If you've been following the dust-up surrounding Honda's 2010 Accord Crosstour, you might therefore assume that Wednesday's announcement that the company plans to bring over its European-market Accord Tourer may have been motivated in part by early online reaction to the forthcoming five-door crossover. But as we suspected, t'aint necessarily so.
The Accord Tourer will hit U.S. shores later next year branded as the Acura TSX Sport Wagon, and as just about anyone in automotive product planning will tell you, new models aren't conceived that quickly – even if the vehicle in question is just a simple porting-over job from another market. There are emissions and crash-test certification hoops to jump through, suppliers that need to be contracted, dealers that need to be trained and marketing strategies that need to be built.
As spokesman Chuck Schifsky tells Autoblog, "Honda, as you know, is about as fast a reacting a product planning company as there is, but we don't react that quickly!... If our past is any indication, then us announcing the TSX wagon at this point shouldn't have been a surprise – we're notoriously known for bringing out a car and having it arrive in showrooms not long afterwards." Indeed, Schifsky is right – vehicles like the third-generation CR-V were seemingly in dealers within weeks of the public announcement and press launch. That said, Schifsky did admit that the timing of the announcement was moved up slightly for "strategic reasons," but he also said that those reasons had nothing to do with the Crosstour.
We asked Schifsky what the TSX Sport Wagon will look like when it arrives, and he told us that the car will not simply be the same as the European car. He admits he hasn't seen the finished product for himself yet, but he acknowledges that changes will be made to bring the design in-line with Acura's current styling language (read: it will receive a variation of the love/loath shield grille), and equipment levels will change to meet U.S. expectations. Given how much effort and money has been expended developing Acura's new corporate face, he believes it would be "foolish" to bring the Accord Tourer as-is, simply swapping the Honda badge for its Acura counterpart. Says Schifsky, "I would look to the U.S. TSX as an indicator as to what kind of equipment the car will have." Further, he advised us to examine the differences between the European-market Accord sedan and the Tourer bodystyle to look for indicators of what sort of changes the American market wagon will likely receive.
It's too early for Honda to reveal pricing for the 2011 model, but as the current TSX sedan starts at $29,310 and the 2010 Crosstour's price figures to be above a Accord V6 sedan (base price: $26,805), it's likely that there will be significant pricing overlap between the two models. Will there be any cannibalization? The Crosstour should lay claim to superior space and foul-weather capability thanks to its all-wheel drive model, but if the TSX sedan is anything to go on, the Acura will have superior driving dynamics, closer-to mainstream looks and a more desirable badge.
Either way, this one will be fun to watch play out...