2013 Honda Crosstour Review and Prices
The 2013 Honda Crosstour is the best crossover SUV for you if you want to experience why a determined automaker won’t give up on a sound design.
The 2013 Honda Crosstour gets styling updates and a new transmission claimed to improve fuel economy. But there’s no change to an overall shape that gets much of the blame for this crossover’s poor sales. Crosstour remains a blend of Honda Accord station wagon and midsize SUV. Fine road manners and good passenger room for five are assets. But the sloping rear roofline compromises cargo versatility. Honda attempted to widen this odd duck’s appeal with the model-year 2012 addition of a budget-minded four-cylinder model to go along with the V-6. That combo returns for 2013, but wholesale change is probably a few years off.
Should you wait for the 2013 Honda Crosstour or buy a 2012 Honda Crosstour? The 2013 Crosstour’s styling changes are minor but effective and will help your purchase look fresher, longer. Worth waiting for as well is the 2013 V-6 model’s six-speed automatic transmission in place of an old-fashioned five-speed. Still, if you like this basic concept and aren’t convinced the 2013 changes are worth paying more for, shop the 2012 Crosstour. It doesn’t look drastically different from a 2013, has all the same key design features, and will be available at close-out prices to make room for the freshened model.
2013 Honda Crosstour Changes back to top
Styling: We find merit in the Crosstour’s general design but sympathize with critics who might dismiss updates to the 2013 model’s nose and tail as merely lipstick on a pig. Still, the midcycle facelift does introduce a more substantial-looking front end and slightly stronger character at the rear. The grille is simpler and a little more angular. The lower front fascia gets a more prominent chin that visually ties into new contrasting-color lower-body-side trim. And the taillamps have a more horizontal design that adds visual width to the rump.
Honda pitches the changes as taking the 2013 Crosstour in a more SUV-like direction, though this crossover continues on the structural foundation that underpinned the 2008-2012 Accord sedan. Honda in fact introduced this wagon for model-year 2010 as the “Accord” Crosstour, a name shortened to Crosstour for model-year 2012.
The original intent was to create an Accord flagship by exploiting the trend toward crossovers with sporty coupe-like rooflines. Honda retained the Accord sedan’s wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) but slapped on a wider, longer, and significantly taller wagon body. The front looked like an Accord but the rear culminated in a sloped hatchback tail that lacked visual grace and cut into cargo space.
Honda is introducing a newer, slightly more compact 2013 Accord while the 2013 Crosstour carries on unaltered in basic size or shape. Crosstour continues with exceptional passenger room and seats situated higher than those in conventional cars but not quite as elevated as those in more truck-like crossovers, such as the Ford Explorer or Honda’s own Pilot.
The 2013 Crosstour is again capable of carrying around 26 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seat and 51 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. That’s useful volume but still short by some 10 and 20 cubic feet, respectively, of rivals such as the Toyota Venza and Subaru Outback. Blame the slant of that rear roofline, which also limits the shape of what the Crosstour can hold.
Inside, the 2013 Crosstour gets heavily revised trim materials and a dashboard revamped to accommodate an 8-inch information display and available pushbutton ignition.
Details were not final at the time of this review, but expect Honda to maintain the core of the Crosstour’s model lineup for 2013. Base EX, midline EX-L (leather upholstery), and top-line EX-L Navi (navigation system) trim should return, all available again with both the four- and six-cylinder engines.
In the only exterior styling differentiation between the models, V-6 EX-L and EX-L Navi had come with 18-inch alloy wheels versus plainer-looking 17-inch alloys on the other models. Honda says the 2013 Crosstour’s 18-inch alloys are of a new design.
Mechanical: The 2013 Honda Crosstour’s main mechanical changes involve the V-6 engine. It now pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission and is re-engineered, Honda says, to deliver more powerful with better gas mileage than the 2012 version.
The 2013 Crosstour’s base engine remains a 2.4-liter four-cylinder borrowed from the 2012 Accord. It stays at 192 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the true force behind acceleration). It continues with a five-speed automatic transmission, which makes this version of the Crosstour seem ever-more dated against the majority of competitors that use six-speed automatics.
Interestingly, Honda chose not to replace the 2013 Crosstour’s four-cylinder with the more advanced 2.4-liter four it’s introducing on the redesigned 2013 Accord. The new engine has direct fuel injection – an advance many competitors already employ -- and mates with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) rather than a conventional automatic. Direct fuel injection and the CVT are intended to optimize both performance and fuel economy.
The 2013 Crosstour’s available V-6 will remain a 3.5-liter unit and again feature Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management, which automatically deactivates two or three cylinders to conserve fuel in low-demand driving. Honda had not released output figures in time for this review but promises the re-engineered V-6 will have more than the 271 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque of the 2012 version.
Just as noteworthy, 2013 V-6 Crosstours will draw abreast of most rivals by virtue of a six-speed automatic transmission. In transmissions, the greater the number of gear ratios the more opportunity to extract engine power efficiently and conserve fuel at highway speeds. Crosstour’s six-speed automatic incorporates steering-wheel paddles that allow the driver to simulate manual-type gear control.
As with virtually all crossover SUVs, the 2013 Honda Crosstour is based on front-wheel drive engineering. This provides decent traction in snow by concentrating the mass of the drivetrain over the tires that propel the car.
While virtually every competitor offers a four-cylinder model with both front- and all-wheel drive, Honda again limits AWD to V-6 versions of the Crosstour. In fact, it had reserved AWD for only the costliest V-6 Crosstours, the EX-L and EX-L Navi versions. The automaker had not announced in time for this review whether AWD would be available on the 2013 Crosstour EX V-6 model.
Crosstour’s AWD system itself remains the type common to crossovers. Engine power is normally sent to the front wheels but is automatically reapportioned rearward to quell tire slip. It isn’t intended for off-roading and does not include a provision to lock in a torque split for extra traction at low speeds.
Features: The 2013 Honda Crosstour adds several features that also will appear on the redesigned 2013 Accord. These include systems that warn the driver of unintended lane departures or an impending frontal collision. Another addition is Honda’s new LaneWatch blind-spot display, which uses a video system mounted on the right mirror to provide an expanded view of the passenger-side roadway.
Also migrating from the new Accord to the 2013 Crosstour is enhanced telematics with a SMS text-messaging function that reads aloud received texts from compatible cell phones. Pandora Internet radio connectivity also is new to the 2013 Crosstour.
Overall, the 2013 Crosstour continues with a clearly delineated catalog of features defined by each trim level. This hews to a Honda policy that eschews individual options. For example, while some rivals offer navigation on several trim levels, Honda is likely to again confine it to the 2013 Crosstour’s EX-L Navi model. Still, barring introduction of a relatively stripped entry-level model, expect every 2013 Honda Crosstour to continue with standard features appropriate to this crossover’s upscale market positioning.
Power front seats, power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and manual tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio and cruise buttons have been standard from Crosstour’s inception. So have antilock four-wheel disc brakes, traction and antiskid control, torso-protecting front side airbags, and head-protecting curtain side airbags.
Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity and a USB iPod interface are standard on all 2013 Crosstours. Expect a backup camera to remain standard on EX and EX-L models. Helping avoid catastrophe when, say backing from a family driveway, the camera’s image displays on a portion of the inside rearview mirror. The Crosstour EX-L Navi projects its review camera image projects on the dashboard navigation screen.
Other returning standard features on all 2013 Crosstours include a 60/40 split/folding rear seatback and a storage area beneath the rear cargo floor. A cargo privacy cover and a removable under-floor cargo bin have been included on EX-L models and Honda would improve the value image of the base 2013 Crosstour by also including them in the EX model.
Same goes for the heated front seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob heretofore exclusive to EX-L models. However, expect exclusives like leather upholstery to continue to define the 2013 Crosstour EX-L model and the voice-activated navigation system to again give the EX-L Navi its identity.
2013 Honda Crosstour Prices back to top
Honda had not announced 2013 Crosstour pricing in time for this review but absent new trim levels, expect a 2013 price range of roughly $29,000-$38,000. (Estimated prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2012 Crosstour was $810.)
Estimated price range for the 2013 Crosstour four-cylinder models is $29,000-$34,000. Figure a price range of about $31,500-$32,300 for front-wheel-drive 2013 Crosstour V-6 models and $35,800-$38,000 for the AWD V-6s.
2013 Honda Crosstour Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Honda Crosstour were not released in time for this review but Honda promises the V-6 version will better its 2012 counterpart. That model was rated 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined with front-drive and 18/26/21 with AWD.
Don’t look for significant change from the four-cylinder Crosstour’s 2012 ratings of 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined. All 2013 Crosstours should again use regular-octane gas.
2013 Honda Crosstour Release Date back to top
The 2013 Honda Crosstour goes on sale in autumn 2012. This crossover will again be built alongside the Accord sedan in Honda’s Ohio factory.
What's next for the 2013 Honda Crosstour back to top
No automaker has enjoyed solid sales success with one of these experiments in more-than-a-car but not-quite-an-SUV. Remember the Chrysler Pacifica? How many BMW 5-Series Gran Turismos have you seen lately? How about a ZDX from Honda’s own upscale Acura division?
That begs the question: will Honda field a fully redesigned second-generation Crosstour? The model-year 2013 refresh can be interpreted as somewhat tentative and a clue that Honda is less than fully committed to the long term future of this slow-selling crossover. Still, our bet is that Honda will develop a redesigned Crosstour and that it’ll arrive for model-year 2015 or 2016.
Honda buyers are an educated, affluent lot. Attracted to the brand by its commitment to sound engineering and efficient design, many Honda buyers can afford to pay more for a car but choose not to. And when they do buy a Honda, especially one that’s more expensive than a Honda Civic compact or Fit subcompact, they tend to go for costlier trim levels.
The Crosstour fills a niche for the Honda loyalist who wants something larger, more distinctive, and rarer than an Accord sedan. This buyer is immune to the upper-crust airs of Honda’s premium Acura brand. And bigger, boxier crossovers hold little appeal. Whether these folks exist in sufficient numbers to keep Crosstour afloat is a decision facing Honda’s accountants, not us. But Honda has a lot of prestige invested in the free-thinking approach represented by the Crosstour, especially since the brand has come under criticism for supposedly losing its sense of innovation and design leadership.
Frankly, the first-generation Crosstour’s iffy appearance isn’t the best advertisement for Honda’s design leadership. Part of this is simply because the packaging and proportioning of these new-age crossover wagons renders it difficult for stylists to make them look beautiful. But don’t expect Honda to stop trying.
The next-generation Crosstour won’t deviate much from this first generation’s market positioning. Based on the dimensions of the redesigned 2013 Accord, it’s likely to shrink a bit in overall size and it needs a more useful cargo-carrying shape. It’s sure to have more fuel-efficient powertrains, likely those from the next-generation Accord, but also at some point perhaps a turbocharged four-cylinder or a gas-electric hybrid system. As for the styling, look for more sharply defined lines and a sleeker overall fuselage-themed shape. Don’t look for it to appeal to everyone, however.
2013 Honda Crosstour Competition back to top
Toyota Venza: As Crosstour is based on the Accord, Venza is Toyota’s crossover riff on the midsize Camry sedan. And as with the Honda, Venza traces its roots to the prevous-generation Camry, not the redesigned 2012 model, even though it also gets minor styling changes as part of a model-year 2013 refresh. Venza is a formidable foil for the Crosstour on several fronts. It has a boxier rear end so it has more cargo room. It offers four- and six-cylinder engines, but both are available with AWD and both use a six-speed automatic transmission. Power and pricing are competitive, and the 2013 Venza’s fuel economy again tops out at 23 mpg city/highway combined for four-cylinder models and 22 for V-6s. Venza was introduced for model-year 2009 and should be fully redesigned around model-year 2015.
Subaru Outback: No fancy fastback roofline here, just good-old station-wagon squareness. That pays off not only in more passenger space than in Crosstour or Venza but also with more cargo volume than in the taller Nissan Murano, too. Throw in standard AWD capable enough for light-duty off-road work, and Outback is an impressive midsize five-seat crossover. Four- and six-cylinder engines are available, with maximum fuel economy of, respectively, 24 and 20 mpg combined. No changes are expected for several years. Estimated starting price for 2013 is $25,000 for four-cylinder Outbacks and $30,000 for six-cylinder models.
Nissan Murano: Nissan detoured into Wackyville when it created the Murano CrossCabriolet two-door convertible for model-year 2011. It stays on the beaten path with the Murano four-door wagon. Nonethless, this five-seat crossover does stand out for its bullet-shaped body and gets fine performance from its only engine, a strong V-6. This is the heaviest vehicle in this grouping, though, and it shows in fuel economy that tops out at 20 mpg combined with front-drive and 19 with AWD. That one-engine strategy also creates base prices a bit higher than those of the Crosstour, Venza, and Outback. Expect the 2013 Murano wagon to start around $31,000. It’s based on the Nissan Altima sedan, which is redesigned for model-year 2013, so a redesigned Murano should follow for 2014.