2010 Honda Crosstour EX-L: Conflicted Mission

Written by Brian Armstead

I’m a big fan of Honda cars and SUVs. I like the way Honda stuck to their guns when others were building behemoth SUVs and cars with big engines that suck away natural resources. Small displacement engines with big output have been the rule at Honda. “Safety for Everyone” is a marketing tagline that’s more than hype, as Honda builds some of the safest cars on the market. So why am I scratching my head about the 2010 Crosstour?

My first reaction to the Crosstour as I rounded the corner to my home, seeing it parked in the driveway, was “wow, that sure is ugly.” There’s no middle ground here folks, as during ten days of testing, reactions were strongly in favor or against the unique styling, with no middle ground comments. It somewhat resembles BMW’s new X6 Crossover Utility, which I think is also butt ugly. A sloping hood, tall cabin, and high, rounded rear deck are tied together with various creases and character lines to create what I think is a very busy design, sure to cost extra insurance dough due to the complex stampings of body panels.

And this is a large car, with a wheelbase of 110 inches and an overall length of 196.8 inches. That’s nearly seventeen feet of automobile. In comparison, the wonderful Honda Pilot SUV has a wheelbase of 109 inches and an overall length of 191 inches. The Crosstour has a 51.3 cubic foot cargo capacity, the Pilot 87.0 cubic foot capacity. The Crosstour seats five, the Pilot eight. Both have available four-wheel drive systems. Pilot MSRP is $27,895 – Crosstour MSRP is $29,670.

So the big question here is why? Why would I buy an oddly styled vehicle that has less cargo capacity, carries three fewer passengers and costs $1,775 more than a Honda Pilot?

To be sure, the Crosstour comes standard with a great deal of useful safety and convenience features.

Interior finish is first rate, and I liked the simplicity of operating Crosstour’s controls. Aside from an oddly placed fan speed control (it’s to the far right when other HVAC controls are on the left closer to the driver), and a 12 volt power point lid on the lower console that doesn’t quite open far enough, I have no gripes at all about the interior. Blue ambient lighting is a nice touch at night, complimenting the blue needles on dash gauges. The standard (on EX-L models) navigation system is among the best in the industry, and is very easy to use. Images from the rear view camera are difficult to see on sunny days.

On the road, the 271 V6 engine is adequate in propelling the Crosstour’s 4070 pound curb weight. The driver’s position is cramped for tall drivers, I think anyone over 6’2” will not be very comfortable. At 6’9”, I’ve had more leg room in econo cars like Honda’s own Civic and Fit. Road manners are good for a two-ton vehicle, but the Crosstour never encourages you to push it to test its handling capabilities, as it feels heavy when driving. Ride quality is good, with urban street decay well isolated from the cabin. The major flaw with the driving experience is the lack of rear vision in the Crosstour. With “C” pillars that are very wide and extend continuously into a rounded rear, blind spots are huge. Given the slope of the rear hatch, rearward vision is awful. There’s two-tier glass at the rear – the traditional hatch glass and a lower glass panel separated by a black frame. Even at my lofty height, I had trouble seeing out the rear during backing, given I could not see much in the daytime with the dim rear camera screen. Short drivers will be left to wonder what is behind them. Lane changes require divine protection, as you can lose an 18-wheeler in the huge blind spots. Contrast this with the Pilot, with lots of glass in the rear for easy outward vision.

Fuel economy is decent, with 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway ratings. Crosstour is assembled in the U.S. in East Liberty, Ohio.

My fully EX-L tester had an MSRP of $36,930, including destination charges. I don’t understand where Honda is going with this vehicle, as it is not as capable as their own Pilot SUV. It’s more expensive and far more difficult to drive, given the poor rearward vision. Pass on this model and look at the Pilot, the Mercedes GLK, Mazda CX-9, and the many other excellent utility vehicles that are priced similarly.