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Honda's unique Crosstour could just as well be named the Cross-dresser. You see, under its altered appearance remains a man -- er, an Accord -- but don't let this Honda Accord derivative foment scorn. There's a lot to admire about the Crosstour, possibly more than with the Accord, which was recently named the 2013 Canadian Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.
You can probably name half a dozen Honda Accord owners, but can you name just one Crosstour owner? No you can't, and really that's the point. Why be conventional when a more practical alternative exists? The Crosstour sets itself apart visually and practically from the venerable Accord despite being, in all manner of speaking, a Honda Accord with a sloping roof and rear hatch. While the visual esthetics may be worthy of lively debate, the practicality of the Crosstour's large hatch and resultant cargo hold is obvious. Anyone wishing to expand the usefulness of a family sedan without moving to a crossover, SUV or wagon, should pop a Crosstour's hatch and drop its rear seat -- they may be surprised at the commodious flat-floored cavern therein. I was.
At 728 litres of volume, the Crosstour is closing in on double the cargo volume of the Accord sedan, which is pegged at 439 litres. The extra ability to accommodate a Costco run doesn't alter the ability of the Crosstour to deliver those shoppers well-rested in preparation for a workout of warehouse proportion.
You'd be forgiven for thinking the sleek roofline must intrude upon rear-seat headroom. It doesn't, unless transporting forwards for the L.A. Lakers. Front seating is all Accord, as are the layout of controls, instruments and switchgear.
This is Honda's latest cabin iteration for the Accord lineup, and while it's comfortable, I'm not a big fan of including two large screens in the dash, especially when the car isn't equipped with navigation. It feels as if Honda exercised banal creativity in finding viable uses for the larger of the two screens, which would normally be assigned navigational duties if so equipped.
I guess one could consider Honda's LaneWatch function, which displays vehicles on the right, reason enough for the screen's existence. I didn't find LaneWatch particularly useful. I did, however, appreciate the backup camera supplied as standard Crosstour fare. It's a much-needed asset due to limited rearward visibility arising from the vehicle's hatchback format.
One thing about Honda cabins -- they get the driving position right. I felt at ease behind the wheel of my Crosstour tester and the vehicle practically drove itself, which is a testament to Honda's ergonomics and engineering. Of course, with a naturally aspirated four-cylinder power plant pulsing beneath the hood, performance was less than inspiring.
While the Crosstour can be fortified with a powerful V-6 engine and the grip of all-wheel drive, it was the base engine that breathed life into my front-wheel-drive example. Displacing 2.4 litres, the DOHC i-VTEC-equipped mill produces 192 horsepower at a screaming 7,000 r.p.m., accompanied by 162 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 r.p.m. Harnessing the output, which at times sounds a little unrefined, is a five-speed automatic transmission.
A six-speed auto-box is mated with the V-6 engine. This combination would definitely enliven the otherwise-tepid performance of the base setup. Still, my tester had no difficulty in delivering the fundamentals of decent performance, fuelled by decent economy. I could learn to live with the four-banger under the hood but it wouldn't raise my pulse or urge me into the passing lane; I guess passion is to be found at the pumps. My tester was rated at 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres and 6.4L/100km city and highway driving respectively. I wasn't far off that mark during my term of mixed driving.
While I can't get excited about the performance of the Crosstour's base engine or the vehicle's anomalous styling, I do find more serenity and pleasure in driving it than expected.
The car delivers a smooth ride that isn't marred by suspension noise or sloppy handling. It also possesses all the attributes that decorated the Accord with AJAC's 2013 Car of the Year ribbon and more. The more is cargo capacity and related versatility. Typical sedans aren't the conveyances best suited to moving lots of stuff. While it may be confused about its identity, the rule-bending Crosstour combines an award-winning sedan personality with crossover practicality. Look past the clothes, and you'll see the man -- er, the Accord.
-- Postmedia News
TYPE OF VEHICLE: front-wheel or 4-wheel drive SUV
ENGINE: 2.4L four cylinder or 3.5L V6
POWER: 192 hp @ 7,000 rpm; 162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm (2.4L) / 278 hp @ 6,200 rpm; 252 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm (3.5L)
TRANSMISSION: 6-spd automatic
BRAKES: 4-wheel disc with ABS
LengTH: 499.5 cm
WHEELBASE: 279.7 cm
Trunk SIZE: 727 litres
TRANSPORT CANADA FUEL ECONOMY (L/100 km): 9.4 city, 6.4 hwy. (2.4L); 11.1 city, 7.1 hwy. (3.5L)
BASE Price: $30,630 (EX) - $40,930 (EX-L 4WD)