The cars we loved.
Honda rarely makes bold new product moves in the US, so when the decision was made to replace its slow selling Accord wagon with the oddly designed Accord Crosstour, it raised some eyebrows. On introduction Honda fancied the sportwagon, fastback crossover a competitor to the BMW X6.
Once the media stopped laughing, Honda came to the realization that its new creation would have its hands full with Toyota’s Venza.
After all Toyota did something similar with the Venza, a replacement for the unloved Camry wagon. While the Venza looked the part of a sporty crossover, the Crosstour had a more car like profile, but with near SUV like ground clearance. Imagine the Accord with a fastback (cool) and a stubby higher ground clearance (not so cool). The result was a vehicle with a identity crisis.
Early ads featured the car as a more luxurious version of the Accord, abet one with truck like virtues. They even made a point of adding Accord to the name. It started right at $30k, making it more expensive than the Accord EX. For that money there was more equipment, especially safety and entertainment options, but was it a station wagon or a crossover?
That conflicted image still haunts the Crosstour. While the Venza visually had a clear mission, Honda would drop the Accord part of the Crosstour’s name in hopes of distancing the two car’s missions. Rare Honda marketing mishaps did not help the Crosstour’s case, as sales began to dive after a peak in 2010 of over 28,000 units sold.
Initially the Crosstour was offered only with a V6, the same one in the top Accord. In an attempt to increase sales a 2.4L inline four and a six speed transmission was added for 2012. Shortly after there would be a mild facelift.
The smaller engine with its 192 hp offered decent performance and mileage figures, but more economical options existed from Subaru. A typical Outback would struggle to keep up with even the four cylinder Crosstour with its low 7 second time to 60 mph. That kind of swiftness may have been what inspired Honda to think it had a BMW fighter on its hands initially.
The larger engine gave the Crosstour considerably better acceleration with 275 hp. Ride quality and road manners were all good as was the user configurable and luxurious interior. Like any modern Honda, it had plenty of gadgets and safety features. There were even paddle shifters for those who wanted to play Indy car while using all of the Crosstours 51 cubic feet of cargo space.
Despite the elegance imparted by a sloping rear roof line, the rear end could appear bulbous if looked at just right. The high ground clearance, especially on the all-wheel drive models did little to help the Crosstour’s luxury car intentions.
If the Crosstour has been a Ford or Dodge product, it would likely have been canceled after just a few years. Because it was a Honda, it managed to sell in part due to Honda’s excellent reputation. Even ugly cars get sold if they are built by the right people.
Unfortunately, most customers were simply confused as to the Crosstour’s mission. Meanwhile the Venza was selling well. It like the Crosstour could be had in front or all-wheel drive, but it looked the part of an upscale crossover, while the Honda was not sure if it wanted to be a Subaru Outback or a sporty wagon-thing German fighter thing.
Honda has since dropped the Accord part of the name, suggesting that the Crosstour will go off in a more definitive un-car like direction. In 2013, a slight another refresh gave it more rugged SUV-like design cues. As of 2013, sales are at their lowest point since the partial first year of production in 2009.
As nice a concept as the Crosstour could be I can’t help but wonder what it might look like if it had gone further in the car direction. The ongoing identity crisis is being mitigated somewhat as Honda has decided to push the Crosstour in a more SUV direction.
Honda has to be commended for making a unique vehicle, but they might have been better served by giving the Crosstour a more definitive mission at its introduction. The movement into more SUV like territory is a good first step, but a true fastback sedan version of the Accord might get Crosstours out of the showrooms faster.