Remember the hatchback? Once upon a time it seemed to rule the suburban automotive world. My first new car was a 1977 Toyota Corolla SR5 Liftback. Liftback was simply Toyota’s fancy word for the hatch that gave you access through the back of the car. Actually, it really gave you access to the entire interior. It was just one giant space ready for whatever you needed. And I used every square foot. My favorite trip involved bags of mortar I threw in the back. Fully loaded, the compressed rear end practically pulled the front end off the ground. I was worried that hitting the smallest bump would send me into a wheelie that would never land.
While the hatchback sedan has given way to SUVs and crossovers, there are still a few left, and the 2013 Honda Crosstour is one of them. Honda may call it a crossover, but it’s really just an oversized sedan with a hatchback. I’m not really sure who it was designed for. With its tall roofline, it’s not particularly svelte looking (big-boned is the term my mom would have used). It’s not unattractive, but it’s not going to turn heads. I think the people who will buy the Crosstour will like its look right away. The rest of us will just wonder what they were thinking.
Inside, the hatchback and raised roof allows you to carry more, but you can’t get carried away. It was handy for a trip to Ikea to pick up a long glass door for a bookcase. However, the floor isn’t especially wide so it will be hard to fit in the big stuff from those serious trips to Home Depot or Costco. It does have handy latches in the back that will flip the rear seats forward so you don’t have to go around to the side door while trying to balance your big items.
My test car had the 3.5 liter Earth Dreams V6 (Earth Dreams is the Honda name for the company’s most efficient technology engine). Its 278 horsepower put it in the comfortably powerful range. Mated to a six speed transmission it didn’t overwhelm you, but it also didn’t leave you waiting for the power to kick in (as some cars do). My all Real Time Four Wheel Drive version was rated for 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. If you’re willing to settle for a little less power, you can get a 192 horsepower 4-cylinder version with a five speed. Go for the front wheel drive version and you’ll end up with about three more mpg.It weighs about 300 pounds more than a regular Honda sedan, but it I didn’t find that particularly noticeable. I did think the electric assisted power steering was rather light, but most people will think it’s just fine.
If the 2013 Crosstour has a weak point for me, it’s the interior. Maybe I’m just not used to Honda ergonomics, but nothing seemed quite right. The control center on the dash seemed to have way too many buttons spread out all over the place. I wasn’t a big fan of the large dial that controlled the display. Mainly because it was exactly where I thought the volume should have been. While the upper display was big enough, it didn’t show enough information when I was using the Sirius radio. One of the fun parts for me is listening to old songs and seeing the year. The Crosstour’s display always cut that part off, even though it had plenty of display real estate left. The navigation system was average, which means it’s still not as good as my phone. And then there was the center console. It was just too far back. I don’t think I sit particularly far forward, but I found the only thing that landed on the console was my elbow. It wasn’t particularly restful. My last nitpick was with the matt finished faux wood trim that looked like it needed a little refinishing.
The Crosstour did have one of my favorite new gadgets. It has a camera mounted under the outside mirror on the passenger side. When you signal to turn right, the display shows the view beside the car. Forget those blind spot alerts. This lets you see what is actually beside you. A series of three lines let’s you guesstimate if you’re far enough ahead to safely complete the pass. You can even turn on the camera with a button on the end of the stalk. That’s especially cool when you want a better look at the Ferrari F50 that just pulled into your blind spot.
My test car was the top of the line EX-L V6. For $37,920 it came fully loaded with dual-zone climate control, heated leather-trimmed seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, along with HondaLink with Aha capability (so your car can check Facebook for you), Pandora, and Internet radio capability.
I have to admit I’m a little harder on Honda that other makes. The carmaker has been the gold standard for so long that anything less is a disappointment. The Crosstour does everything it’s supposed to do just fine, it just doesn’t rise above. On the other hand, when you’re looking for a car that puts you slightly above the crowd, with a little more cargo room, without putting you into the cookie cutter SUV/crossover world, the Crosstour really is a solid choice. Plus you get to relive your hatchback days.