2010 Honda Crosstour EX-LPosted on April 23rd, 2010
Accord with a twist
By Nina Russin
Contrary to its conservative image, Honda is a risk taker. The first-generation Insight, Element, Ridgeline and FCX Clarity are all examples of what I mean. In each case, Honda reached outside the box to create a new type of vehicle, with a very specific buyer in mind.
Think about how many box-shaped crossovers rolled out on the heels of the Element. The Insight and FCX Clarity are alternative fuel vehicles whose cutting edge technology can live in the real world. The Ridgeline is the first pickup truck with a trunk.
The Honda Crosstour is a similar endeavor: a crossover vehicle based on the Accord that doesn’t look or act like anything else on the road. Designed for buyers with active lifestyles, the Crosstour comes with cylinder deactivation for enhanced fuel economy, available four-wheel drive, and a versatile cargo area with under-floor storage.
A removable cargo tray fits into the under-floor storage bay. Made of easy-to-clean plastic, it’s ideal for carrying dirty trail shoes or wet suits.
The Crosstour’s aerodynamic profile contributes to overall fuel economy, minimizes wind turbulence around the cabin, and enhances down-force for better high-speed performance.
Base price for the EX-L (tested) is $36,220: a bit higher than what one might expect for a five-door hatchback. The upscale grade comes fully loaded with comfort and convenience features, including navigation, Bluetooth interface, heated seats, satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, and a 360-watt audio system. Buyers who don’t want leather trim might prefer the base EX, which has similar features, but is not available with navigation, four-wheel drive or the backup camera.
Thrifty iVTEC engine
A six-cylinder engine with variable cylinder management is standard on all models. The VCM system automatically shuts down up to half the cylinders when power demands are low, in order to enhance gas mileage. The system has no noticeable effect on performance. An indicator light on the dash tells the driver when the car is running in “eco” mode.
A five-speed automatic transmission has large overdrive gears for enhancing high-speed gas mileage. The transmission functions smoothly, with no obvious shift shock.
The four-wheel drive system doesn’t have a low-speed transfer case for extreme off-road trails, but it will send engine power to the rear wheels when the front end loses traction. The Crosstour’s six-inch minimum ground clearance enhances its all-weather capability, and allows it to travel along graded dirt roads.
The Crosstour is a heavy car: over 4000 pounds for the four-wheel drive model. It’s also very long: about 197-inches end to end. While engineers did a good job of compensating for the effects of weight and all-wheel drive on overall fuel economy, the car’s mass and length affect its performance.
Having been spoiled by the nimble performance of Honda’s spry Civic Si, the four-wheel drive Crosstour seems bland by comparison. The Crosstour weighs about 1000 pounds more than the Civic, and its turning radius is five feet longer.
Honda’s double wishbone suspension, which provides crisp feedback in the Civic, keeps the Crosstour on track, but with poorer steering response. The difference in performance is less noticeable around town than on rural roads which see less maintenance and have off-camber turns.
Stability bars on both axles keep the chassis flat through cloverleaf ramps. The all-wheel drive model has slightly more weight in the rear than the front-wheel drive Crosstour, giving the car better overall balance. Since the all-wheel drive feature automatically transfers engine power to the back axle when the front wheels slip, the driver doesn’t have to worry about understeer.
Visibility to the front and sides is pretty good, but extremely poor to the back. On more than one occasion, cars moving through the large blind spots in the rear corners seemed to come out of nowhere. Availability of a blind spot detection system would make the Crosstour a much safer car.
Enhanced pedestrian safety
Anybody who runs or cycles needs no reminder about the danger of sharing the roads with cars. I commend Honda for making pedestrian safety a priority in engineering the Crosstour’s body structure. The car’s hood is designed to deform in the case of a pedestrian accident to mitigate injury. Engineers allowed extra space between the hood and the engine for the same reason.
Other pedestrian-friendly features include energy-absorbing fender mounts and supports, deformable windshield wiper pivots, and a deformable hood hinge. Standard daytime running lights and fog lamps make the car easier to see in low light or bad weather.
The EX-L model comes standard with heated leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls. As an athlete, I would have preferred cloth because it’s easier to clean. But the seats are comfortable with good lower lumbar support, and the leather gives the interior a more upscale appearance.
Designers used a new anti-glare finish on the navigation screen, which also displays the standard rearview camera image. A mouse-type device controls many of the comfort and convenience functions, eliminating clutter in the center stack. The gauges and digital displays on the instrument panel are easy to read.
An information function includes trip information, Bluetooth interface, a calendar, calculator and Zagat ratings. The trip function shows real-time and average fuel economy, average speed and range. Fuel economy for my 100-mile test drive was 26.3 miles-per-gallon, with an average speed of 48 miles-per-hour.
Both front passengers have ample head, leg and hip room. Second-row passengers have plenty of legroom, but headroom is limited due to the roof’s severe rake. There is enough legroom in the center position for a small adult on shorter trips.
All passengers have ample access to bottle holders in the doors, and cupholders in the front center console, and a fold-down rear armrest. A 12-volt power point in the center console recharges portable electronic devices. Vents behind the center console bin circulate air through the back of the cabin.
Overhead reading lamps up front and a dome lamp in the back illuminate the car at night. Lamps on either side of the cargo area are handy for loading in gear after a long day on the trails.
Designers integrated the standard privacy cover into the liftgate, to keep it out of the way when passengers load up the back. Levers on either side of the liftgate collapse the rear seats in a 60/40 pattern. The cargo area is narrow between the rear wheel wells, but will hold a road bike with the front wheel removed.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, active front headrests, antilock brakes, stability control and daytime running lamps.
The new Crosstour isn’t a car for everyone. But its versatile cargo area, four-wheel drive capability and good fuel economy should put it on the consideration list for multi-sport athletes who commute in urban areas.
Honda builds the Crosstour at its East Liberty, Ohio assembly plant.
Likes: A five-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and a versatile cargo area. The removable bin that stows under the cargo floor is ideal for holding wet suits or running shoes after a day on the trails. The standard privacy cover keeps items stored in back out of sight.
Dislikes: Large rear blind spots make it difficult to see cars in the adjacent lanes. High MSRP puts the Crosstour out of range for some prospective buyers.
Model: Crosstour EX-L
Base price: $36,220
As tested: $36,930
Horsepower: 271 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 254 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $710 destination charge.
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