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2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L 4WD Review

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SEE ALSO: Honda Buyers Guide

A Big Car That Straddles Classes
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

What is this big white thing in my driveway this week? It’s called Honda Accord Crosstour and I’m not sure exactly what category it fits within. It’s sort of a station wagon - an Accord that is wide open inside all the way to its rounded back. It’s sort of a sedan because it’s not squared off at the back like a wagon, but it’s stance is higher than sedan. It’s sort of a hatchback since it has a large hatch rather than a trunk lid or cargo door. It’s not an SUV since it’s not on a truck platform. I guess it’s a crossover utility vehicle (CUV), though it’s more car-like than most in that newly popular genre.

But it is big – at least it looks big on first view. Listed as a 5-passenger vehicle it’s more appropriate as 4-passenger, I think. That is, I’d hate to be the person in the center of the 60/40 folding rear seat for a journey of more than a few miles. I guess it would be OK for the kid with a young, tough butt. The two outside rear seats are deeply bucketed like a European sedan

Let’s just say it’s the newest of the class of vehicles that have morphed from common, successful sedans. “Crossover” vehicles are in nearly every manufacturer’s portfolio now since development costs are minimal, but they vary greatly in execution. Taking advantage of the US buyer’s fondness for SUVs with high seating, more ground clearance and more utility, manufacturers just take their existing platforms of whatever size, even tiny ones, and rebody them for more utility and ambiance. Of course, the details of suspension tuning, engine performance and utilitarian design details make the difference. This one, for me at least, is surprising – surprisingly European.

Visually, it needed to grow on me a bit. It certainly doesn’t look European. On first blush it looks a bit bulky and awkward – high, rounded and broad with odd dimples in the lower side body panels. The unusual roofline slopes gently to the rear in sort of a humpy, sedan fashion. Because of a commanding stance it looks massive. I find it most attractive, even a bit sporty, when looking at it directly from the rear. Its sloping curvature reminds me of the beautiful, misunderstood and underappreciated Chrysler Crossfire, especially with the bold, chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets.

Based on the Accord, Honda’s bread-and-butter mid-size sedan, the Ohio-built Crosstour has great parentage. Now, I haven’t been in many Accords lately but I expected this iteration to be considerably softer and more white bread than this one turned out to be. It felt like a car of substance, to be sure – more like a German car with extra firm seats, tight suspension, quick engine and competent dynamics. Steering was firm and provided good feedback. Fully independent suspension, while mostly conventional in design (front double wishbone and rear multilink), was exceptionally well-balanced and exhibited much less lateral motion on hard driving than I expected. It handles and rides more like a car than an SUV but very much like an upscale sedan.

The interior is a great place to spend time. Seats are very firm, well bolstered and wide enough for my broad beam. Though the center stack is a bit busy it’s easy to figure out all the controls and information sources. Ergonomics are good including all the steering wheel controls. Materials feel and look richer than I expected as well. Looking out over the hood and maneuvering it in the driveway it felt as large as it looked, though.

Crosstour is powered by a strong 3.5-liter V6 making 271 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission and, in this case, an all-wheel drive system. We had no foul weather or bad roads to test that system on this week, but I can say we could not tell that all four wheels were always in play. And, of course, that’s the way it should be.

The engine’s Variable Cylinder Management system with Grade Logic Control contributes to the EPA-estimated 25-mpg on the highway using regular fuel. That just means lots of technology, electronic and mechanical, is managing the engine so much more efficiently than was ever possible in the old days. This city rating is 17-mpg. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank we can expect a cruising range well over 350 miles under most conditions with this 3,900-pound car.

All safety features are standard, as is the case with most cars in this class. Lots of air bags, stability control, brake assist, stiff body structure with crash zones, active head restraints, side impact door beams and child safety latches are included.

Cargo area, certainly an important number for a CUV, is exceptional with 27.7 cubic-feet behind the rear seat and 51.3 cubic-feet with the rear seats folded. You can also tow 1,500 pounds with the Crosstour.

Our test car stickers out at just about 37-grand with no options listed. This “4WD EX-L with Navigation” model comes with just about everything you can imagine including XM Satellite Radio, power sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile 50-series all-season tires, heated mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, heated front seats, Bluetooth, USB and MP3 compatibility, voice recognition on the navigation system, leather seats and steering wheel and all the other stuff that you expect on upscale cars these days.

The basic front-wheel drive Crosstour EX starts at just under $30,000. It’s quite well equipped as well.

Honda’s warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Ergonomics, perhaps, is the best element of the Crosstour. I must say, the tailgate, or liftgate, is the best balanced I’ve encountered. Without power it lifts so easily you could do it with one finger. It’s the same when closing. With a hatch this well balance there is no need at all for a power system. The cabin and cargo area are full of clever, handy storage innovations.

The Honda Accord Crosstour is surprisingly good, I must say. I guess I just have not spent a lot of time with Honda products the past few years. They are a bit harder to get my hands on than some. I’ll look forward to reviewing more of them.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved