Flexibility first for Crosstour
Remember the Honda Accord Wagon from back in the day? The 2012 Honda Crosstour is sort of its modern-day reincarnation.
Nothing on four wheels was more level-headed than a Honda Accord Wagon. Good on fuel, reliable and ready for the "fam," it was one of the ultimate sensible haulers of all time.
Sensibility over style
Like the Accord Wagon before it, Crosstour isn't trying to win any styling awards. From the rear, it resembles an oversized Honda Insight with dual exhausts. Some folks say the side profile reminded them of the Porsche Panamera, which isn't a terrible thing. Others said the Crosstour's body looked awkwardly placed over its wheels, clumsy or even "pregnant."
Looks aside, Crosstour is a Honda Accord-based crossover slotted vaguely between a station wagon and SUV - but less towards the latter. It's big on flexibility and capability without being needlessly big, physically. And despite the expanded cargo space and increased ride height, it intends to feel and drive like a sedan.
Ready for anything
It's a smack in the face to the SUV scene - and a machine that proves one needn't drive a clumsy, hulking 4x4 to experience family-ready utility and AWD confidence.
Camping? Renovating your house? Moving? Just doing a whole whack of shopping? Crosstour is ready for the job. Really, for flexible cargo hauling and versatility, this thing hits the nail on the head. For Honda fans after a high-utility wagon-like vehicle, the Crosstour has been attracting more attention than a laser dot in a cat shelter.
Though the cargo area is narrow in the middle (thank the shock towers), overall roominess is generous. You'll have no trouble loading in larger items after folding the rear seats down with a simple pull on a lever. There's even some extra storage under the cargo area floor to keep smaller items organized and out of sight.
And you'll smile, a bit, because with all of your gear and stuff and things on board, the Crosstour doesn't take up more than its fair share of space or fuel.
No stimulation from the cabin
Incidentally, Crosstour is fairly well set up for cargo of the human variety, too. There's plenty of room for four or five adults on board when all seats are upright. Equipment included heated memory seats, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, USB connectivity and a central command control knob for relatively easy access to numerous infotainment functions.
There's plenty of at-hand storage too - as is typical with most Hondas. You get the sense that engineers and designers worked to optimize virtually every shred of available interior volume.
But ultimately, if you're looking to be excited by your vehicle's interior styling, this isn't going to be the machine for you. It's all very utilitarian, albeit for some fake wood, beige leather and contrasting trim colors tossed in for good measure.
The infotainment system, which occupies prime real estate smack in the centre of the dashboard, lets the cabin atmosphere down a little too. It's terribly overdue for an update. My old Atari video game system had similar graphics about 20 years ago.
Ultimately, the Crosstour's cabin is a nice place to be, but not because of its looks.
Still, after a few thousand kilometres, I couldn't help but thinking the Crosstour would make a great mobile office, cottage hauler or weekend tourer. If your ventures take you out in the frigid depths of wintertime, Crosstour's fully automatic all-wheel drive system adds confidence and traction to any situation, too. With a set of winter tires and your careful driving, it'll move around confidently in any weather.
The ride and handling are big-car like and typically smooth and refined, though occasionally harsh over rougher surfaces. Crosstour is comfortable cruising at a good clip and reacts with adequate urgency to any driver input.
Powering it all up is Honda's proven 3.5L V6 with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) to selectively deactivate cylinders when the full 271 horsepower output isn't needed. The promise is great on-demand, high-revving power alongside good mileage during gentle driving. Most will find performance to be more than adequate, and your writer achieved overall mileage of about 11L/100km in real-life, late-winter driving. This figure included a 200-km jaunt through the worst snowstorm of the season.
All Crosstour models come with a 5-speed automatic transmission, and a front-wheel drive version is available, too. A four-cylinder engine option will eventually make its way under Crosstour's hood, too.
I appreciated the $38,900 Crosstour EX-L 4WD NAVI's ready and willing attitude to tackle any job I threw its way, as well as the AWD traction and punchy, pleasant-sounding and liquid-smooth V6 engine. And the non-SUV driving feel.
Crosstour isn't trying to set the driving enthusiast's soul on fire or make any styling statements - but if you can treat your vehicle as a transportation-related appliance and prioritize space and functionality above all else, it should satisfy. Ultimately, it's a triumph of sensibility and flexibility over style and passion. Check Crosstour out alongside the Toyota Venza and Subaru Outback.
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