• Now called Honda Crosstour; Accord name dropped for 2012
  • 192-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder added alongside V6
  • Fuel efficiency rating of 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway

Honda's uniquely styled Crosstour, a competitor to other wagon-SUV mashups like the Toyota Venza, drops the Accord name for the 2012 model year. This may help differentiate the Crosstour from its sedan sibling in the showroom. But the real upgrade for 2012 will come at the gas pump for buyers who take advantage of the newly available 4-cylinder engine option.

Until now, the only engine available in the Crosstour has been a 3.5-liter V6 delivering power through either all-wheel or front-wheel drive. The new 4-cylinder models will be exclusively front-wheel drive, yielding 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, an increase of 3 mpg and 2 mpg respectively, over the front-wheel drive V6. While a 3 mpg advantage may sound small, it represents a 17% increase in city economy - and up to 55 more miles from each tank of gas.

Of course the trade-off to better fuel-efficiency is less horsepower. The 192-horsepower 4-cylinder engine gives up nearly 80 ponies to the V6. In the Accord sedan, the smaller engine still feels sufficiently powerful, but the Crosstour outweighs the sedan by about 300 pounds. We'll have to wait to get behind the wheel of a 4-cylinder Crosstour to see if it seems sluggish.

Two trim levels, EX and EX-L, are available in 4-cylinder, front-wheel drive configurations. The EX-L gets leather upholstery and optional navigation, but all trim levels have niceties like a moonroof, back-up camera, second row ventilation and 6-disc audio system with seven speakers. An auto-dimming mirror, auto headlights and Bluetooth are also now standard. Two new colors, Twilight Blue Metallic and Basque Red Pearl II, are also available for the 2012 Crosstour.

If the new engine results in a Crosstour that's more efficient but just a bit slower, Honda may have found just the ticket to spur the vehicle's slow sales. However, if the less powerful Crosstour lacks pep, sales may remain lethargic as well.

What it means to you: Honda's unique Crosstour combines the cargo capacity of a wagon with the taller view of an SUV. For the 2012 model year, there are new standard features and a new fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine choice.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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