Honda hopes to pump some new life into one of its most troubled product lines with a modest but much-needed update for 2013.
No longer linked to the maker’s mainstay Accord, Honda officials are hoping to see sales double for the 2013 Crosstour. Of course, that starts off a low base. While the maker presented an assortment of upbeat owner testimonials during the opening of its New York Auto Show preview, the previously named Accord Crosstour simply didn’t connect with the general public.
As with the new RLX flagship introduced in New York by its up-market Acura brand (Click Here), Honda is calling the Crosstour on its stand a “concept,” though as with the Acura model, the Honda Crosstour show car “is very close to the product we’ll be bringing out this fall,” said Sage Marie. The executive was a product planner on the program but recently shifted assignments and is now head of Honda public relations.
The immediate goal, Marie added, was to make some critical, if modest “changes to styling we think will put (Crosstour) more clearly on the mid-CUV shopper’s radar.”
The original version was neither fish nor fowl, according to critics, neither appealing to crossover fans nor those who preferred a conventional sedan. While many automakers have been giving their CUVs more car-like designs – such as the 2013 Buick Enclave remake – Honda has chosen to enhance the Crosstour’s trucky attributes.
The overall goal was to enhance its appearance of height and ground clearance. It now has a higher stance and new truck-style side cladding.
Meanwhile, the maker is also addressing concerns about the original Accord Crosstour’s less-than-stellar fuel economy. One way is with the shift to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Honda has been roundly faulted for its slow migration away from 5-speed transmissions even as rivals move to 6-, 7-, even 9-speed packages.
Company officials wouldn’t provide specific mileage numbers for the 2013 Honda Crosstour, only promising an improvement in the updated model.
They also resisted the usual urge to invite journalists up on the stand and open the door of the new Crosstour. They explained that the concept contains a number of new technologies, such as something called “Lane Watch,” that they want to first introduce on the new Accord sedan and coupe models due to market even before the 2013 Crosstour.
But they did confirm the coupe/crossover update will receive a new rearview camera system. That will help address what Honda’s top-ranking American executive, John Mendel, described as the “biggest issue people had” with the original Crosstour design, poor outward visibility. “We’ll address that with the technologies we’re putting on the car.
The Crosstour has been one among a series of disappointing niche products Honda has launched in recent years, along with models such as the Insight hybrid-electric vehicle. During its first full year on the market, in 2010, sales totaled 29,000, but plunged to just 18,000 last year.
“Personally, my goal is that I’d like to double volume” with the update, Mendel told TheDetroitBureau.com.
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