2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L AWD
Honda Accord Crosstour
The new Honda Accord Crosstour looks weird. Its nose is too long, its roofline a little too low, and the back end comes from outer space, with no known automotive predecessor. If an elephant sat on an SUV, you might end up with something like the Crosstour. But weird is not necessarily bad.
The 2010 Crosstour is undeniably functional; the rear hatch has inserts that lets it be either a large cargo space or a traditional closed trunk. And once in the driver's seat, the car feels like a Honda Accord, until you look in the rear-view mirror. With its horizontally bisected rear glass, the view out the back looks the same as in a Prius or Insight.
The Crosstour that we reviewed was in EX-L trim, with the surprising addition of all-wheel drive. As we drove it up a rocky embankment to position it for a photo shoot, it began to feel like a capable off-road vehicle, high enough from the ground not to bottom out on a ridge. With the Crosstour, Honda is stepping into Subaru's market, offering a carlike all-wheel driver with enough cabin room for weekend ski trips.
An Acura interface
In EX-L trim, the cabin features wood trim, leather seats, and generally soft plastics covering every surface. The effect falls a little short of luxury, but it is nicely done overall. Familiar to us from many drives in Acuras was the large knob in the center of the stack, below the navigation LCD. This knob works as a joystick and dial to make selections onscreen. The Crosstour dashboard and steering wheel also suffer from button overload, a disease caught from Acura as well.
Honda loads up the Crosstour's dashboard with buttons.
What the Crosstour didn't get from Acura was traffic and weather data integrated with the navigation system. As we drove this car along the freeways in the San Francisco Bay Area, we missed seeing the colored lines that indicate traffic flow, or the icons showing where an accident occurred. This lack of traffic integration was surprising, as the car does have XM Satellite Radio, which offers a traffic service.
Likewise, the navigation system lacks 3D maps, something which is becoming more and more common. The 2D maps are perfectly usable, however, showing street names with good resolution. The system's route guidance graphics are also decent, but it doesn't show lane guidance, nor does it read out the names of streets. The one standout feature in this otherwise average navigation system is the Zagat ratings integrated into the points-of-interest database, identifying good restaurants in certain cities.
Zagat ratings integrated in the navigation system help you find good restaurants.
After going over the navigation system, we expected the rest of the Crosstour's cabin tech to be about average or below, but the car had some unexpected treats. Popping open the console, we found a USB port, and were impressed when it worked seamlessly with an iPhone, showing the music library on the car's LCD.
Similarly, after pairing the iPhone to the car's Bluetooth phone system, the car gave us the option of importing the phone's contact list to the car. The full contact list was available on the car's LCD.
The audio system, although lacking a name brand, was also surprisingly good. It excelled in clarity, making the swipe of fingers over nylon guitar strings apparent, for example, or letting us hear a bell ringing clearly amid a complex, layered track. The low frequencies seemed underwhelming, until we played a track featuring heavy bass.
The only complaint we have about this audio system is its weak staging. Too much of the sound emanated from the door we happened to be sitting next to. Good digital signal processing would make the sound seem to come from the center of the dashboard. This audio system makes do with six speakers, the subwoofer, and a 360-watt amp.
Active sound deadening
One reason why this audio system sounds so good might be because Honda fitted the Crosstour with its active noise cancellation system, previously used on Acura models. This system uses a microphone in the cabin to listen for preset unwanted frequencies, then sends a counter-frequency through the audio system to cancel it out. Music playback benefits from the equipment needed to pull off that bit of sound-deadening magic.
Most of the sound that needs deadening comes from the 3.5-liter V-6, standard on all trim levels of the Crosstour. This is also the engine used in V-6 versions of the Honda Accord, and in just about every V-6 model from Honda. Using Honda's i-VTEC valve-timing technology, this engine makes 271 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque.
The power doesn't sound like much, but it is adequate for the Crosstour. The car drives easily, very much like an Accord. Don't expect a rush of acceleration when you floor it, but we were able to complete passing maneuvers on two-lane highways without running head-on into oncoming traffic.
The Crosstour uses a five-speed automatic, with no option for manual gear shifting.
A five-speed automatic, the only transmission available, delivers the power seamlessly to the wheels. But this transmission doesn't have any manual gear select modes, relying on three low ranges for engine braking during descents.
Technically, this power train is pretty average--a solid, refined combination of engine and transmission in service with Honda for many years now.
As our car was an all-wheel-drive model, it took a hit in the fuel economy department, getting 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway in EPA testing, about 2 mpg less than the front-wheel-drive Crosstour. In our driving, we stuck around 20 mpg.
Honda calls the Crosstour's all-wheel drive "Real Time 4WD," but it really works like most all-wheel-drive cars on the road, sending torque to the rear wheels when the fronts slip. We put the car through some paces, driving a rain wet mountain road to check the cornering. There were a number of times the all-wheel drive made a difference, as we could feel the front wheels start to lose traction in the turn. The rear wheels took up the slack, helping the whole car dig in.
But this isn't the kind of driving you will want to do in the Crosstour. The suspension feels designed for a reasonably comfortable ride, but doesn't counteract to keep the car flat in the turns. As we went to every turn, the body swayed with inertial forces, suggesting that the Crosstour should be driven like the Accord model on which it is based.
Some people will think the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L is ugly, and some will like its looks, but however it is perceived, Honda certainly designed a unique-looking car that won't be mistaken for other models. And for that we give it design kudos. However, the poor cabin tech interface brings the design score down. As for the cabin tech itself, the navigation system is mostly average, but the stereo and phone system raise that score. The power train runs smooth, but excels neither in fuel economy nor power. It is solid, but does not push the tech envelope.
|Model||2010 Honda Accord Crosstour|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||20 mpg|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible six-disc changer|
|MP3 player support||iPod|
|Other digital audio||USB port, satellite radio, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||360-watt seven speaker|
|Driver aids||Rear-view camera|
|Price as tested||$36,930|