First Drive: 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

November 3, 2009

Crossovers are all the rage these days, meaning vehicles somewhere between the practicality of a station wagon and the taller, tougher all-wheel-drive aspects of a sport utility vehicle. They take many forms, and wear an increasing diversity of styles.

Now Honda's gotten into the game, applying the hallowed Accord model name to what it calls an "active grand tourer," the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. It's the first-ever Accord with all-wheel-drive.

We'd say it's a largish five-door hatchback, but the H-word is verboten these days. Like the 2010 Toyota Venza, against which it competes (along with the 2010 Ford Edge, 2010 Mazda CX-7, and 2010 Nissan Murano), the Accord Crosstour tries to be more stylish than earlier SUV-like crossovers. (The grandaddy of this category, now out of production, was the Chrysler Pacifica.)

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

Enlarge Photo

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

Enlarge Photo

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L

Enlarge Photo

But whatever you call it, the Crosstour expands lots of typical Honda virtues--pleasant driving, tight handling, usefulfeatures, and pretty good gas mileage for its size--into a new category, giving Accord owners a more flexible and capable vehicle to move up to.

The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour comes with a single engine and transmission, just two models, and optional all-wheel-drive. The pricing is competitive, and we think it should do well. If, that is, you are OK with its looks.

You can read our full Bottom Line on the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. Breaking it down, the aspects we liked included:

  • Car-like driving position
  • Comfortable ride with tight handling
  • Clever features in the load bay
  • Decent gas mileage

But we had some qualms too:

  • Uhhh, the styling
  • Rear visibility not great
  • Strut towers make load deck narrow

Looks

Honda was clearly caught off guard by what it delicately called "interesting and challenging feedback" to early photos of the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. The hump-backed rear end just looks awkward from many views, and the shape will be--to put it gently--an acquired taste that's not for everyone.

From the front, the swept-back lights and fenders wrap around a grille that's recognizably Honda, but deeper and chromier than on the Accord sedan or coupe. It's behind the rear doors where it all goes wrong. The need for headroom and cargo space simply clashed with the stylists' goal of avoiding the upright, boxy look of an SUV. Nor does it offer the jaw-dropping "wow" factor of the 2010 Acura ZDX.

We have to admit the Honda Accord Crosstour looks better on the street, from eye level, than in automotive photography taken from knee height. The tail isn't as bulbous and the high rear end doesn't seem quite as precarious.

Ride and Handling

It's taller and bulkier, but the 2010 Crosstour drives and handles like a Honda Accord. And that's a good thing. There's little body roll, it grips the road nicely, and the ride is smooth but not soft. Honda really worked on the body stiffness, often hard to do with a huge opening at the rear of the structure, as well as the aerodynamics.

Honda wouldn't tell us the drag coefficient--it seems they don't discuss that number for any of their vehicles--but said it was equivalent to a sedan's. The Accord Crosstour shrugged off side winds, in any case, though we heard a bit more wind noise on a blustery day than we would have liked. When we do a full road test, we'll find out if that was just a pre-production vehicle glitch.

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