They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but the Accord Crosstour's disastrous preview campaign on Facebook is something Honda hopes to soon forget. Prior to that event, the first rumors of the Crosstour's development appeared in our news section over two years ago, and from the get go we heard that it was going to be based upon the Accord and that it would slot in between Honda's exceedingly popular CUVs: the CR-V and Pilot. What we didn't know was that Honda would take such an unconventional approach with the design of the Accord Crosstour. Will this approach pay off? That is the question.
By definition, CUVs are supposed to blend the utility of trucks with the driving characteristics of regular cars, but to this point, the majority of CUVs haven't fully washed away the "trucklike" driving feel. The standard approach has been to borrow some hardware from a car's platform, beef it up a little bit, and basically do everything to make it look like a truck. The Accord Crosstour has largely abandoned that script. It is more than 7 inches taller than the Accord sedan upon which it is based, but compared to other CUVs it doesn't project itself as a tall vehicle. That could have something to do with the unconventional long and wide fastback hatchback body design that just seems to blur the lines between "car" and "crossover". Many people have wondered why Honda didn't simply introduce an Accord Wagon, but the answer to that question was delivered in the form of a press release last week.
Since the Accord Crosstour was designed to slot above the (4-cylinder-only) CR-V, Honda decided that the lowest trim designation would be "EX" and also that all US-market Crosstours would only be offered with a 3.5L i-VTEC V-6 engine with 3-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). This engine (code J35Z2) is rated at 271hp, 254 lb-ft of torque, and is coupled exclusively to Honda's 5-speed automatic transmission. The engine and transmission are essentially identical to the units found in the Accord V6 sedan, but the Accord Crosstour's transmission has a software upgrade which rev-matches downshifts, much like its more expensive Acura cousins (we will be extremely surprised if this software feature doesn't find its way into other Honda transmission controller soon). Honda offers their venerable RealTime All-Wheel-Drive system as on option on the Accord Crosstour EX-L. The Crosstour's Realtime AWD unit is essentially identical to the CR-V's RealTime AWD system. Honda claims that this system can shift up to 50% of available engine torque to the rear axle in the event of front wheel slippage. One other thing, in case you were still wondering - the Accord Crosstour shares no commonality with Acura's ZDX.
Seen On the Street
When the first set of Accord Crosstour photos broke on the internet, there were some strong reactions to the styling. A second set of photos showed the Accord Crosstour from better angles and in better lighting, and this seemed to appease a certain number of its initial detractors. After seeing and driving the Accord Crosstour last week, I can say that both sets of photos depict it pretty accurately - it definitely looks better from certain angles. Lately, Honda designs have suffered from exaggerated front and rear overhangs, and the Accord Crosstour is no exception. The effect is most noticeable when examining the Crosstour's profile, as you might view one in a parking lot. Unfortunately, it has an ungainly look to it. Out on the open road, where you tend to view the vehicle from more shallow angles, I found it to actually be pretty attractive. It's just a shame it doesn't quite have 360 degree beauty.
Continue to the next page for our driving impressions...