This Weirdo Honda Crossover Should Have Been Sold in America
Could this lil' trucklet been a sleeper hit?
Back in the 2000s, it seemed like Japan had a lot of redundant cars, some of them the same size using similar drivetrains, but with completely different styling. For example, Toyota sold multiple types of compact cars in Japan in the mid-’00s, all roughly the same size. First, you had the Caldina, a sexy wagon based on the Corolla. Then you had the Corolla RunX, which was a Corolla hatchback, and the Toyota Will VS, also a Corolla hatchback. Then there was the Toyota Voltz, which was a Pontiac Vibe, which was also basically a Corolla Hatchback. And that’s not including the Corolla Fielder, which was a Corolla Wagon, or any of the other umpteen Corolla variants sold in Japan from ‘03-’10-ish.
Some of these cars would likely not succeed in the U.S, while others seemed like no-brainers and should have been a shoo-in for our market. It’s more than a little grimey that America only got a Corolla sedan and the kind-of-ugly Matrix for such a long time, despite Toyota Japan offering so many other options.
Some Honda products were like that too. Circa 2007, Honda launched a new compact crossover in Japan called the Crossroad. No, I’m not talking about the Crosstour or the weird Land Rover Discovery they slapped a Honda badge on in the early 1990’s, I don’t care about those. I’m referring to the Crossroad you see in the photo here.
Around 10 inches shorter than a contemporary CR-V, the Crossroad directly replaced the first-generation HR-V and was positioned as a crossover-type thing solely sold in the Japanese Market. For further size comparison, it’s roughly the same dimensions as the current HR-V, maybe a hair bit shorter. It looks like a mini 2010 era Pilot.
Because information is scarce, it’s somewhat unclear which chassis Honda used for the Crossroad, but one source says it’s based upon the Civic. Power came from either a 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter four-cylinder i-VTEC engine. It’s hard to figure out which engines those are, but if I had to guess, they’re likely the R18 found in the Honda Civic of that era or the K20 from the JDM CR-V. Power went to the front wheels or to all of them via a five-speed automatic transmission, and Honda was offering its Real-Time Four-Wheel Drive (4WD). Pretty basic stuff, uninteresting but likely economical enough.
Honda was a bit ahead of its time with adventure marketing and billed the Crossroad as an “active life navigator.” The press release basically stated what everybody is currently trying to do with crossovers in 2021, too. The Crossroad was, “an automobile which transcends existing categories by combining the design and functionality of an SUV with the convenient size of a compact car and the 3-row seating and 7-passenger capacity of a minivan,” the release said. That third row looked extremely uncomfortable, though.
They even did a Mugen dress up kit for the thing.
It’s fun to look at, maybe a bit ugly, and I kind of like how it looks on these steel wheels.
It’s compact size would have made it one of the first subcompact crossovers to be sold in the U.S., but Honda opted not to sell it in the U.S. and instead decided to sell the two-row Element.
I don’t know if that was the right decision. The Element was cool, but its weird hinged doors and four-passenger-only seating turned off a lot of buyers when it was still being produced. It would take Honda a bit of time for them to figure out whether or not the Vezel/HR-V would be sold in the US, and in the meantime, Kia was selling out Souls as fast as they could make them. I think a more traditional Honda crossover with forward-hinged doors could have been very welcome in around 2007.
Or I could be wrong. Honda didn’t seem to like selling the Crossroad that much, considering the vehicle only lasted three years before it was canceled. Used Elements are in huge demand, as evidenced by this Bring a Trailer listing. The late aughites brought us Cash 4 Clunkers, and sky-high gas prices. Automakers needed and wanted smaller cars, yet another SUV (even if not that big) wouldn’t have been a good look for Honda.
I think the thing would look dope with a mild lift kit and some big tires.