Honda should thank its lucky stars that BMW still produces the 5 Series GT or else it would be claiming the dubious title of the ugliest new vehicle sold in the U.S. today. Indeed, the Honda Crosstour has always triggered many a gag reflex due to its looks. And your author was part of the lynch mob that derided it back when it debuted as the Honda Accord Crosstour in 2009. I'll admit it—I have hardly ever been kind to this ghastly-looking thing.
But perhaps that's not really fair to the Honda Crosstour. It is, after all, based on the previous-generation Honda Accord, which by most accounts was among the best vehicles in its class. Honda decided to pursue the Crosstour after seeing vehicles like the Subaru Outback and Audi Allroad soar in popularity—vehicles that weren't quite wagons but weren't quite SUVs, either. Customers loved them for exactly that reason. And while the Outback recorded 118,000 sales last year, the Crosstour found just under 21,000 takers.
We took in this 2014 Honda Crosstour to see if the vehicle deserved all the derision and justified our jeers. Truthfully, it didn't. Read on to learn why not.
What We Drove
As Honda's vehicles have moved up in content, their designations have as well. With the Crosstour, Honda doesn't have a DX or LX equipment level. Right off the bat, you have to get a sunroof and a power everything in the uplevel EX package. The 2014 Honda Crosstour comes standard with a 192-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed automatic, and front-wheel drive. From there, the only options that can be had are leather, navigation, Honda's gem of a 3.5-liter V-6 paired with a six-speed auto, and all-wheel drive.
Our tester featured all of those options.
Starting at $28,210, including $830 for destination and handling, the 2014 Honda Crosstour is at least predictable in its upfitment. You're not going to find a magic $30,000 in options suddenly appearing on the final bill in a la carte options. Still, at $38,070 all-in, the loaded Crosstour we had certainly isn't cheap, especially considering its looks. But with lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, upgraded 18-inch wheels, and a bunch of other safety and luxury amenities, the price is at the cusp of reasonability. Indeed, scoring Top Safety Pick status in IIHS testing, the Crosstour has proven to be a sturdy, safe vehicle.
The 2014 Honda Crosstour is quite a pleaser, making its best attempt to go above and beyond the modest expectations we had for it. Despite riding on tall, narrow tires, the Crosstour handles nimbly as one might expect a vehicle with a lower center of gravity to. Its steering is light and offers plenty of feedback, making it surprisingly fun for what it is.
In addition, that 278-horsepower V-6 that resides between its front wheels offers up some of the smoothest, most responsive power out there, getting up to speed with a calm mechanical whirr that's only heard distantly in the interior.
While engine noise intrusion is modest, every divot on the road can be heard as a result of the truck-like tires and a lack of sound deadening. Up until the current Accord, most Hondas have come standard with an abundant amount of road noise; one forgets just how quiet the new sedan is until experiencing what Hondas were like just a few years back by way of cars like the Crosstour.
The Grocery Run
But in one measure, the Accord cannot begin to match the 2014 Honda Crosstour: Cargo capacity. Offering up 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space, the Crosstour eclipses the Accord's 15.5 cubic feet, which we already found to be quite large in previous testing. But the Crosstour isn't perfect. With that hunchback look, the Crosstour sacrifices utility versus a traditional wagon or crossover in the name of style, or we're assuming that's what Honda's designers were struggling with the notion of at the time.
That sloping roofline leads to yet another blemish on the Crosstour's record: terrible rear visibility. Not only is its rear window too small, but its thick sheetmetal creates gaping blind spots as well. Giving how pragmatic a brand Honda has always been, we're not sure what was going through the minds of the people who signed off on it; a traditional wagon shape would have eliminated all of these issues before they started.
The Weekend Fun
Hop inside the 2014 Crosstour EX-L, and there's plenty to like, whether by way of supportive heated leather seats, Honda's intuitive two-screen infotainment system, or pleasant ergonomics.
While the Crosstour uses plenty previous-generation componentry—the current-generation infotainment system notwithstanding—most of the interior uses soft-touch plastics and high-quality materials that look like they were taken from the newer-generation Accord. The lone notable exception is the Crosstour's hard-plastic dashboard panel. On the road, the Crosstour feels modern and is an enjoyable vehicle to drive, with its gauges emitting a cool blue hue throughout the interior at night.
On the highway, we found the Crosstour's ride to be firm, yet comfortable, soaking up bumps with confidence. Despite recording an overall 19.4-mpg average over the course of a week with the Crosstour, scraping right by its 19-mpg city average, the Crosstour oftentimes easily exceeded its 28-mpg rating, which is impressive for such a heavy, high-riding crossover-like thing with a big V-6.
It's hard for Honda to make a truly awful vehicle. The more we drove the Crosstour, the more we realized how fundamentally sound it is. But, admittedly, it is hideous. And rear visibility is compromised to the point where even a backup camera cannot fully rectify that flaw.
Given that, its interior noise, and a price that will clip $40,000 after taxes, we worry how sound a proposition it is. A Subaru Outback offers more cargo room and styling that's easier on the eyes for less around $1,200 less, similarly equipped. And Honda's Pilot offers seating for eight and the same punchy V-6 for similar mullah.
If somehow you think the 2014 Honda Crosstour is a thing of beauty, we'd feel very little remorse in swaying you into one. It's a solid vehicle. But there are better options out there. We recommend checking them out first.
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