2010 Honda Crosstour EX-L Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Honda Crosstour

SEE ALSO: Honda Buyers Guide

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2010 Honda Crosstour EX-L

There is a new model in the Honda Accord lineup for 2010. It's called the Crosstour, and it's a… um… well, it has four doors, like a sedan, a coupe's fastback roofline, but is longer, wider, and higher, and has more ground clearance than an Accord sedan. It's also the top model in the Accord lineup.

Honda says the 2010 Crosstour "combines the sophisticated refinement of a premium sedan with versatile aspects from an SUV to create an entirely distinct concept within the crossover segment." Yes, yet another crossover, and yet another type of crossover. It's the crossover for people who don't want a crossover, or at least one that looks like every other crossover.

The 2010 Honda Crosstour is built on the Accord platform, and uses the same 3.5-liter, 271-horsepower V6 as the Accord sedan and coupe. Befitting its line-topping status, that's the only engine choice, no four-cylinder is offered. Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM™) improves efficiency by deactivating cylinders when not needed, so even though a Crosstour weighs a couple hundred pounds more than a comparable Accord sedan it still returns good fuel economy. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission, with two trim levels being EX and EX-L. Front-wheel drive is standard; the EX-L may also be outfitted with Real Time™ four-wheel drive.

The 2010 Honda Crosstour is also a technology showcase, not only for powertrain tech like VCM and transmission logic that prevents shifting when cornering and matches engine and transmission revs when downshifting, but also for pleasant details like Active Sound Cancellation to reduce interior noise levels and Active Control Engine Mounts that minimize transmission of differing amounts of engine vibration to the chassis depending on cylinder activation and configuration. And of course contemporary cabin electronics like navigation system, backup camera, Bluetooth® phone connectivity, and a high-grade audio system with minijack and USB connections for external music players are standard or available depending on trim level. A wide variety of dealer-installed interior and exterior accessories are offered.

I've just spent an interesting week with a front-wheel drive 2010 Honda Crosstour EX-L with navigation system. It doesn't look, or feel, like any other crossover. Nor does it feel like an Accord sedan or coupe, as it's higher and heavier. The decidedly un-boxy body style did make for good stability in nasty crosswinds, and despite the extra weight, the efficient engine and transmission returned good mileage for the Crosstour's size, about 25 mpg overall. Good low-speed engine torque meant performance was never a problem.

If the Crosstour's fastback body style does decrease cargo capacity some -- presuming things are stacked to the ceiling, which is likely not too often -- there is still far more space than in any other Accord, and access is easy thanks to the hatch. It's not meant for serious off-road use, but should be fine for improved dirt & gravel roads if your "active lifestyle" includes outdoor activities. And it'll be easy to find in a parking lot as the Crosstour does not look like anything else.

APPEARANCE: Recipe: Take one Honda Accord sedan, beef it up a bit in size (about two inches in length and width, and over seven inches in height) but keep most of the identifiable character lines and lower body shapes, add a larger, bolder version of the grille, and top off with a fastback four-door coupe roofline. Increased ground clearance -- eight inches in most spots, and six under the front strakes -- and the greater length make it look lower than it actually is.

COMFORT: In EX-L trim the Crosstour is a premium middle-class sedan with a higher equipment level and more passenger and cargo space than the top Accord sedan. The futuristic instrument panel presents all important information to the driver clearly and unambiguously, with easy-to-read backlit main instruments shaded from glare and a protruding, easily reachable center stack topped with an information or navigation screen (depending on equipment), dual-zone automatic climate, and audio controls. The nav system, fitted to my test car, has a bright, glare-free screen and simple, intuitive interface.

The seating position is a little higher than in a regular sedan, if not vintage-SUV high, and visibility is better than expected, helped to the rear by a flat pane of glass on the rear panel as in the current Insight, a Honda feature dating back to the CRX of the 1980s. The EX-L gets leather on the seats, steering wheel rim, and shifter, and heated front seats. The steering wheel adjusts manually for both tilt and reach, so all drivers can find a comfortable seating position.

There are convenient storage spaces around the cabin, and the -L's minijack and USB connection are in the console box with a power point. The rear seat is wide enough that the center position is not necessarily the penalty box, and all doors have storage and bottle holders. The rear seat fold down 60/40, to improve the already long cargo area. Since the space-saver spare is mounted outside, underneath, pickup-style, there's storage space under the regular load floor, including a removable box that could be used as a cooler for a tailgate party or camping.

SAFETY: Like other Accords, the Crosstour uses Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ body structure for the strength and rigidity for maximum passenger protection and minimization of under-ride or over-ride during frontal impact. The front of the car is also designed and built to minimize pedestrian injury. Further passive safety features include dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, front-seat side airbags, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor, and active front seat head restraints, while active safety equipment includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution and Vehicle Stability Assist™.

RIDE AND HANDLING: On the road, the Crosstour unsurprisingly feels larger and heavier than an Accord sedan, as it is larger and taller, and has a higher center of gravity. Still, it's not top-heavy like a typical crossover or SUV. The suspension is tuned on the firm side of moderate, for sporty handling with good passenger comfort. The variable gear ratio power steering is never too light or heavy, and the car is very stable in bad crosswinds. Clearance is adequate for all but the worst road debris (that's when good brakes and/or steering response come in handy!) and should be adequate for minor off-pavement excursions. Because of the chassis design, active engine mounts, and active noise control, the interior is commendably quiet.

PERFORMANCE: Even with a little more weight than an Accord sedan or coupe, there is no shortage of power when needed in the Crosstour. At peak, the 3.5-liter aluminum alloy V6 produces 271 horsepower (at 6200 rpm) and 254 lb-ft of torque (at 5000 rpm). Under hard acceleration, it runs on all six cylinders for maximum power. If light-throttle acceleration is required, only four cylinders are used, and in steady-state running only one bank of three cylinders is activated. Cylinder activation is done by the engine control computer using a modification of Honda's i-VTEC variable valve control system to keep the intake and exhaust valves of deactivated cylinders closed. Fuel delivery to those cylinders is stopped, but spark continues in order to keep the plugs warm and prevent fouling on reactivation. The system is totally seamless, and helps improve fuel efficiency. I got high teens around town, high twenties or better on the highway (at speed, with hills and wind), and 25 mpg overall for the week. Credit also goes to the five-speed automatic transmission, which has special programming to hold gears when cornering enthusiastically .

CONCLUSIONS: Honda has a new type of crossover in the Crosstour.

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 Honda Crosstour EX-LM

Base Price			$ 34,770
Price As Tested			$ 35,480
Engine Type			sohc 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 with
				 i-VTEC variable cam timing and valve
				 lift control and VCM variable cylinder
				 management
Engine Size			3.5 liters / 212 cu. in.
Horsepower			271 @ 6200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			254 @ 5000 rpm
Transmission			5-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		110.0 in. / 196.8 in.
Curb Weight			3887 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		14.3
Fuel Capacity			18.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane regular unleaded gasoline
Tires				P225/60R18 100H
				 Michelin Latitude Tour HP
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
				 ABS, BA, TCS, VSA standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent double wishbone /
				  independent multilink
Ground clearance		6.0 in.
Drivetrain			transverse front engine, 
				  front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		18 / 27 / 25
0 to 60 mph				est 7.5  sec
Towing Capacity				1500 lbs.

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Destination charge			$ 710

SEE ALSO: Honda Buyers Guide

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