Posted: May 08, 2013

Executive wheels: A Honda missing in action

The curious lack of Crosstours on the road

Jeff Rundles

2013 HONDA CROSSTOUR 4WD EX-L N V6

Generally speaking, car reviewers get cars for two reasons: 1) they aren’t selling well; and, 2) the carmaker has plenty of supply and needs to move them. Cars that really sell well almost never become available to car reviewers, unless there have been wholesale changes made and the carmaker needs some extra excitement.

This explains why I almost never get a Honda to review. For the most part, they don’t need me to move metal, as the saying goes. So I suppose the fact that the Crosstour is in the press pool is an indication that the model isn’t selling well. I don’t have any sales figures, but unlike just about everything else I drive for review, I didn’t see another Crosstour around town the entire week I was behind the wheel.

And that is too bad, really, because the Crosstour is a magnificent vehicle.

This is really only the fourth model year for the Crosstour, and for the first three years it was marketed as the Accord Crosstour, since it is, essentially, a hatchback version of the popular Accord sedan. Now they just call it the Crosstour and that makes eminent sense in that this looks and feels like a completely different automobile than the Accord – sort of an Accord on steroids, and available, like my test-drive vehicle, in all-wheel-drive.

The Crosstour is a well-made, very comfortable, nicely appointed vehicle just like the venerable Accord, but it feels much more like a SUV. I’m not generally a big fan of hatchbacks – I much prefer sedans and/or classic SUVs with the liftgate in back, but this hatchback is really just a rounded version of the liftgate concept, so overall it looks like a speedy, aerodynamic SUV.

There are eithgt trims in the Crosstour line, from a base EX 2WD model with a 2.4-liter I4 engine with 192 hp selling for a base price of $27,230 (rated at 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway), up to this EX-L with navigation featuring a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 278 hp (rated at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway) and a base price of $37,090. The base price is also the final price (except for the addition of $830 in destination and handling) and that includes all of the normal luxuries, plus a lot of technology, including the fine navigation unit. This makes this – at first – relatively expensive car highly competitive.

Included in the eight trims offered in the line are only two that are AWD, and for the life of me I can’t get why anyone around these parts would buy a vehicle like this in 2WD. As an AWD vehicle, I loved this one. I drove it in April, which normally means that I didn’t get any winter weather conditions, but that was, of course, not the case this year. I drove it in the snow and on some icy roads, and it is among the finest AWD systems in existence.

On dry roads, it has wonderful handling characteristics – the car corners well, and is quite maneuverable in any kind of traffic.

The thing that really made the Crosstour very impressive is this 278 hp engine, coupled with the very smooth 6-speed automatic transmission.  This car is flat-out fast: It never surges like a turbo, but is very powerful, very smooth, speeding up to the desired speed with ease in any conditions. This would be a great road-trip car.

On the plus side is all of the technology and stuff crammed in here in the EX-L without added cost. Lane departure warning system. Daytime running lights. Leather seats and steering wheel. Bluetooth hands-free phone and navigation. A superb 360-watt stereo with all the tech hookups and operated through a touch screen. Pandora radio interface. Power moonroof. 18” alloy wheels. Rear camera.

One of the coolest things was the car’s side-view cameras with views to both sides of the car that capture the blind spots. I needed it often, especially on the passenger side, because the view over the shoulder and out of the smallish rear window in the rear-view mirror is restricted.

The only other thing I didn’t really like – and I am finding this more and more with many similarly equipped vehicles – is that the lock feature built into the keyless entry system, where, supposedly a touch of a hand will lock the doors, doesn’t always work.

All in all, though, this is a fine vehicle and highly recommended. I am still curious why there aren’t more Crosstours driving around in Colorado. I’m pretty sure a test drive will convince just about anyone looking for a vehicle in this class that it’s the right choice.

RATING – FOUR WHEELS (OUT OF FOUR).   

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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