A Good Engine and Upscale Features Haven’t Been Enough for the Crosstour. Does Honda Have a Solution For ’16?

What changes will make it different?

Let’s be honest: An awful lot needs to change if Honda is going to make a success of this crossover SUV. The model-year 2015 version really doesn’t know what it is or what it wants to be, so a proper identity needs to arrive in model-year ’16. We’re not saying the vehicle is a dud—it’s just that few people can actually work out what it is good for. Crossovers were a natural bridging of the gap between SUVs and sedans, but who really needs a vehicle that falls somewhere between a crossover and a sedan or a wagon? The Japanese auto giant has got to decide at whom this vehicle is aimed.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

Some commentators may find it surprising that there is even going to be a ’16 model in the wake of lackluster sales. However, a major rethink seems to be underway, and if you are one of the few people interested in seeing the results, you really should wait for model-year ’16. And if you don’t like what Honda comes up with, you’ll be able to get a great deal on a run-out ’15 model.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

Quite frankly, no! Although there are very few direct competitors, most seem to have better focus. The Crosstour really should be more of a Honda Accord wagon than whatever it is at the moment, which means models like the Audi Allroad and the Subaru Legacy look to be a better bet.

Will the styling be different?

The manufacturer may use the phrase “redesign” to describe what it is doing, but “complete rethink” would be a more appropriate term. The ’16 model is likely to be much more wagon-like, and the Urban SUV concept that was unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show could offer some styling clues. It isn’t completely out of the question that the model-year ’15 styling will remain in model-year 2016, but that seems pointless given this vehicle’s poor sales.

Any mechanical changes?

The major selling point the Crosstour has over the Accord is that it offers all-wheel-drive. It would make no sense to change this, although there may be a new, more advanced AWD system employed to appeal to buyers who live in cold-weather areas. The major underpinnings of the vehicle are generally pretty good, offering a smooth and comfortable ride. Upgrades need to be made so that it feels more car-like, which means steering and the suspension might be addressed.

Will fuel economy improve?

The V-6 version of the 2015 model with AWD gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which is already better than you can expect from most other six-cylinder wagons that have AWD. Gas mileage is likely to improve a little more with the introduction of more efficient transmissions.

Will it have new features?

Another area that sets the Crosstour apart from the Accord is its more upscale feel in the cabin. The model-year ’15 offering already comes as standard with a moonroof, USB input, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and a good-quality seven-speaker audio system, but some of the items that are currently optional could become standard. Features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, satellite radio and push-button start are often standard these days on vehicles in this sort of price range and could come to the Crosstour, but safety features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning and Honda LaneWatch are likely to remain options.

How will 2016 prices be different?

It would be bold for Honda to jack up prices here. A rearrangement of the specification levels could mask a hidden price rise, but that’s difficult to quantify. Generally, prices should remain about the same. This is, after all, Honda—not Mercedes, BMW or Audi.

When will it come out?

The smart money says this will hit showrooms by late spring or early summer in calendar-year ’15. And we could start seeing concepts at the major auto shows through this fall and winter.

Best competitors

Toyota Venza, VW Jetta sedan, Acura TSX, Subaru Outback, BMW X6

What change would make it better?

While there is plenty of room in front, it is really is lacking in rear headroom and general cargo space. Considering what type of vehicle the Crosstour is trying to be, these are major issues. Styling is another problem. The model-year 2015 version is still based on the old Accord platform, and it isn’t pretty. With so much competition, there’s little place in the market for a vehicle that only its mother could love.

Quick hit

The Crosstour was only launched here in 2010, so it’s probably too soon for Honda to pull the plug on it. That’s why we should expect big things for a new generation. Don’t forget this is the same manufacturer that did an extraordinarily swift overhaul of the Civic when a redesign in 2012 went over like a lead balloon.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]