In the 2012 Crosstour, Honda attempts to blend the qualities of a car with those of an SUV. What it created is a practical, comfortable wagon that still falls short of SUV versatility.
Honda fell even shorter in its visual design: The Crosstour looks like a boat in search of an ocean.
The Crosstour stands out in a crowd, mostly because of its size. “It’s a big car” is a phrase more than one person used to describe it. It stands taller than most cars, and it also seems a bit wider and longer than anything around it. If you’re not used to a larger car, it might be challenging to park the Crosstour; it’s even longer than you think it is. After a week in the car I was still leaving too much of the rear end hanging into the parking aisle.
Speaking of the rear end, the most tasteful way I can describe it is to say it’s the Crosstour’s ugliest feature. The rear overhang (the distance between the wheels and the bumper) is unbelievably long, and the body has a great deal of height, leading to a roofline that’s so high Honda had to use one of those split rear windows.
If Honda were somehow able to trim that area down or sculpt it a bit more, the Crosstour would be a much better-looking vehicle, but I suspect that would cut down on the car’s best feature: its usefulness.
Some vehicles are large on the outside and surprisingly cramped on the inside. The Crosstour is not one of those cars.
There’s a lot of room in the driver’s area, and it feels open in there. A lot of cars have high doorsills, narrow windshields or bulky center consoles that make me feel wedged into the car. Not the Crosstour. Backseat room is also quite good: At 6-foot-1, I had plenty of legroom and didn’t feel like my knees were thrust up too high. It’s important to note, however, that the backseat doesn’t adjust forward and back, as some do.
The cargo area is a deep bay. What’s odd is that it narrows sharply as it goes back — more so than the cargo area in, say, an SUV. The Crosstour will excel at carrying things like grocery bags, but not wide items.
Further, sticking within the Honda family, you can see that the Crosstour has less overall space than the compact CR-V SUV and much less than the midsize Pilot SUV.
While the cargo area isn’t the largest, it’s low enough that shorter people won’t struggle to lift items into the rear. Neither is it so low that it will be a pain for taller folks.
The Crosstour did a good job of carrying some of our editors’ children. Check the photos to see how the Crosstour performed in our Car Seat Check.
A hidden cargo box in the Crosstour’s floor is a useful feature. Plenty of cars provide an area under the cargo floor to store things, but Honda took it a step further by adding a box that pops out and has built-in handles. Honda says the box is water-resistant, and I can see it being a handy place to store muddy shoes and other things I eventually have to carry into the house.
Finally, Honda deserves praise for making a backup camera standard for 2012 (though you could also say it deserves scorn for waiting so long to do it). That’s because rear visibility in the Crosstour is really poor. That’s not just because of the split window; the rear glass is also very narrow. I relied on the camera more than I have in any other car, and I’d go so far as to say it’s a necessity here.
The Crosstour isn’t a luxury vehicle — that’s the domain of Honda’s Acura brand — but it isn’t ugly on the inside. Our test model came with leather seats that look nice and feel substantial. The same goes for the switches, steering wheel and gearshift: They all feel solid, not like flimsy add-ons.
There are a couple of off-putting things inside, though. The center control panel has an intimidating array of buttons and switches, but I was able to get used to it more quickly than in other cars with similar layouts. It’s helpful that Honda uses large, clear letters and icons to indicate what the different controls do.
What I couldn’t get used to was the navigation system’s poor graphics. Is this flaw the end of the world? No, but if I’m paying more money for something like a navigation system, I’d like it to look nice — or at least to have better graphics than an Atari 2600.
The Crosstour isn’t designed to blow you away with sporty performance, but I found its power around town to be adequate. The same goes on the highway: It gets the job done. One shortcoming is a lack of midrange response from the transmission; it took longer than I wanted to kick down gears.
The steering and brakes are similarly unobtrusive. The steering is light enough for parking lots but doesn’t get light and twitchy at highway speeds. The brakes are on the light side, though, which took awhile to get used to. They don’t really grab the car and slam it to a halt; they’re more squishy. It’s the kind of thing you get used to the more you drive it, but if you’re accustomed to the aggressive brakes of the Accord, the Crosstour will disappoint.
There was no wind noise I could discern, which is somewhat surprising given the Crosstour’s bulk. This thing was silent on the highway.
The best word to describe the Crosstour’s performance is “pleasant.” It gets you where you need to go and doesn’t raise a fuss while doing so, but it won’t give you driving thrills.
The Crosstour began its life as the Accord Crosstour in 2010. For the 2012 model year, it dropped the “Accord” from its name and added automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and, most importantly, a backup camera. You can check out the full range of changes here.
The Crosstour is predicted to have better than average reliability. It receives the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest rating — Good — in frontal offset, side-impact and rear crash protection tests. It’s rated Marginal (one step above the institute’s lowest rating of Poor) in roof-strength tests.
The Crosstour is available with front- and all-wheel drive. Both versions get 18 mpg in the city, but front-wheel-drive versions return 27 mpg on the highway, compared with 26 mpg for all-wheel drive.
Overall, the Crosstour is fairly good at providing the space and cargo capacity of an SUV in a car. But you have to really want a car.
That’s because the Crosstour doesn’t provide the high view of the road that an SUV does, and, ultimately, I don’t think the cargo area is as versatile as an SUV’s. With a sticker price that starts around $30,000, you’re passing up a lot of competitors that offer more utility and more fun.
It’s not so much that the Crosstour is a bad car, it’s more that others are better. Some smaller SUVs offer more overall room, and there are other tall wagons on the market, ranging from the Toyota Venza to more luxurious (and more expensive) offerings like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Cross-shopping any of those cars will help you decide if the Crosstour will do all you need to be satisfied.
| Cargo comparison
|| Luggage volume
| Max luggage volume
| 2012 Crosstour
| 2012 CR-V
| 2012 Pilot
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