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The Honda Crosstour has the best of intentions. Take a best-selling sedan, and lift its roofline to carve out more passenger and cargo space while preserving the driving feel that elevated it above some noteworthy challengers.
It's a great idea, but the execution on the Crosstour is marred by less cargo room and more sluggish handling than it intends. It's a husky Accord, now minus the Accord nameplate--it's just Crosstour now, thanks--and in truth, there's no longer much of anything in common between the two aside from drivetrains, after a recent refresh.
The 2013 update makes one thing evident: Honda's clearly making an effort to cast it as more of a crossover in design. It's a profile that's proven to be a tough sell. The rounded roofline and five-door-hatchback design of the Crosstour can make it appear a bit hump-backed from some angles, although the front is recognizably Honda and tweaked this year (with a new slotted look in front for more visual width) to keep in pace with the look of the 2013 Accord Sedan. Finally, Honda's added more cladding, down at the doorsills and around the wheelwells—cluttering the look, if you ask us. In short, it still looks like an overgrown hatchback rather than a true crossover or SUV. Inside, the 2013 gets various materials upgrades, again to correspond to those used in the Accord Sedan.
The Crosstour retains four-cylinder and V-6 engines, and you'll probably be fine with the adequate performance of the base 192-horsepower four and five-speed automatic transmission. V-6 models get Honda's new Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V-6, rated at 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, connected to a six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. While the Accord Sedan has been ushered over to a front-strut layout—more tunable for ride and handling, Honda says—the Crosstour maintains the double-wishbone layout that for a longtime was a point of pride for Honda enthusiasts. Handling is further aided by front and rear stabilizer bars along with a front strut tower bar, and the steering is hydraulic-assist—standing apart from the electric-assist systems that have been introduced across the new Accord lineup.
Fuel economy has improved across the board, too, with four-cylinder models offering up to 22 mpg city and 31 highway, while the V-6 now gets up to 20/29 mpg. All-wheel-drive models drop 1 or 2 mpg versus those numbers.
That's all fine and good, but the wake-up call still comes in the realization that the Crosstour is something more than just a five-door Accord, and that it neither drives better than the Accord Sedan nor has other attributes (like more ground clearance) to make up for it. The previous Honda Crosstour drove like an especially heavy, somewhat taller, and less nimble version of the Accord Sedan—and we expect the 2013 Crosstour to be no different in that respect, since the core fundamentals remain. The Crosstour continues to weigh about 300 to 500 pounds more, across the board, than a comparable 2013 Accord Sedan; but even not knowing that you'll be surprised to find that especially at lower speeds the Accord Sedan's nimble feel is simply missing here.
At least at first look, the 2013 Crosstour teases a lot more utility and versatility than Accord Sedans. Even if you're not a convert to the Crosstour's pumped-up-hatch styling ethos, it offers some key elements of crossover appeal. One is that it rides a couple of inches higher than the Accord Sedan and is around four inches taller altogether—which makes getting in and out easier. In front there's loads of space and headroom, as you might expect, but in back the downward slope of its roofline, as well as the fact that it curves inward, makes headroom a potential issue for taller riders. The cargo situation is disappointing, too, as the strut towers infringe on cargo space (there's not much space between them), although the seatbacks flip forward. One handy feature, though, is that there's a large stowage area (large enough for a laptop bag or briefcase) underneath the cargo floor, and the lid can be reversed to an easy-wipe material, for muddy gear.
At the time of writing, neither of the U.S. safety agencies have rated the 2013 Crosstour, but Honda has given it an upgraded structure. in previous model years its 'Marginal' rating for roof strength has been worrisome. On the other hand, its safety-feature set has been enhanced this year to include available Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Other safety upgrades to the 2013 Crosstour are designed to help it earn top IIHS roof-crush safety scores, as well as a 5-Star NCAP rating. The 2013 Crosstour, along with the Accord Sedan, offer Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot display, which when you click the turn signal on shows you a wide-angle view alongside the vehicle. Honda also re-shaped the rear headrests for better visibility.
Honda has lowered prices somewhat for 2013, and Crosstour EX models feature automatic air conditioning with filtration, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB audio interface, steering wheel-mounted controls, along with an auto dimming rearview mirror. Top shelf EX-L V-6 models add dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather-trimmed seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, along with HondaLink with Aha capability, Pandora, and Internet radio capability. The system also rolls in the Pandora interface and voice-to-text SMS texting feature (Android and BlackBerry only), with pre-programmed responses.