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Heels on Wheels: 2012 Honda Crosstour Review by Katrina Ramser +VIDEO

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2012 Honda Crosstour

SEE ALSO Honda Specs, Comparisons and Prices

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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Simply put, the Honda Crosstour is for those who want the versatility of a crossover but do not want to lose full-size sedan styling. And this five-passenger, five-door utility hatchback does exactly that by offering impressive cargo dimensions, all-wheel drive and the seating configurations of a comfy yet spacious sedan. Now in its second year of production, the Crosstour’s controversial design hasn’t budged but the vehicle did adapt more standard equipment.

Available in just two trims (EX and EX-L) and two engines, I drove a 2012 Honda Crosstour EX-L with the larger 271-horspower 3.5-liter V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management technology and a five-speed automatic transmission. Also included was the optional Real Time 4WD system. My top-of-the-line test drive featured the following standard equipment: leather-trimmed seats; a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; dual-zone climate control; a six-speaker audio system; XM radio; Bluetooth connectivity; moonroof; illuminated steering-wheel mounted controls; 10-way power driver’s seat and 4-way passenger; USB and auxiliary input jack; and 18-inch wheels. For an additional $2k, it also had the optional Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with a rearview camera. Total vehicle price came to $36,540.

Depending upon your style preferences, the Crosstour can have a love-at-first sight effect or end up being a hard shape to get accustomed to. The Toyota Venza offers a similar setup – a go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle in the shape of a bloated sedan with cargo and four-wheel drive capabilities as its major draw – but in my opinion, has a much more pleasing design. At any rate, the two are perfect competitors.

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Stylish But Comfortable Results: Any trim, and the Crosstour has an impressive interior presence. New standard equipment gains include automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and the USB audio interface. There is no power liftgate or the option of one for either Crosstour. The leather upholstery provides comfortable seating and the proximity to the climate controls are at the driver’s immediate right, which is perfect. Your front passenger not feel the space effects of a child seat immediately behind. There are numerous hidden center console storage spaces with the USB and auxiliary input jacks cleverly concealed to keep it clean looking.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) give the 2012 Honda Crosstour ratings of “Good” in both frontal offset and side impact crash tests, but “Marginal” in roof strength. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not yet have an overall score, but did earn 4-Stars in rollover testing. Safety features include an advanced airbag system; ACE body structure; anti-lock brakes; and Vehicle Stability Assist.

Cost Issues: The least expensive Crosstour EX with two-wheel drive and the smaller 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine starts at $27,655. My fully loaded test drive with the larger 3.5-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive – plus the navigation – came to $36,540. The Toyota Venza offers three trims at almost identical prices: LE for $27,425; XLE for $29,775 and the Limited at $36,465.

Activity & Performance Ability: Honda puts forth a really strong performer with the Crosstour, where both acceleration and braking is immediate, and cornering is precise with excellent handling characteristics for what really is a crossover, although it can feel like a sedan. Road noise is at a minimum and suspension feel is superb. And with all-wheel drive, the Crosstour has a can-do attitude on icy or otherwise challenging terrain. Your passengers will feel cradled. The bugaboos are in regards to visibility, which is limited through the glass liftgate, and practically non-existent at the rear-quarter windows. Pulling into parking spaces can be deceiving: This is when you’ll be reminded you are dealing with a crossover and its dimensions, and not that of a sedan.

The Green Concern: There is a varying degree of fuel economy numbers between the two engines and drivetrains. The four-cylinder engine with two-wheel drive gets 21 miles-per-gallon city and 29 highway for 24 combined driving. The V6 engine with two-wheel drive takes a hit for 18-city and 27-highway for 21-combined; add all-wheel drive, and fuel economy sinks to your average crossover at 17-city and 25-highway for 20-combined.

If you love the 2012 Honda Crosstour looks, then you’ll be equally please with the performance from either the smaller four-cylinder or the larger V6 with the optional all-wheel drive system. However, take the Toyota Venza for a test ride before you decide.

2012 Katrina Ramser