Friday, July 23, 2010

Honda crosses over with a nice new offering

Sacramento, California – Sometimes you want something different. And you get that in the new-for-2010 Honda Accord Crosstour.

Say “Accord” and you expect economical, just-the-right-size passenger car hardware. The Crosstour is not quite that.

Honda calls it a crossover utility vehicle, or CUV, combining the best aspects of a premium sedan and a sport-utility vehicle. There are repeated references to it as an SUV in various auto magazines.

Me, I’d call it more of a hatchback wagon, although I realize that those words tend to be the kiss of death in the auto biz.

No matter, the Crosstour still has that versatility thing going for it.

The tester was the four-wheel drive EX-L model, with navigation. That’s the most expensive of five trim levels, stickering at $36,220. The tester had zero extras on it, but that was just fine with me, because the standard features were sweet and plentiful.

The tested Crosstour was downright primo/luxo over the top, with goodies that included a 10-way driver’s seat, mega-leather surfaces (including the steering wheel) and a rearview camera. Air bags and safety features were so numerous as to make you feel super-secure. Thankfully, I never had to test them.

What did test out nicely was the Crosstour’s performance, surprisingly zippy even with a healthy 3.5-liter V-6 pumping out a max 271 horsepower. Ordinarily, that’s sort of right on the border for challenging speeding traffic on the interstate or making that tight lane change.

These were not issues with the Crosstour. It responded instantly and enthusiastically to foot taps/stomps on the accelerator. It climbed steep hills with remarkable ease. Handling was quick and agile. Indeed, the vehicle responded like a sport sedan in most driving situations.

Styling is sleek and aerodynamic, so much so that I defy most people not to call it a hot-looking wagon upon first seeing it.

The cargo-carrying configurations are nice, and Honda does a good job of covering the small things, like adequate covering of the cargo area when you close the back boot. It’s impossible to see from the outside what’s stored in the vehicle. That will save you a big headache in some towns.

The comparatively muscular engine registers un-Honda-like fuel mileage numbers of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. That’s the price you pay for a little oomph. And for my money, the starting price of $36,220 also seems a bit heavy. Had I been the king of Honda, I would have stood on my head to have the sticker price come in below $35,000.

All things considered, this is a nice new horse in the Honda stable. Call it what you want. Test drive it for sure.

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