Jumat, 26 Februari 2010

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

Let’s face it—the latest trend of sleek-lined crossovers is here to stay, and we can look forward to more and more manufacturers creating new vehicles based on this larger design ethos. (See what you’ve done, BMW X6?) So Honda, known for game-changing products, was certain to remind us that the brand new Accord Crosstour had been in the works for many years. “We had been planning this one since before anyone even saw the X6,” we were assured by one executive. When we asked if the Crosstour was in any way developed alongside the recently released Acura ZDX, we were told that the two vehicles have nothing in common with one another. In fact, Honda pointed out that while the ZDX was designed and engineered in America, the Crosstour is, for the most part, the fruit of Japanese labor.
But is it unique? Aside from the styling, there isn’t a whole lot of newness to this car. As the vehicle’s name suggests, the Crosstour is based on the trusty Accord sedan, and instead of dropping the Accord name, Honda left it in place to build better familiarity within its consumer base. Truth be told, about 60 percent of the Crosstour is made up of standard Accord parts, and Honda won’t shy away from telling anyone and everyone that the Crosstour is an extension of the Accord lineup. The automaker wants consumers to view this vehicle as a more premium version of the Accord, but one that offers the space and functionality of a crossover. While this all makes a whole lot of sense in concept, the final product is a bit of an odd duck.

What Honda has created here is a vehicle that is relatively good to drive and has a lot of sedan-like road-going characteristics, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a crossover. The Crosstour’s good-to-drive-ness does give it an edge over more un-involving vehicles like the Venza or Murano, though it’s a little hard to see how it might capture customers from those stalwarts, to say nothing of its own brothers. As a crossover, this vehicle has an odd fit into Honda’s product line. To wit, the CR-V is only four-tenths of an inch taller than the Crosstour and it rides on a much shorter wheelbase, and yet it boasts 21.6 more cubic feet of storage space behind the front seats. What’s more, the CR-V offers more headroom and legroom for front passengers, and more legroom in the second row. And price? A fully loaded CR-V with all-wheel drive is only about $1000 more than a base, front-drive Crosstour. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to us.
That said, a majorly redeeming quality of the Crosstour is how good it is to drive. The only powertrain available is the Accord-sourced 3.5-liter V-6, which produces 271 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Curiously, no four-cylinder engine is available, though engineers explained that putting a four-pot mill in the Crosstour only netted one extra mile per gallon, so they opted to only offer a V-6. Still, a four-cylinder version could have lowered the car’s starting MSRP. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional, but Honda only expects a small margin of all Crosstour sales to have power routed to all four wheels. (Don’t expect to see all-wheel drive making its way into the Accord sedan anytime soon, either.) Our front-drive test car felt peppy while being tossed along back roads, but was subject to a bit of body roll and understeer in the corners.

 We mostly attribute this to the skinny eighteen-inch rubber that higher-level Crosstours are equipped with; the Toyota Venza and Ford Flex are much more competent through the bends, mostly due to their wider tracks and beefier tires. The Crosstour does, however, benefit from cornering shift control, which holds the selected gear through a turn to eliminate the transmission’s tendency to change gears. This allows for a much more linear acceleration feel upon exiting a turn without needing to downshift to a lower gear to achieve max power. It’s smooth, too—something that we can appreciate in a vehicle that isn’t meant to be a nimble sports car. Since most of the Crosstour’s underpinnings are Accord stock, we weren’t surprised to experience crisp turning and lots of driver feedback through the steering wheel. Larger brakes have been fitted at all four corners to account for the added weight of the crossover versus the sedan, and they are appreciated.

So while the Crosstour is relatively good to drive and may do the job of a crossover rather well, it just doesn’t make sense as a Honda. The automaker will now find this vehicle competing head-on against its CR-V, Pilot, and Accord, and because its only unique aspect—the styling—isn’t a huge success, we can’t see it exactly flying off of dealer lots. If consumers judge this book by its cover, the Crosstour won’t be terribly appealing. Too bad really, as it’s a CUV that would be a better-than-most choice for enthusiast drivers. We can only hope that the Crosstour’s strong road manners are enough to win over the consumer set.


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