October 7, 2013 8:15 AM | By John LeBlanc for MSN Autos

2013 Honda Crosstour road test



2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
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  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • 2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
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2013 Honda Crosstour EX-L 2WD

An Accord hatchback by any other name

2013 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is one cliché that works particularly well when coming to terms with the 2013 Honda Crosstour, a vehicle that’s been criticised more for its looks than the way it performs.

Called the Accord Crosstour when it was introduced for 2010, the idea of a more practical version of Honda’s ever-popular mid-size sedan (including the option of all-wheel drive) looked like a marketing no-brainer. Here was a vehicle for new car buyers not needing all the capacity (or size and weight) of a large SUV or crossover, but wanting the fuel economy and better driving characteristics of a conventional sedan. Slam. Dunk. Right?

However, instead of making the Accord Crosstour appear like a station wagon (i.e. Subaru’s Outback) or crossover (i.e. Toyota’s Venza), Honda designers created neither fish nor fowl, with the high-riding, four-door hatchback ending up looking like something the Hunchback of Notre Dame would drive.

Crosstour drops the Accord name and its price for 2013

2013 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)

Since then, customers haven’t known what to make of the practical Accord. Was it a wagon? Nope. Was it a crossover? Not really. And it didn’t help that the Crosstour was sold in Canada only with the Accord’s top-line six-cylinder gas engine, an option that few of the sedan buyers chose. Needless to say, Crosstour sales have been modest. In all of 2012, only 1,048 Crosstours found homes in Canada, compared to the 9,930 Accord four-door sedans Honda sold.

With a new generation of Accord sedan and coupe arriving for 2013, I’d have understood if Honda ditched the Crosstour altogether. Instead, the Japanese automaker has decided to soldier on with its mid-size, front- or all-wheel-drive, five-passenger hatchback. For 2013, the Crosstour continues with the last-generation Accord chassis, but officially drops the “Accord” from its nameplate. Including some updates to the interior, minor exterior styling changes have been wrought to make the Crosstour look more like an SUV. Also important to the possibility of increasing sales, a more fuel-efficient and less expensive four-cylinder gas engine model has been added in addition to the six-cylinder versions.

Four cylinders make the 2013 Crosstour more affordable than ever

2013 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L 2WD (© Photo: John LeBlanc)

As before, the 2013 Honda Crosstour’s two closest rivals are the aforementioned Subaru Outback and Toyota Venza. But now, with the new $28,990 base model, four-cylinder 2013 Crossotur EX 2WD starting at $6,000 less than the most affordable 2012 Crosstour, the Honda can compete with the $28,690 four-cylinder 2013 Toyota Venza FWD and all-wheel-drive $28,495 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i.

My tester was a $32,650 Crosstour EX-L 2WD. Over the Crosstour EX, leather can now be found on the steering wheel, gearshift knob and seating surfaces, the pair of front thrones now heated and with a memory function on the driver’s seat and side mirrors with reverse tilting capability. As well, an upgraded audio system with satellite radio is standard.

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