- Smooth drivetrain
- Nicely executed interior
- Spacious seating areas
- Ungainly looks
- Drives big
- Rear headroom isn't exceptional
- Not as much cargo space as promised
The 2014 Honda Crosstour doesn't have a clear niche: it promises more room than the excellent Accord sedan, but doesn't net much extra space under its hatch.
The Honda Crosstour is no Accord Wagon, and it should be. Instead, it's fairly invisible on the market, where its hatchback body style doesn't look as neat as the Accord sedan on which it used to be based, or as practical as a true wagon.
There's no longer much of anything in common between the Crosstour and the Accord, and that's the hatchback's loss. In sum, the Crosstour is a huskier Accord relative, with more sluggish handling.At least at first look, the 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.
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. The 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 Crosstour drives like an especially heavy, somewhat taller, and less nimble version of the Accord. It weighs about 300 to 500 pounds more, across the board, than a comparable 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.
The most recent update to the Crosstour, in 2013, 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 latest 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 NHTSA hasn't rated the Crosstour, but the IIHS gives it a "good" score in available tests--it hasn't been subjected to the new small-overlap test. Its safety-feature set has been enhanced to include available Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). It also offers 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 lowered prices marginally last year, and improved content. The Crosstour EX now has standard 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.