Why The Honda Crossroad Was A Bizarre Badge-Engineering Idea

Much like all the other Japanese car brands, Honda is a nameplate that is synonymous with terms like reliability and value engineering. For several years, Honda has been making some of the most affordable and robust family cars, which have become popular among many first-time car buyers.


However, in one of the occasions of surprising its fans, Honda tried to go the other way around by offering a complex and unreliable vehicle to ‘discover’ a new territory – SUVs. We are talking about the Honda Crossroad, which was a fruit of an odd marriage between the Japanese automaker and a heritage-rich British brand – Land Rover.

The Crossroad was far from the traditional virtues of Honda – it was huge, gas-guzzling, and mechanically unreliable at times. After all, it was a Land Rover in its roots. It took no time for people to realize that the Honda Crossroad was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Crossroad never put the sales charts on fire in Japan and ended up being one of the disappointments for Honda as a car brand.

Related: The FN2 Civic Type R Is Unloved, But Here’s Why We Think It Deserves A Lot More Respect


Reason Why Honda Joined Hands With Rover For The Crossroad

Until the ‘90s, Honda only had expertise in making compact hatchbacks, coupes, and sedans for the common masses. However, it was also the time, when the world had started accepting SUVs in more numbers than ever before.

Adding to it, Honda was already late to the party of SUVs when all of its rivals at its home, like Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, had started rolling out SUVs in the ‘80s. At that time, Honda had no genuine SUV in its lineup, and it also understood that developing one might take a long time and funds for which it was not ready.

Honda already had entered a partnership with the UK’s Rover Group in 1980, a result of which was the unsuccessful run of the Sterling, a re-badged version of the Acura Legend, in the US. Even the Honda Domani from Japan was sold in the UK as Rover 45 with minor tweaks to its design.

To cash on the rising popularity of the SUVs, Honda decided to borrow the Land Rover Discovery Series-I from the Rover Group and re-badge it as its SUV, which eventually got the name ‘Crossroad’.

The Half-A-Decade Stint Of Honda Crossroad

After finalizing the deal with the Rover Group, Honda introduced the Crossroad in Japan in 1993 as its first-ever SUV. However, people were quick enough to see that the Honda Crossroad is nothing but a rebadged Land Rover Discovery Series-I with Honda badges slapped on the exterior and interior.

In the ’90s, Honda explored new opportunities for badge-engineering with Isuzu in the US, re-badging the Isuzu Rodeo as Honda Passport and Isuzu Trooper as Acura SLX. However, back in Japan, the Crossroad continued to be Honda’s sole SUV offering for five years between 1993 and 1998.

The Honda Crossroad was based on the pre-facelifted model of the first-generation Land Rover Discovery, also known as Series-I Discovery. On the outside, the only changes introduced in the Crossroad over the Discovery were the Honda badges in place of Land Rover logos on the front grille and over the license plate housing at the back.

On the inside, the Land Rover badges on the steering wheel and other places were swapped with the Honda badges. These were the only changes that made the Honda Crossroad look ‘different’ from the Land Rover Discovery Series-I.

There were no changes under the hood of the Honda Crossroad when compared to the Discovery Series-I. This first-ever SUV from Honda was available in Japan with a gasoline-powered 3.9-liter V8 engine from the Discovery Series-I, which made the Crossroad the first and only Honda passenger vehicle till now to get a V8 engine.

This engine claimed 182 hp of power output, which was not a significant amount of power from a V8 engine, considering that the much-smaller 1.8-liter gasoline engine from the Honda Integra Type-R made 168 hp at that time.

Related: The 1988 Honda Prelude Is The Cheap JDM Legend You Need In Your Collection

Problems Leading To The End Of Honda Crossroad

Apart from all the issues surrounding the Honda Crossroad, the partnership between Honda and Rover group also started facing troubles in the ‘90s. Honda was against raising its stake in its partnership with the Rover Group, and the eventual buyout of the Rover Group by BMW in 1994 further soured the partnership.

Honda decided to call off its partnership with the Rover Group in 1994 after it went into new hands, though it continued to sell the Crossroad in Japan till 1998. After the Series-I Discovery was discontinued in 1998, Honda also decided to pull down the curtains on the production of Crossroad, thus marking the end of the fate of a bizarre Anglo-Japanese partnership between the Rover Group and Honda.

Sources: Honda Japan, Land Rover

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *