Ponder the new Honda Accord Crosstour. Is it a sedan? A station wagon? An SUV? It's none of those. Maybe we should call it the Crossbreed. Certainly it's been called a lot worse since images of it started tricking out online last year. But after seeing the car in person, the design seems less clumsy. And the ride? Agile.
Appearance: Honda calls it "attention-grabbing presence." It's that. You either love the look — it's based on the Accord Sedan — or hate it. The front end looks like an Accord on steroids — it's all chiseled and macho, Transformer-like. The fender flares and high hood add to the muscular look. Then there's the much-talked-about hatchback rear: It looks bulbous in profile and too wide and high from behind. Is it a dealbreaker? You decide.
Performance: We liked Honda's 271-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 when we drove the sleek Accord Coupe last year. It has plenty of power, even for the bigger Crosstour. (The variable cylinder management uses only the number of cylinders needed, leading to more fuel efficiency.) Most surprising: Both the steering and ride have an agility that belies the 3,887-pound Crosstour's looks. The ride, like that of its Accord cousins, is composed and comfortable, and we didn't detect any torque steer in this front-wheel driver. One nit: The automatic transmission is a five-speed, when six now seems to be the industry standard.
Interior: We've come to expect unique features from Honda. (Lyra loves the lockable trunk in the bed of her Ridgeline.) The Crosstour has a removable storage bin under the deck. This is possible because the spare tire sits under the car. Open the hatch, pop down the easy-fold rear seats (just pull the latch) and there's plenty of hauling space (51.3 cubic feet). Even with the rear seats up, the Crosstour handled Lyra's trip to Super Target with ease. Here's the tradeoff: The hatchback has a horizontal cross bar, much like Honda's Insight, which bisects the rear window view. We both found it annoying. The passenger cabin is standard Accord, which means quality materials and creature comforts (heated leather seats, adjustable lumbar supports). We both liked the elegant curved dash and the blue-lit gauges. There is plenty of headroom, thanks to the 10-way power driver's seat, which features memory adjustments and sliding front armrests. The backup camera has one of the sharpest images we've seen, but we didn't like that the satellite radio info is in the small display strip under the LCD screen. It's not easy to scroll through. The Nav system, which includes Zagat ratings, calendar and a calculator, is inset into the dash to reduce screen glare.
Our 3 favorites
Good grip: I like the tactile feel of Honda's steering wheels, and this one telescopes and tilts.
Lumbar love: Much like the steering wheel, Honda does seats well, and my back appreciates it.
Surprise factor: The Crosstour is practically nimble.
Cool blue: The white-on-black gauges have blue lighting that's easy on the eyes.
Cargo room: The area is huge, even with the rear seats up.
Smooth ride: It's stable and comfortable.
Bottom line: Want the comfort and reliability of an Accord? Don't want a crossover or SUV but need more cargo options? Don't mind standing out in a crowd? If you answered yes to all of the above, then consider the Crosstour.