Moving Around

Accord fans will be happy to know the Crosstour is much the same to drive. The seating position is comparable — I sat back-to-back in the sedan and Crosstour and couldn't tell an appreciable difference — and both cars share the same 3.5-liter V-6. The engine has decent grunt, but around town you may question whether there's really 271 horsepower behind the grille. Acceleration comes smoothly enough, though it feels a few protein shakes shy of Toyota's 3.5-liter Venza and a full training regimen short of the Nissan Murano — really this league's Rocky Balboa.

Pressed hard, the Crosstour musters good highway passing power, though the engine sounds a bit raspy when doing so. At least front-wheel-drive models mask torque steer — where the steering wheel shimmies under hard acceleration — at all speeds.

Honda says the Crosstour's five-speed automatic resists shifting during corners better than the sedan's does. I didn't notice any undue upshifts, and it doles out downshifts with little lag and no gear hunting. In the rush toward responsiveness, however, some of those shifts can feel a bit abrupt.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, and the pedal elicits strong response. Honda tuned the Crosstour's suspension for better comfort versus the sedan — itself on the firmer side of family cars — and the resulting ride should suit most drivers. I drove a Venza with 20-inch wheels back-to-back with a Crosstour wearing 18s, and ride comfort seemed about even. I also didn't notice a marked difference in ride comfort between Crosstours with 17s versus 18s.

The steering wheel transmits a weighty, secure feel on the highway. Quick turns bring about some body roll, but it's no worse than in the Venza. More vexing, particularly for city drivers, will be the Crosstour's turning circle: At 40.2 feet, it's on the wide side. The Venza turns in 39.1 feet; the Subaru Outback does 36.8 feet. Even with its largest available wheels, the Murano crossover tops out at 39.4 feet.

Rather than use the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive from Honda's Acura division, which routes power to individual wheels to enhance handling, the Crosstour has a simpler on-demand all-wheel-drive system that sends power rearward only when the front wheels lose traction. Optional on the EX-L, it adds 183 pounds. I evaluated front- and all-wheel-drive Crosstours, and the extra weight doesn't render a major difference in acceleration.

The EPA-estimated gas mileage is 18/27 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 17/25 mpg with all-wheel drive. Honda's V-6 has a cylinder-deactivation feature to improve mileage, but if fuel efficiency ranks high on your priorities, the Venza and Outback both offer four-cylinder engines that get 3 or 4 mpg better overall. Why doesn't Honda offer a four-cylinder Crosstour? The automaker says the mileage improvements from using the sedan's 2.4-liter four-banger would have been too marginal to justify it. (In the sedan, the difference between the four-cylinder and V-6 amounts to 2 mpg.) EPA Gas Mileage (Combined City/Highway, mpg) Automatic transmissions AWD 2WD Fuel Volkswagen Passat Wagon -- 25 Premium (recommended) Subaru Outback 20 - 24 -- Regular Audi A4 Avant 23 -- Premium (recommended) Toyota Venza 21 - 23 22 - 24 Regular Honda Accord Crosstour 20 21 Regular BMW 328i Sports Wagon 20 21 Premium (required) Nissan Murano 20 20 Premium (recommended) Ford Edge 19 20 Regular Volvo V70/XC70 18 21 Regular Source: EPA data for 2010 models

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