Don't look at the picture.
The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour looks much better than any camera can capture.
Even Honda executives can't explain why this all-new crossover, arriving at dealerships now, is so un-photogenic. Whether digital or old-school 35 mm, images just don't accurately represent this truck/wagon-esque vehicle built on the popular Honda Accord platform.
In person, the Accord Crosstour looks downright stylish. It's the second most stylish vehicle in Honda's lineup, next to the S2000 roadster.
While Honda's popularity has always been more about substance over style -- few carmakers could introduce a refrigerator box of a design known as the Element and find success -- the new Accord Crosstour looks sharp, sophisticated and tough.
While the obvious comparison pushes people toward the trucky Toyota Venza introduced last year, this Honda really has more in common looks-wise with the Mazda CX7. The roof is low and curvy. The front end pushes out. The front and rear fascias stretch the horizontal look and help this crossover look wide and stable on the ground.
Sharing 60 percent of its parts with the Accord sedan, the Crosstour may have that Accord resemblance, but Honda has created a complementary vehicle that is longer, wider and taller than its sedan sibling.
There are even some neat exterior features that make it more comfortable inside, such as the integrated rocker panels on the door. These add some tough-looking character that the more sedate Accord doesn't have. And since they are part of the door, ingress and egress are very easy.
And you'll like getting into this Honda.
Much like the Accord, the Crosstour provides a very comfortable interior.
The materials inside the cabin feel high quality and well made. There are two interior color schemes available: charcoal black or ivory. Personally, I would choose black. As a serial coffee drinker and driver, ivory is fraught with risk.
The touch points throughout the cabin are soft and the dash has a simple flow across it. The optional navigation system is the same as the one in the Accord. Instead of providing the ever-so-smudge-able touch screen, Honda opted to push the screen deep into the dash and stick a single control knob out of it. It's easy to use once you get used to it, but it takes away from the dash's overall look. Function trumps art throughout the cabin.
The front is spacious and the second row feels nearly as comfortable, offering 37.4 inches of legroom.
Moreover, Honda put a lot of thought into the back. The storage area is spacious, though the rear suspension cuts into some of the space, creating a somewhat awkward shape.
Because Honda put the spare tire under the car, there is additional storage space below the rear floor. There's an 8.4-inch deep hidden removable utility box that provides almost 2 cubic feet of storage. Additionally, on each side, there are two recessed areas that provide some hidden space.
One reason people remain apprehensive over crossovers is the inability to lock things in the trunk. And there's always the fear that a crook of opportunity might walk by a parked car, see something worth stealing in the back and practice his smash-and-grab thievery. Hiding something under the floor is one way to prevent temptation.
Honda has also included tie-down hooks and other convenient features in the back. Because the Crosstour comes with that big space in the back, it's good to see Honda made the most of the opportunity.
An Accord-like feel
The preproduction model I test drove felt a lot like the Accord. The ride was extremely quiet. The steering, however, felt very numb and the return to center was not very good. (After coming out of a turn, the wheel would push back softly and not straighten the car out completely.) The 271-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 keeps the Crosstour quick everywhere you drive. Additionally, Honda has continued to tinker with this engine, which can turn off two or three cylinders if they are not needed.
The result of Honda's Variable Cylinder Management system is an all-wheel drive crossover that can still get 25 miles per gallon on the highway. (The front-wheel drive model hits 27 mpg on the highway.) The system is extremely smooth and you'll never really know how many cylinders are operating at any given time.
Honda has refined its five-speed automatic transmission as well, though it should seriously consider refining it so much that there are six-speeds inside the gear box. Six speeds are the industry standard for premium vehicles.
The all-wheel drive system is also very smooth and helps keep the Crosstour firmly planted. In back-to-back testing of both drivetrains, the all-wheel drive seemed to respond better to more aggressive driving. Naturally, that's my pick.
It would be a mistake to judge the Accord Crosstour only on its looks on a Web site or in a magazine. Its style matches its substance, but only in person.
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