With sporty handling and sleek styling, the Mazda 6 is for drivers...
As good as the seats were, they didn't protect us from a sharp jab on some bumps, at both high and low speed. We don't know if it's the price Honda pays for a double-wishbone front suspension or not. We do know that the other 99 percent of the time, the suspension is beautifully firm. The AWD Crosstour handles with precision, if somewhat heavily.
The car moves up and down with bumps, ripples and undulations. The suspension doesn't swallow them, it hugs them. Especially the up bumps; you feel those first. There's no discomfort here, just an awareness of the road's undulations when you're in the saddle. Again, that's where good handling comes in.
The Crosstour handles like the Accord (which is livelier than the Toyota Camry and less edgy than the Nissan Altima), but it's heavier, taller, and less nimble. It corners with precision, thanks to its double-wishbone front and independent multi-link rear suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, and front shock tower bar. The steering is old-school hydraulic-assist, unlike the current Accord, which has switched to electric. A Crosstour stops well, thanks to its ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine makes 192 horsepower at a high-revving 7000 rpm, and 162 pound-feet of torque at 4400. That's a bit more horsepower and a bit less torque than the Nissan and Toyota four-cylinders. With a 5-speed automatic transmission, acceleration is fine.
What we liked most about driving the V6 Crosstour was its power. It zooms seamlessly. Freeway on-ramps inspire confidence. When you put your foot in it, it does everything you need and want it to do. Honda calls the engine Earth Dreams.
The 3.5-liter, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC engine makes 278 horsepower at 6200 rpm, and 252 pound-feet at 4900 rpm. Honda says torque is available over a much wider range with Earth Dreams. The V6 uses variable cylinder management to maximize efficiency, allowing the engine to run on three cylinders when that's all it needs to maintain a speed.
The V6 is somewhat thirsty around town. Honda rates the Crosstour AWD at 19 City/28 Highway mpg, but we got more like 12 in the city (hills but not jackrabbit starts) and 25.4 mpg on the highway at 72 mph. We averaged 22.4 mpg for 405 miles.
The Crosstour AWD uses Honda's fully automatic Real Time 4WD, which sends power to the rear wheels only when there is slippage at the front wheels. It improves control in rain, snow or on unpaved surfaces.
The 6-speed automatic transmission has a Sport mode and paddle shifters. We just don't feel like this is the kind of car where these features add much. Mechanically, they add a lot of capability; it's just that canyon carving isn't the Crosstour's thing.
You don't want to be in Sport mode by accident, which too easily happens because of its position on the lever. You'll feel the lack of upshifting right away, as if you forgot to release the emergency brake. It won't glide to a stop sign, remaining in a lower gear and over-slowing the car.