Can a new name and a few added features salvage one of Honda’s slowest-selling models? Apparently, the Japanese maker is hoping so as it transforms last year’s Accord Crosstour into just the Honda Crosstour for 2011.
Even normally upbeat Honda executives, including top American John Mendel, openly acknowledge the quirky crossover hasn’t set the market afire. Honda sold just 1,477 last month, a 35% decline, with sales barely 11,500 for the full year. And lest anyone slough that off as a result of the Japanese product shortages, the Crosstour has been falling well short of expectations from the day it was launched.
Clearly influenced by the sports car/crossover design theme that first appeared with the BMW X6, Honda actually launched two models, the Accord Crosstour for its mainstream brand and the even more slow-selling Acura ZDX, which found only 102 buyers last month.
Honda originally thought that attaching the Accord badge would help build demand for Crosstour but, if anything, analysts say it may have been a drag on Accord.
Some observers thought the crossover would vanish entirely from the line up but Honda is apparently convinced it needs to give one more try for the Crosstour. So, for 2012 it not only gets a new name but an assortment of newly standard features, including Bluetooth hands-free calling, auto on/off headlights, a rearview camera and a USB audio interface. Higher-end versions get projector headlamps and other features.
Under the hood, no changes. The 3.5-liter i-VTEC engine is carried over, and the basic numbers stay the same: 271 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque. The 2WD version delivers 18 mpg City/27 Highway. The 4WD powertrain loses one mpg on the freeway.
Whether these changes will make much of a difference for the boxy hatchback remains to be seen but industry observers remain skeptical and are betting that if sales of the newly rechristened Honda Crosstour don’t do better, 2012 might be its last gasp.
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