2012 Honda Crosstour EXL 4WD: Doing it all?

2012, Honda, Crosstour

I expected that Honda’s attempt to make an Accord into a crossover- do it all- urban four-wheel drive highway runner, would fall short somewhere. When manufacturers look at niche’s to fill in their model lineup, they can create the perfect vehicle that no one wants to buy. Examples like an Acura RL, Pontiac G8, and Infiniti Q-45 come to mind. All of these are wonderful vehicles… some of my favorites of all time yet none of them captured the public’s interest because they were too expensive (to buy) to “do it all.” My expectations have been exceeded with the Honda Crosstour. It really does have function and form blended nicely but it is still on the expensive side. Honda has sold 12,940 units YTD (down 29.4% from August of 2010). However, some of this slowdown in sales is due to inventory restrictions leftover from the tsunami.

The Crosstour's exterior looks like an Accord on steroids. It is taller, longer, and wider at the shoulders and all of this gets no more room for 5 passengers. However, the rear cargo space is increased up to 25.7 cubic feet with the rear seat in place. There is a large storage area under the rear deck and two more side cubbies that keep milk bottles from sliding around. The exterior sloping lines (reminiscent of the BMW X6) limits rear visibility and rear seat head room but not as much as BMW’s design.

The interior styling comes straight over from Acura’s MDX and new TL. Honda’s attention to detail is improving and the Crossover just seems to be a little more upscale than the Accord. Soft-touch details extend from the passenger compartment all the way through the cargo area, including reversible cargo floor panels for dirty objects. The driver’s position is adjustable enough for shorter drivers to see over the elongated hood while the front seats are supportive and adjustable enough for my 6’3” body. The rear seat takes a hit for my-sized person due to the roofline and this was not necessary for the Crosstour to appeal to current Accord owners who are stepping out of an SUV. Just another inch or two back there would have been great for all passengers. Hip/shoulder room in the rear is generous (56.2 inches/53.9 inches).

The Crosstour is available in two trim levels, the Crosstour EX and EX-L. Our test unit included navigation and XM radio. This service shows traffic flow and alternative routes which was first introduced in the previous Acura LT, which is really handy in the Southern California area. More convenient than Google Maps™ on an iPhone™, this system updates quickly and gives audible direction changes. New on the 2012 Crosstour EX and previously included on the EXL, is an auto on/off headlight sensor (which is too sensitive for bridges tunnels and shadows across the dashboard), a rearview camera, Bluetooth®1 HandsFreeLink® and USB audio interface.

The Crosstour continues with the standard 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine. It continues to produce 271 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 254 lb-ft. of torque at 5,000 RPM. Even with the additional weight of the four-wheel drive system, this engine pulls and pushes this crossover with plenty of power. Honda continues to tweak the software for their proven Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system to balance the torque output and the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. To maximize efficiency, the engine's VCM cylinder deactivation system is programmed to run on 3, 4 or 6 cylinders, based on current power requirements. I have driven this displacement system on Honda’s Odyssey, Accord, Pilot, and Crosstour in FWD, AWD, and 4WD. Always seamless in execution, the computer system has gotten better on power delivery and economy each model year.

The Crosstour has an EPA-rated city/highway/combined fuel economy of 18/27/21 mpg on the 2WD models. Our recent Crosstour EX-L with Real Time™ 4WD delivers an EPA-rated city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 18/26/21 mpg. With just one mpg penalty on the highway, I expected to get these numbers but only achieved 20.1 mpg after 250 miles of family duties on LA freeways and 100 city miles. A six-speed automatic would be better suited for this crossover that will live primarily on asphalt. To be fair, our Crosstour had not been fully broken-in yet and the mileage should improve over the first 10,000 miles. I expected the Crosstour’s 6.2 inches of ground clearance to create handling that leaned in the corners, thus taking away the joy of twisty road driving. I was surprised again. Even without the exotic suspension systems found in the BWW X6, this Honda performed well on mountain roads and off mountain roads on light-duty trails. The Honda double wishbone front suspension and the independent multi-link rear suspension absorbed the bumps while keeping the body flat in the curves. The standard front and rear stabilizer bars (4WD) are 27.2 mm and 15.0 mm respectively, and keep the Crosstour tracking straight and true. Wheel travel and articulation is limited so there will be no boulder climbing with this car. Yet, country roads are calling for a crossover like this one.

Standard on the Crosstour EX-L are 18-inch aluminum wheels and P225/60R18 all-season tires which do not create too harsh a ride on uneven pavement. These tires also have a fair amount of grip in slippery stuff. Unfortunately, I was unable to find some real deep mud or snow, but there is plenty of deep sand where I live and the Crosstour crossed the desert terrain with no problems. The included Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control in combination with Honda’s proven Real Time™ 4WD is full-time traction on all surfaces. The VSA can be disengaged if there is deep mud to concur. I approve of Honda’s decision to keep the 4WD calabrated to urban streets rather than off-road or track conditions. After all, where will 99.9% of Crosstour driver’s live out their existence?

The first-generation Crosstour electronic steering system I drove 2 years ago was numb and not very responsive. Honda has fixed this standard electric-powered steering and given it a better on-center feel. Other standard features on the Crosstour EX include projector-beam headlights, fog lights, 17-inch aluminum wheels with P225/65R17 all-season tires, a moonroof, dual-zone automatic A/C with second-row vents, a 360-watt AM/FM 6-disc audio system with steering wheel audio controls, and a compass and outside temperature indicator.

Cruise control is also included on both EX and EXL but no emergency stopping radar system like found on Acura’s line can be ordered. With our EXL Nav coming up to $37,350 (including destination), competitors start to include “smart” cruise and accident avoidance features as options. Honda will need to consider some of the more advanced electronic features like blind spot sensors and lane-changing warnings if they wish to compete with likes of Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti, and even Ford/Lincoln in this price range.

Our EXL also included leather-trimmed seats with heat, driver-side seat memory, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink™ transmitter, and cargo cover. The audio system is first class and new Kevlar® cone audio speakers and front aluminum dome-type tweeter speakers can really give a live concert listening experience up front. Although the single-control knob for all audio, nav, and system adjustments is still a little difficult to learn, thankfully Honda has included a volume knob and some preset pushbuttons for radio stations for us old-timers.

The Honda Satellite-linked Navigation System and the Real Time™ 4WD mentioned above are available together or separately on the Crosstour EX-L. The Navigation system includes a rearview camera with guidance lines integrated into the display. Last but not least, according to my wife, two new colors for 2012 include Twilight Blue Metallic (replacing Glacier Blue Metallic) and Basque Red Pearl (replacing Tango Red Pearl).

Safety continues to include their ACE™ rigid body structure that assists in occupant protection and crash energy absorption. Crosstour includes a host of other features like four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, driver's and front passenger's side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, and active front seat head restraints. The Crosstour is assembled in Ohio at the Honda of America Mfg., Inc., East Liberty Auto Plant.

The 2012 Crosstour does not actually do everything perfectly but no one car does. The visibility is not as limited as one imagines. The handling is not sloppy and actually is enjoyable on almost every surface. The cargo capacity is better than any sedan and it can even tow a small trailer up to 1,500 lbs. If consumers are looking for one vehicle to replace their SUV and their sedan, the Honda Crosstour might just be the one vehicle to accomplish this task, if you can afford the payments and the gasoline.

Model Transmission MSRP EPACity/Hwy/Combined

Crosstour 2WD EX 5-Speed Automatic $30,340 18/27/21 Crosstour 2WD EX-L 5-Speed Automatic $32,990 18/27/21 Crosstour 2WD EX-L Navi 5-Speed Automatic $35,090 18/27/21 Crosstour 4WD EX-L 5-Speed Automatic $34,440 18/26/21

Crosstour 4WD EX-L Navi 5-Speed Automatic $36,540 18/26/21

By Jim Powell

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Images of the 2012, Honda Crosstour

2012 Honda Crosstour
2012 Honda Crosstour
inside the Crosstour back seat
inside the Crosstour back seat
lots of cargo room
lots of cargo room