, but there wasn’t too much on them to break – the ones I rode in were old technology and rugged as all hell. But the Discovery models…ouch. Have to say it, but from my experience, as much as I liked the design and the ruggedness of them, it just didn’t translate into quality.
      Which is too bad because I think Land Rover still has a really nice style motif today, and yet their quality scores (beyond JD Power) are still bottom tier. If I had to choose ANY SUV or crossover, it would be a 2 or 3 year lease on a Land Rover, keeping my fingers crossed the entire time.

      • 0 avatar

        Funny, a lot of what you cited could also be said about the Darts and Valiants. They had the same sort of things that broke/fell off, but you could find replacements in any junkyard, and you didn’t have to match the year.

        They also had the slant-six and torqueflite that helped those cars run and run and run. If you could wrench and had access to a pick and pull, or knew an honest independent mechanic, you could keep the costs down and be satisfied with the reliability.

        It may well be that some of those much-maligned vehicles could be kept going at reasonable cost, just like the Dart/Valiant.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    JLR has one of the best CPO warranties around,I bought our Disco Sport with 5k miles on it and have a bumper to bumper 6yr/100k warranty. For the price of a loaded CRV.I’ve had it back for an intake sensor as the only nonschedule service at 32k now.
    Its a car that doesn’t get a lot of love here because its really not super luxurious and rides rough, but in its native market it’s more of a pedestrian utility vehicle. I think the transmission is as good (or not ) as our 18 Sienna’s 8spd. It can tow 4400lbs and has pretty decent soft road cred.all the platics/fabrics are durable appearing and have worn really well.
    I haven’t been able to go to any off road luncheons Aritocrat Motors throws bi annually but I probably will at some point,because its gratis and sound like fun

    • 0 avatar

      In what native market is Discovery Sport a basic utility vehicle? And it might be a bit premature to praise plastics and fabric durability at 32k miles. Even Fiat can manage that much.

      And if it rides rough and is basic utility in another market, shouldn’t it have more than soft road cred to make up for it?

    • 0 avatar

      So you bought a fancy Ford Escape for loaded CR-V money. Sweet.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Actually, I’m with you on the appeal of the Discovery Sport. It’s a helluva lot more useful and capable than other compact premium crossovers. It’s kind of the Swiss Army Knife of the segment. They have the Evoque for the more luxury/fashion-minded buyers.

  • avatar

    I like it a lot
    (I’m just repeating what I read somewhere).

  • avatar

    This ride is awesome.

  • avatar

    The Rover V8 was of course the Buick V8 which in fairness to Rover they improved and improved of decades. In fact Rover did such a good job with the engine that GM tried to buy the right back to it again. GM had managed to create a lightweight V8 at a time when there wasn’t much call for one, only later did they realise it’s true value, it’s a fascinating story in its own right.

    As for Land Rovers I love personally think that the problem with the current crop is that they are far too complex. They are the most complex cars you can buy. Think about the door handles on a Velar alone. They need to step back and simplify their designs, it’s not an assembly problem. Same goes for Jaguar, why put rotating air vents in a car?

    Having said all of the above I would buy one, why? Because it is complex and they are different. Vive la difference I say!

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