Harry Pegg

Crosstour, the enigma with the heart of an Accord

2013 Honda Crosstour

Crosstour, the enigma with the heart of an Accord

2013 Honda Crosstour

Is it a sedan? A station wagon? A hatchback? A crossover?

It’s all of them and none of them. It’s the 2013 Honda Crosstour, the enigma with the heart of an Accord.

MORE: 2013 Honda Crosstour trims and other specs

Designers have retained the character while giving the exterior a more rugged look that’s evident in this week’s test vehicle, a Crosstour EX-L model from Honda Canada – a front-wheel driver with new comfort, convenience and safety features.

Also new, for Canada anyway, is a standard-equipment 2.4L four-cylinder engine which produces 192 horsepower and 162 lb. ft. of torque. Linked to a smooth-shifting five-speed automatic, it’s capable of brisk acceleration while remaining thrifty at the gas pumps. In fact, during my test period I get better combined consumption than company figures would lead me to expect.

I confess I’m at a crossroads over Crosstour’s look. There are days I like it and days I don’t, but I soon discover people are inclined to love it or hate it with little in between. In either case, it’s a head-turner.

Inside, EX-L gives me leather upholstery with heated front seats and side mirrors with reverse tilting capability (that’s a feature I dislike). The multi-function steering wheel is leather wrapped as is the gearshift knob.

I’ve got Bluetooth to link up my phone and entertainment devices and a 360-Watt audio system to play them with.

By far my favorite feature and, I think, one of the best safety features to find its way into the automotive market in years, is what Honda calls a LaneWatch blind spot camera. Mounted on the bottom outside edge of the passenger mirror, it projects an image of what’s going on alongside and behind the vehicle on the right hand side. It’s activated when the signal light lever is activated to signal a right hand turn or it can be turned on by pushing a button on the end of the lever. No more shoulder checks, just a glance at the screen in the centre of the dash.

Also standard is a rear backup camera and (on EX-L models) lane departure warning and forward collision warning. That’s all in addition to a full line of airbags, vehicle stability control, ABS and Honda’s ACE body structure.

When it comes to drive-ability, Crosstour doesn’t take long to make it known that it is really an Accord in a different uniform.

Its driving dynamics are pure Accord: well sorted out, unflappable, responsive and fun. Its independent suspension setup can handle anything the road throws at it. Well, almost anything – grave-like potholes will jar everybody aboard.

The four-cylinder engine is excellent on the highway and perky enough around town. I’d still gravitate toward the V6, though, even if it is more expensive.

I come away with a real liking for the Crosstour, except for its abysmal rearward visibility. Even with the glass insert in the bottom of the hatch, it’s difficult to see everything that’s going on behind you. That’s why I’m so in love with that blind spot camera.

A Crosstour tour for two, or even four, is not a daunting idea. Cargo capacity is quite good with rear seat set up to carry people and downright cavernous with the second row seats folded flat.