First Look: 2013 Honda Crosstour Concept

Just because the Honda (Accord) Crosstour abides by a time-tested formula for crossover glory (take one wagon, raise its ride height, and sell it as an alternative to an SUV) doesn't mean it was immediately bound for glory. In 2010, the Crosstour's first full year on the market, Honda sold over 28,000 examples, but that figure dropped by an astounding 37 percent to just over 17,000 vehicles in 2011.

What's an automaker to do? Would a design refresh and a helping of extra content improve the Crosstour's fortune? Honda appears to think so, since the 2013 Crosstour -- previewed by the Crosstour Concept shown here, abides by those very principles.

Less Bloat, More Butch

Though the Crosstour's long, sloping roofline is a little ungainly, it remains unchanged for the 2013 model year. Instead, the 2013 Crosstour's makeover is limited mostly to its front and rear fascias and other exterior trim.

The biggest change is in front, where the original Crosstour's bulbous grille surround and plain, chunky bumpers are a thing of the past. The 2013 model -- at least in concept form -- wears a large, two-bar grille that neatly transitions into the car's headlamp assemblies. Even the latter are a departure from the present model: not only do their long, tapered forms echo those of the forthcoming 2013 Accord coupe and sedan, but their bezels are now chrome.

Much like Subaru's Legacy, the Crosstour Concept gains argent cladding that wraps around the entire vehicle. Up front, it's tied into two fog lamp surrounds that blister away from the remainder of the bumper surface, much like those on the 2013 Accord Coupe Concept. These, however, sport silver accents designed to compliment what appears to be a small skid plate centered on the bumper's leading edge. A silver accent, embedded into the cladding on the rocker sills, also helps dress up the bodyside, although it remains to be seen if this is merely a conceptual touch.

One aspect we know will be unique to the concept is the wheels: the 19-inch five-spoke, two-tone rims you see here are, according to Honda, relegated to the Crosstour Concept. The 2013 Crosstour will certainly gain new alloy wheel patterns, but at this stage, it seems they'll be no larger than 18-inch rims.

Powertrain

You'll find less revision within the confines of the 2013 Crosstour's engine compartment. Honda added a four-cylinder Crosstour variant for the 2012 model year, and it returns for 2013, providing another model variant for shoppers who value fuel economy over sheer power. Unlike the 2013 Accord, which receives Honda's new direct-injection 2.4-liter I-4, the Crosstour will continue using the same 192-hp, 2.4-liter, DOHC I-4 as before. Six-cylinder models continue to use Honda's 271-hp, 3.5-liter, DOHC V-6, which features cylinder deactivation, allowing it to run on three- or four-cylinders under light loads.

A five-speed automatic is standard on four-cylinder models, but six-cylinder Crosstours receive a six-speed transmission. All-wheel-drive continues to be offered only on the six-cylinder model, and is further restricted to the EX-L trim level.

Four-cylinder Crosstours should continue to return around 21/29 mpg (city/highway). Six-cylinder models will likely see a mild increase in fuel-economy ratings thanks to the new six-speed gearbox. Front-wheel-drive 2012 models with the five-speed automatic are presently rated 18/27 mpg, while all-wheel-drive Crosstours earn a 18/26 mpg rating from the EPA.

More Content

It does appear the 2013 Crosstour will pack a few more goodies into its cabin than before. Lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems will be available for the first time, as will Honda's new LaneWatch system, which displays objects in the passenger-side blind spot on a screen embedded in the passenger-side rear-view mirror.

ABS, traction, and stability controls will continue to be standard equipment on the 2013 Crosstour, as will automatic exterior light controls, a rear-view camera, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth hands-free phone functionality, and a USB audio input. Honda's latest infotainment system, which adds Pandora Web radio and SMS text messaging functions when paired with a smartphone, will be an optional extra.

Will It Sell (More?)

How all this will translate into sales volumes remains to be seen. We can't help but notice Subaru is introducing a revised 2013 Outback at this very same New York show, while Toyota's refreshed 2013 Venza crossover -- frequently considered a competitor to the Crosstour -- is also debuting at the same venue. Honda's updates may be welcome, but the fast-paced midsize crossover segment means the Crossover's competition will remain as fierce as ever.

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