DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: If you can get beyond the Crosstour's hideous exterior appearance, there's a really good daily driver here, a fact that shouldn't come as much surprise considering the Crosstour is basically an Accord V6 with an enormous boil on its bum. Passenger volume remains essentially the same as the Accord sedan, but cargo room jumps by about 10 cubic feet with the rear seat up; fold it down and you get a very handy 51.3 cubic feet of storage space.
One caveat, though: As with all these cross-wagon-utility things, the steeply raked back glass seriously diminishes the usability of said cargo space over a taller SUV or minivan. If you only need the extra room now and then…well, you'd probably be fine in a sedan with the seats folded down. And you'd get the added bonus of not driving something that looks like the Crosstour.
But you absolutely must have AWD, you say? That's where the Crosstour does have an advantage over its conventional sedan brother, which can be had with the same stout V6 but only powering the front wheels. Prepare to fork over an additional $4,000 for those extra two driven wheels and that big butt, though: Our Crosstour stickers north of $38,000; a comparable V6 Accord Touring sedan gets a $34,270 MSRP.
If you're still convinced a Crosstour is for you, rest assured our V6 AWD tester was a perfectly nice driver, offering everything we love about our long-term Accord with the potent V6 engine and proper six-speed automatic transmission. The Crosstour isn't light, but it gets off the line in a hurry, thanks to 278 hp and a tight torque converter that responds to throttle inputs instantly. Ride quality is excellent even on Detroit's potholed thoroughfares, and the entire car is tuned to be “just right” for the vast majority of average drivers. That tuning has been a Honda specialty for years, and it's on full display here.
Honda's traditionally excellent visibility is also present in the Crosstour with a vast windshield sloping low on the hood and thin A-pillars (remember those?) staying out of view; the exception, once again, is that goiter out back which divides the rear view and introduces some weird reflections from the near-horizontal back glass. Honda's brilliant LaneWatch right-view camera (which activates when the RH turn signal is used) was featured on our tester, and becomes almost indispensable after a single evening -- we can see some customers buying a Honda solely for this feature. I don't condone such behavior, but then again I once dated a girl who bought a Mazda 626 because of the oscillating center A/C vents (she also got a stick-shift, and was thus redeemed).
The Crosstour remains one of those weird, “this is a what now?” car-x-over offerings that I just don't fully understand. The market apparently doesn't either -- the Crosstour was handily outsold by even the near-dead Honda Ridgeline crosstruck in March; the more conventionally styled Toyota Venza logged nearly three times the sales -- though even it accounted for only 3,000 or so units.
Remind me again how consumers want crossovers instead of station wagons, Honda? I'd be willing to bet a nicely styled V6 Accord wagon would run circles around the Crosstour in showrooms.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: I can't argue with the fact that the Honda Crosstour isn't pretty. From the front it looks like an inflated Accord. This makes sense because it is based off the last-generation Accord platform, meaning it's rather conservative looking. Then you get to the back, with the crazy bulbous rear that makes it look like the designers tried to give it some visual punch. So I guess you can say the Crosstour is the automotive equivalent to a mullet: business in the front, party in the back.
What are the Crosstour's redeeming qualities? The drivetrain combination of the 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic remain a strong pairing. I continue to believe that nobody builds a smoother V6 than the boys from Honda. Throttle tip-in is just right, not too jumpy or laggy, and power delivery is linear. Unlike the Honda Pilot I drove not too long ago with the same basic engine, the variable cylinder management on this Crosstour was once again unnoticeable when the engine kicked into three-cylinder mode. The six-speed automatic gearbox is also well tuned with well timed upshifts, and it cracks off snappy downshifts when you need to merge onto the expressway or make passes.
It also handles well. Steering feel is fairly responsive and it doesn't fall on its side around corners, but it's clearly no sports car. It weighs nearly 2 tons and has a higher center of gravity. When you consider that, it's more impressive that Honda has managed to make the Crosstour behave as well as it does. And it's not like it is riding on super-wide tires. Our EX-L V6 is on 18-inch wheels and not on something crazy like 20-inchers.
The fact that Honda resisted the urge to go with bigger wheels is another reason to why the ride quality is so good here. There are 225/60 R18 tires here, which leaves a good amount of sidewall to soften blows from ruts and potholes.
Inside, the center stack has Honda's touchscreen. I got the hang of it after spending a year in our long-term 2013 Honda Accord EX-L sedan. It's far from my favorite infotainment system, but it is fairly intuitive. There are large icons on the screen and a few major hard buttons below it to get to associated menus. My main problem is the touchscreen itself is not responsive enough. It takes a firm press on the screen to select things.
The rest of the cabin is also alright, with great visibility out, respectable materials, good build quality and comfortable enough front seats. The LaneWatch system that debuted on the latest generation Accord is here and is among one of my favorite options out today.
What I would be interested in finding out is how well the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 192 hp would do powering the Crosstour. We haven't had one of those through the office ever, I don't think, but that's only available with front-wheel drive. That Crosstour would be about 200 pounds lighter than the V6-powered car with all-wheel drive we have here. The I4 would bring better fuel economy if the EPA ratings of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway are believed. And then there is the cheaper cost of admission with a fully loaded four-cylinder model wearing a base price of $33,995.
But would I ultimately pick a Crosstour over its competition such as the Nisasn Murano, Ford Edge and Toyota Venza? I would take it over the Murano to avoid the continuously variable transmission and probably over the Edge, too, because the Honda's drivetrain is so good. As for the Venza, I actually think that's a clean and attractive-looking car, and Toyota's V6 engine isn't half bad either. In this two-row crossover/tall wagon segment, I think I would give the nod to the Venza.
2014 Honda Crosstour EX-L Navi
Base Price: $38,070
As-Tested Price: $38,070
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; AWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 278 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 252 lb-ft @ 4,900 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,934 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 19/28/22 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 20.2 mpg
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