2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L Road Test Review

Simon Hill - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Although Honda has sold some 3,000 or so Crosstours in Canada since the car went on sale here for the 2010 model year, this segment-defying automotive oddity still doesn't garner much recognition. Indeed, during my week with the Crosstour I became acquainted with dozens of different variations of the question, "What on Earth is that?"

It seems Honda has been getting this question too, with Vicki Poponi, American Honda's assistant vice president of product planning, admitting that "People weren't exactly sure what it was [because] it was a tweener." Meaning it sits between segments.

Note the past tense, because Honda has apparently fixed the problem: It has revised the styling so that the Crosstour looks … umm … almost exactly the same as it did before, and it has added a four-cylinder front-wheel drive powertrain to the lineup, giving the crosshatchagon (which is what I think you should call vehicles in this micro-segment) a new lower price.

The changes don't stop there either: six-cylinder all-wheel drive models get more power and a new six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters (there's no front-drive V6 option anymore), and there are improved interior materials for all models, available pushbutton start and forward collision warning, available blind-spot display and lane-departure warning, a new Kona Coffee colour, plus a few other changes.

I wasn't able to try out the improved six-cylinder power because my test car had the newly available four-cylinder engine. Suffice to say that the 3.5-litre V6 now makes an additional seven horsepower for a total of 278-hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. That should certainly be abundant power, because my four-cylinder test car already had enough for comfortable daily driving thanks to its familiar 2.4-litre i-VTEC inline four, which in this application produces 192-horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a five-speed automatic, and will pull the 1,631-kg Crosstour from 0-100 km/h in about 10.5 seconds.

I also wasn't able to really see the styling changes without digging up photos of the outgoing 2012 model for some side-to-side comparisons. Honda says the Crosstour has "a more rugged, active, and premium look." Certainly it has new contrasting lower cladding, SUV-like bumper underguards and a chunkier, more deeply sculpted front fascia with bigger fog light surrounds, but what still strikes me most about the Crosstour, and pulls my attention away from any minor styling details, is the vehicle's unique and unusual proportions.

My neighbours, who are perennially in the market for a new car (just as soon as their old car stops refusing to die) thought the Crosstour looked kind of cool and useful, and asked me all about price and performance. Personally I think it looks rather bulbous and heavy at the rear end, but the styling didn't bother me any when behind the wheel, so there you go.

Space-wise the Crosstour's sloping rear end means it isn't as big inside as a typical crossover, but it does offer a lot more useable interior space than a typical mid-size sedan, with 728 litres of cargo space when the rear seats are up and 1,453 litres with the seats folded (although you'll need to load around the rear wheel wells that intrude rather deeply into the cargo area just aft of the rear seats). The cargo area is easily accessed thanks to a big hatch, and there's a usefully sized removable bin hidden under the load floor, plus reversible floor panels in case you have messy cargo.

Outside, the Crosstour's footprint is comparable to a regular crossover (it's slightly longer and narrower than the Honda Pilot), but is substantially lower and as a result delivers car-like handling with a comfortable ride, fairly crisp reflexes, and limited body roll - so if that's more important to you than the ultimate in interior space then the Crosstour might be a sensible alternative.

Without a 2012 model to compare against I found it difficult to pinpoint exactly where the interior materials have been upgraded, but I did note that all door uppers and centre panels are soft to the touch, while most of the rest of the interior (including the dash) is built of rigid plastic. My test car's EX-L trim included heated leather power seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dark woodgrain dash accents and a nice-sounding 360-watt seven-speaker audio system, among other features.

The interior design is identical to the previous-generation Accord sedan on which the Crosstour is based, which given that the sedan's interior has since been redesigned does at least mean that the Crosstour's cabin is now distinct in appearance. It's still a pretty good-looking setup, although I found some of the controls a little counterintuitive and cumbersome (the phone's dial-by-number interface was particularly unwieldy). The gauges have eye-catching blue-illuminated pointers and hubs that garnered compliments from everyone.

On the whole I guess it speaks well of the Crosstour's generally refined interior that I kept finding myself searching for the navigation button and being surprised to find the car didn't have a GPS system. That actually brings up a bit of a complaint, which is that navigation, as well as pushbutton start and proximity entry, are only available on V6 models. I suppose the reasoning here is that there's a limit to how finely Honda can parse its markets, and the Crosstour is, after all, already a niche product.

Happily a whole bunch of other new features are available with the four-cylinder EX-L trim, so my test car included Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, text and email capability, HondaLink with audio touchscreen, plus lane departure warning, forward collision alert, LaneWatch blind spot display (which is like a backup camera for the passenger's side blind spot, actuated by the signal lever) and the previously mentioned woodgrain dash trim.

Overall, I found the Crosstour easy to live with, if a bit odd-looking. It drives much like an Accord, which is a good thing. It's comfortable, quiet and has plenty of cargo space for most day-to-day and road trip needs. It's also reasonably good on gas provided you aren't doing a lot of short-hop driving: Rated city/highway numbers for the four-cylinder Crosstour are 9.4 / 6.4 L/100km, and I got close to this with a best around-town reading of 10.7 L/100km once the Crosstour was fully warmed up, but I found it took a solid five kilometres of driving before the average trip economy dropped below the mid-teens. On the highway, however, the Crosstour's car-like front profile makes it easy to achieve good numbers.

The four-cylinder Crosstour EX starts at $30,630, while the four-cylinder EX-L (as tested) goes for $34,230, and the range-topping V6 EX-L Navi is $40,930 (all prices including destination fees). With the new base price, this means the Crosstour can now go head-to-head with Toyota's base four-cylinder Venza, which starts at $30,380 and is really the only other bonafide crosshatchagon out there, not counting the lofty company of the Acura ZDX and BMW 5 Series Grand Turismo.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Honda, 2013, Crosstour, $30,000 - $39,999, Midsize,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page