2008 Honda Element 5-Door 2WD SC (682)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Honda Element 5-Door 2WD SC. I asked Ilona (sig other) why she wanted such an ugly car. “I think they’re cute and I like the look”. OK! And isn’t that the way it should be. If we didn’t have different needs and wants there would still be only one car for everyone – Ford Model A of 100 years ago. Even Communist China has more variety than that.

Ilona was intrigued by the fact that you could open the doors and hose out the interior for simple clean up. Ok, I thought, the inside of her present car was a mess so this might do the trick. I tried not to say too much that would be misinterpreted – know what I mean. If she is happy that makes me happy.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 70%, Japan 20%.

Assembly – East Liberty, Ohio, USA

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey

Pilot, Ridgeline & S2000.

Handling & Performance:

Well, I can’t say I haven’t warmed up to the homely cars that dot our highways. But Scion trips over the edge however. Back to the Element and how it handles. I like it. The Crest Test continues to be impressive in the Element because of its lower center of gravity that helps it hug the highway better than other conventional SUV’s.

Element was never intended to be a high performance car but it is anything but slow, and the acceleration is smooth and steady. I really found the car enjoyable to drive and a refreshingly different Sport Ute.

Styling:

Although they have added carpets it was in large part the simplicity of the rubber floors and wide opening doors that attracted Ilona to the Element. With an aging mom who has difficulty climbing up into other SUV’s this still has the major attributes of the class while giving you all the other strong points of the Mini Van.

I rather like the contrasting cladding that makes the Element even more distinctive and the theatre rear seating makes for great visibility of the road in front for those back seat drivers. The rear is also unusually roomy for the tallest of passengers and it is outstanding for 4 large adults. I think, however, I would have moved the rear seats up just a bit and given a little more cargo area.

Fit and Finish:

I don’t believe it was designed for tight fitting seams but it works for this economically priced utility. In other words it is not as refined as other SUVs intentionally.

Cost:

Well priced.

Conveniences and comfort:

Wide opening clamshell doors front and rear. Without center posts on the side doors you get unobstructed entry, which is especially handy for older folks or handicapped passengers.

Consumer Recommendation:

I have to tell you I was mildly surprised on the first attempt at testing this vehicle when I was met with a dead battery from an electrical problem, and the second try found a delay because of a radio failure. So much for myths of Japanese superiority. In this global community it is painfully apparent we’re all the same after all. We are human and subject to error equally. American car makers early on made lemons an art form in cars. But the whole industry is a study in change and part of the great experiment we all endure and most enjoy.

I never keep a car very long, but then I don’t change wives like some so it balances out. But in this car world I’m not so sure I wouldn’t keep my present car, and save my money for a “Fuel Cell Hydrogen” car likely to be available in 5 years. That will be a real significant change in our personal transportation. Everything else today is a choice between relatively homogenous capable transportation with no real flair for difference. That’s where Ilona has me… at least she bought something as different as you can find in today’s world. But then I should have expected that… men look to the hottest muscle car they can find, buy a suit that is like every other man, while women can’t be seen at a party in the same dress – shudder the thought.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Element $19-24,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000, Ford Escape $19-26,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $26-28,000, Scion xB $15,650, Pontiac Torrent $23-29,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Subaru Forester $21-28,000, Hyundai Tucson $17-25,000, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000, Jeep Liberty $20-26,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000.

Good News:

Roomy, different, capable and fun to drive.

Bad News:

Disappointing fuel numbers, Ug-leee to many (ok – looks aren’t everything. It has a great personality).

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 166 hp 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual trans, 4-wheel power assist ABS disc brakes, electronic brake distribution, rear double wishbone suspension, drive by wire throttle, variable assist rack and pinion power steering, front & rear stabilizer bars, front and side airbags and side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, tire pressure monitoring system, remote entry, immobilizer theft deterrent, latch system for child seats, audio with MP3/wma playback, steering wheel audio controls, XM satellite radio (3 months fee included), air conditioning, removable flip up rear seats with 50/50 split, power windows and locks, adjustable steering column, cargo tie downs, 12 V outlets, cruise control, 18” alloy wheels, halogen headlights, intermittent front and rear wiper washers, rear privacy glass, power door mirrors, side cargo doors, clamshell tailgate.

Gas Stats:

$3.20/ Gal avg. December 21, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

Not rated by EPA but my experience was

18 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $18,980.

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