Just last year, the Honda Crosstour got a redesign, including new exterior styling, an upgraded interior, and a more-powerful optional V-6 engine that also comes with a six-speed automatic transmission.For 2014, prices begin at $27,380 (plus $830 freight) for the base EX front-wheel-drive model with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission, or $31,040 for the front-drive EX V-6 model, which comes with the new six-speed automatic.The Crosstour, a five-passenger midsize crossover, tops out at $37,240 for the four-wheel-drive EX-L (leather) model with navigation, which we tested for this report.Four-wheel drive is available only with the V-6 engine, and only with the leather interior. But four-cylinder models also can be equipped with leather and navigation. With the leather upholstery, the four-cylinder EX-L is $31,065, and with navigation, it’s $33,165. The V-6 front-drive with leather is $33,690, and with navigation, $35,790.Added to the Honda lineup for 2010 and originally called the Accord Crosstour, this essentially is a hatchback version of the Accord sedan. The Accord designation was dropped from the name two years ago, however, when the four-cylinder model was added.It’s still mostly an Accord, which is a good thing. But the Crosstour does have a larger grille and some other subtle differences.The rear is sloped to give the car more of a sedan or coupe look rather than the boxy appearance of an SUV. But it still has the versatility of an SUV, with 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat that expands to 51.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. All Crosstour models come with a rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone link, USB/iPod connection, fog lights, one-touch turn signals, and Honda’s Expanded View Driver's Mirror.Exterior colors added last year are Kona Coffee Metallic and Mountain Air Metallic, the nice blue color of our test vehicle.Also included is keyless entry with pushbutton start, which is becoming a standard feature on many new cars, even ones that cost a lot less than the Crosstour.The coolest feature just may be the Crosstour’s LaneWatch right-side blind-spot camera system, which puts a live image of the right side of the road on the dash screen from a camera mounted on the passenger-side mirror. My teenage passengers were quite impressed.It automatically comes on when the right turn signal is switched on, showing the driver what’s to the right of the car and any traffic approaching from the rear in the right lane. You can see the side of the car from the mirror back. It’s a great help when trying to line up the car with the curb while parallel parking, but its greatest value is in eliminating the blind spot on the right side of the car when changing lanes or turning right.The four-cylinder engine, with 192 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque, has the best EPA ratings, even with only a five-speed automatic: 22 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined.With the optional 3.5-liter V-6, there is 278 horsepower and 252 foot-pounds of torque, and EPA ratings of 20 city/30 highway/23 combined (front drive) or 19/28/22 (4WD). The highway rating is aided by the six-speed automatic, which also comes with manual shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel.The Crosstour comes with chrome door handles, 17-inch alloy wheels (EX, EX-L four-cylinder) or 18-inch alloys (EX-L V-6), automatic projector-beam headlights, a one-touch power moon roof, body-color power/fold-away outside mirrors with defrost, express up/down front windows, and rear privacy glass.Other standard features include automatic climate control with an air-filtration system (dual-zone on the EX-L V-6), a 360-watt AM/FM/six-disc CD audio system with seven speakers, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, USB audio hookup, steering-wheel-mounted cruise/audio/phone controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 60/40 split-folding rear seatback, and a hidden removable utility box.With our EX-L model, we had leather upholstery and heated front seats, along with a two-person memory for the driver's seat and outside mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, HondaLink telematics with Pandora Internet radio compatibility, XM satellite radio, compass and outside temperature indicators, and, only on the EX-L V-6, a universal garage/gate opener. We also had the Honda navigation system.New safety technology on the EX-L models includes Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning systems. The rear headrests have been slimmed down and reshaped to provide better rearward visibility.The air conditioning has second-row ventilation. Other interior features include an under-floor storage area in the rear, along with reversible cargo floor panels – carpeted on one side, hard on the other (ideal for dirty objects). There is a large opening for the rear hatch, which helps immensely when loading luggage or other cargo.The V-6 engine uses variable cylinder management to save on fuel. This system automatically cuts out either two or three of the cylinders during highway cruising to help give the vehicle a better highway EPA rating.Four-wheel-drive models have Honda’s permanent "Real Time 4WD" system, which operates automatically with no driver input. There is no way to turn it off. It’s designed for everyday driving, though, not for serious off-road exploring, as it does not feature low-range gearing.Other Crosstour safety features include Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering – ACE -- body structure, along with electronic stability control, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; side-curtain air bags with a rollover sensor for both rows; driver and front-passenger side air bags; and active front head restraints.We had up to five passengers in the Crosstour on several occasions, and the backseat riders seemed to be comfortable enough and have plenty of head-, leg- and knee room. Up front, the driver and passenger rode quite comfortably, and the cabin was quiet at highway speeds.The V-6 provides all the power you’d need for any situation, and we even tested it on some hilly roads. The transmission shifts smoothly and at just the right spots, and I let it do its thing for the most part, rather than fooling with the manual shift paddles.Total sticker price for our EX-L four-wheel-drive Crosstour with navigation was $38,070.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com.