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>> It's the latest thing in the car biz, crossover SUVs with coupe-like lines. Doesn't do a hell of a lot for practicality, but it sure looks better than driving a crossover that has that stink of a minivan all over it. So let's roll with the Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L four-wheel drive with nav and check the tech.
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Our copy of this mind-bending vision of the Accord is finished in this blue-green color they call opal sage over a black leather cabin. It's a flattering color on this car, which could be a good thing. Now, once you're inside the Accord Crosstour, you're kind of inside an Accord: a very familiar Honda cabin, very familiar center stack. We know this knob. I'm not crazy about it, but I guess I've gotten used to it over the years. And years is the key phrase, because this guide device and that interface haven't changed in years. Really not since CNET's been covering car tech. That's like five years now. So you know what that looks like. It's not a touch screen. It's a good thing, because it's about nine miles away from you. But you do have this knob you can dial in and out of maps with. That's not a real pleasant experience, because the map quality on this thing is still just kind of coarse and crunchy. Now, aside from the aesthetic shortcomings, it's not a bad system to use. It would do something like enter a destination. It's easy to get there. Labels and icons are big. Rotating around isn't hard to do. Couple little gripes I have. When you're going to enter a street name or a city or what have you, yes; it does have predictive text, but it still require you to click over and actually negotiate letters that aren't possible. Why would you do that? Other features on this system, of course, include live traffic, categories of places, your typical POIs. You've got those Zagat restaurant ratings. Honda Acura were the first to have those. They're kind of useful. Now, refreshed more than that dated nav unit is the audio system, which is a little more contemporary than it used to be. You got AM FM radio, of course. No HD radio on this guy. Your sound settings are relatively straightforward, and there's a subwoofer control, as well. Total of seven speakers, so six speakers plus the sub. Bluetooth Hands Free is not stock on a base Crosstour. Again, you've got to bump up to what's called the EX-L package like we have here. And this gives you this rather bewildering array of buttons right here. You've got voice buttons for the phone and another set of voice buttons to drive the navigation head unit. We've also got a six-disc CD changer down here, six slots in dash here. It'll eat up MP3 and WMA disks. Again, pretty garden variety stuff. Here inside the console we've got an AUX jack, your standard mini for analog connections and this little USB pigtail right alongside it that ends in a female USB on a cable. You can hook up your iPod-class device to it like we have here and take a look at the interface. And here's how it represents the iPod menu. Again, it breaks it down to a completely different interface; but your basics are in there. Now, up here in the engine room is a single-choice only three and a half liter V6. That's all you can have on a Crosstour. VCM, variable cylinder management. It's kind of interesting. Normally runs on six cylinders when you're in the power. But if you're cruising under light throttle, though, the engine will sense that and go down to four cylinders or even three if you're just really on a nice, level road at a very given set speed. It does that using servo actuators on the camshaft as opposed to other sorts of technologies that other car companies use. And, of course, shuts down the fuel flow to the cylinder and all that. You still get some pumping losses in drag, but it does help the mileage. For example, even with this all-wheel drive car, which tends to be piggier than front-wheel drive, we're going to get 17 25. And, again, it's kind of a big, bulky package you're shoving through the air. Get the front-wheel drive car and your MPG goes up to 18 27. Not bad for a car with 271 horsepower, 254-foot pounds of torque, and 0 to 60 in seven seconds. Now, of course, the big headline on this car is the shape and style. It is a sedan Accord made bigger and taller and coupe-UV-ish. Think Toyota Venza; BMW X6; Acura ZDX, kind of a stable mate of this guy. The question is, do you find this to be an attractive car? Because it's not a great use of space. It's, you know, spacious enough inside with more head room. But back here you don't have true SUV cargo capacity. There's a big sacrifice for the kind of sleek body style involved here. So it's kind of like the empty nester's SUV.
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To Honda's credit, the Accord Crosstour drives like an Accord, which is something a lot of folks enjoy. It's a smooth driver and partly thanks to active sound control technology, which acoustically cancels out a wide range of noises coming from the environment and is also linked to throttle position and engine RPM to go after nasty engine sounds. Handling and acceleration are without any glaring faults. Dropping into D3 on the gear selector gets you out of that loafing top gear and reminds you that Honda makes a very nice V6. In all, the Accord Crosstour both looked better than I expected and got down the road the same way too. An Accord Crosstour EX-L with nav and all-wheel drive starts at about 36,200. But you can get into a base Crosstour for right around 30. Now, our car has the nav package. That added $2,200. And if you didn't want all-wheel drive, you can shave 1450 off the sticker. You're probably not taking this guy off road, so think about it.
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