For nearly two decades, the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, and the Nissan Altima have been slugging it out atop the mid-size car segment. After so many years of close combat, it's only natural that the feud has spilled over into a new arena -- tall wagons.
Nissan was to the first to explore this territory in 2003, when it essentially added a tall body and a lifted suspension to the Altima platform and christened it the Murano. It's been so successful over the past seven years that one has to wonder why it took so long for the other two big Japanese carmakers to follow suit. Well, they're here. The Murano, redesigned for 2009, now faces high-roofed versions of the Accord and Camry in the form of the Honda Accord Crosstour and the Toyota Venza.
Like their sedan progenitors, these three light crossovers match up very closely, each seating five people and powering the front or all four wheels with a 3.5-liter V-6 (the Venza can be also be fitted with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder). However, the vehicles do differ quite significantly in shape and purpose, ranging in character from traditional crossover (Murano) to luxurious large hatchback (Crosstour). We gathered well-equipped versions of each vehicle to see which mutant mid-sizer best fulfills the needs of this fledgling segment.