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Honda Element



  • wheelz4wheelz4 Posts: 569
    With inspiration from some of the innovations happening in the minivan segement (and that market is supposed to be stagnant!?), I'll take a stretched Element with 6 seats (2+2+2) with the two rear pairs folding into the floor. If Honda needs to locate the gas tank under the front seats like the Jazz/Fit, then so be it. Give me back the "B" pillar and fit regular doors (or even sliders) and keep all the "scrubbability" of the current "E" interior. This would be a far more useful vehicle than all the Latitude/Stream, Wish, Grandis etc. etc. mini-minivans out there.
    Wanna build it for me, Honda? Anyone else? (maybe Nissan's upcoming small crossover concept will offer some clues.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I think you're on your own, Wheelz. My suggestion would be to find a 98 Ody and do the interior yourself.
  • The FWD Auto Element is nearly perfect the way it is - just wish the seats were a little more comfortable.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Did you guys see the new JDM Odyssey from the Tokyo Show? Very sleek.

    Odyssey will get bigger, so I think Honda will have a slot in their lineup for a smaller 7 seater.

  • wheelz4wheelz4 Posts: 569
    I like the's just that it's 4 passenger capacity + limo-like back seat & the resultant smaller rear cargo area don't work too well for a family guy. I know the family market wasn't the original intention for the "E" anyway;
    hence the request for an "E"-like vehicle with a bit more passenger/luggage capacity. I'm not talking "maxi-van" here, just a little stretch.
    Keep the standard "E" for singles, empty-nester's etc.
    (& don't suggest the CR-V....I wouldn't want to give up the "E"'s washable interior and superior hatch/tailgate arrangement)
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Juice - I've seen quite a few pictures. In fact, someone took pictures of one while it was in the US for a photo shoot in a California city. I like the front and the interior, but I'm not a big fan of the back.

    Don't expect any real news about the US spec Ody. Honda won't even be showing it's latest unique feature at the autoshows.

    Wheelz - I didn't mean to come across like I was telling you to take a hike. =)

    I just think you're best bet is to find a vehicle that you like and have the interior modified with plastic sheeting. I know one owner who put professional looking carpets in his E. I'm sure you could do a rubber floor in some other vehicle.

    Bone stock is not your only option!
  • wheelz4wheelz4 Posts: 569
    Hey, no offence taken, Varmint!
    Anyway, while modifying an existing vehicle is one solution, don't you think the Element (or Element-type features) are the start of a trend?
    Honda has been pretty successful with what initially appeared to be a fairly risky vehicle for them. Certainly dog owners and couples with young kids love the easy to clean interior. I seem to remember a Chrysler (or was it Nissan) exec saying that in future interiors, the trend would be away from carpeting. I remember raising this issue in the "How to make minivan's more appealing" forum in the Van least as an option, it would be nice if both minivan and suv makers offered an interior with rubberized flooring and neoprene seat covers, for example. If they can offer various cloth and leather options, surely a family or pet-friendly option would be doable as well. Anyway, a new vehicle purchase is a few years off for us yet, so something along the lines I'm looking for may yet materialize.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I heard that they'll be ultra-secretive about the next Odyssey. Should be very interesting.

    The mininvan market has suddenly become hyper-competitive. The Odyssey's magic 3rd row made it a market leader, but they've since fallen behind, check out the things is now lacks vs. competitors:

    * hidden door tracks
    * 2nd row windows that go down
    * AWD option
    * split fold 3rd row
    * disappearing 2nd row
    * stability control
    * side-curtain air bags

    Hard to believe. I helped my cousin buy an Odyssey about a year ago and it was the clear segment leader. Have you seen the DCX vans' new seating? Brilliant.

    I hope this type of "features race" hits the small SUV segment. Wouldn't that be great? If you think about it, they're all basically similar, with a few unique quirks here and there. Element stands out mostly for its styling, for instance. CR-V has the picnic table. Forester and Vue offer performance models.

    But there hasn't been the explosion that has occured in the minivan segment, not even close. This class progresses very slowly in comparison.

    Just my 2 cents' worth.

  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    The Ody was released in 1999. Any vehicle in it's last year of production is falling behind. That's normal market progression.

    I think the Ody's success was more than just seat-related. The engine, doors on both sides, road manners, and value were all part of the package.

    I'd rather not see a feature race in the small SUV segment. All the features in the Sienna bring the price into the $40K range! Mini-suvs used to cost $16-20K, now we've got the RAV4 and Liberty with MSRPs closer to $30K. All these features complicate the manufacturing process, making them more expensive to produce and at greater risk for reliability issues.

    For my part: If you want to offer a luxury or sport vehicle... build a luxury or sport vehicle. Don't fluff up a basic product.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,739
    "I think the Ody's success was more than just seat-related. The engine, doors on both sides, road manners, and value were all part of the package."

    Don't forget that we frustrated Accord owners that wanted a mini-van had to leave the Honda fold before MY99. I wonder how many customers Honda lost because of the lack of a real mini-van? I know conquest sales are a big deal to the mfrs but retaining customers is much easier.

    Back on topic - has anyone had luck painting the cladding?
  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    I gotta say I agree with varmint on this. I'd rather not see a "features race" in the mini-SUV segment. The whole idea of the mini-SUV was to allow buyers in the $15K-$25K price range the ability to get an SUV in the first place. That's why we're all here, isn't it? As varmint says, if you load up the Liberty or the RAV-4 with options, you are closing in on $30K. Might as well step up and get a Murano for that price (standard features abound, even on the base model). Honda already has the Pilot and the CR-V, each of which could be offered with features that are now unique to the Element (washable interior, etc.). Consumers could get the best of both worlds without disturbing the whole persona of the Element.

    As for painting the cladding, well, not sure why you would try in the first place. For starters, you would probably have to repaint the whole car just to get the color to match. Also, since it is plastic, I think you can be reasonably sure that within a couple of years the paint will wear differently than it does on the sheet metal. Something tells me it just wouldn't look quite right. I know there are a lot of people out there that don't like how the cladding looks. Painting it may not be the best solution long term. Perhaps a monotone color scheme could be an option on future models???

    OK, so that was more like 4 cents.
    has updated their web pages to include the 2004.

    I'm curious as to why the
    Facts Sheet doesn't include the new LX trim level.

    However, the
    Element Page has a Javascript pop up which explains the new LX trim level. (i.e. LX is DX plus air cond and stereo systems)
  • wheelz4wheelz4 Posts: 569
    Juice.....come to think of it, isn't there a "Backpack" edition of the Forester in Japan with neoprene seats and a wash or wipeable cargo compartment? I think Nissan's X-Trail is similar in this regard. Sure would be a nice option on any kind of utility vehicle.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    True that, varm, what I'm saying is that the rate of innovation in the minivan segment has really heated up in the last year or so. From 1999 to 2002 not as much happened.

    Prices will settle down after a while. Toyota tends to offer incentives, so I think they built in a little of that. Locally, fitzmall has 18 in stock and 11 of them are under $30k already. That's not much more than the old one cost.

    Pressure like that improves the base product substantially, some times without increasing the price significantly.

    wheelz4: yes, Japan has all kinds of special models. They've had turbos since day one (1998), and now have the Backpack model plus a Crossover Sport model that is lowered and sportier.

    Any how, perhaps Acura could do a version of the CR-V with some innovations. Not everyone wants a vehicle as big as the Pilot/MDX.

    What about the Element? Dunno, what about a stretch LWB version? Or an open SUT type version? Let's see how the Pilot SUT does first, I guess.

  • Well, those of you who live in the northeastern parts of the country, how did your Elements hold up in heavy snow and ice??? Also, any comments on OEM tires and gas mileage would be appreciated.
    I'm probably moving to Minnesota next year and I'm debating a Subaru Impreza TS vs Element. Any thoughts on that comparison???
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Those are two very different vehicles.

    If you like the TS ($16k), I'd strongly suggest you step up to an Outback Sport ($17k street price). It's much better equipped and the price difference is small, under a grand most of the time.

    The OBS is smaller, more of a 5 door hatch than a wagon. It's pretty sporty, 55 series V-rated tires on 16" rims, AWD, ABS, etc.

    Element is a lot bigger, mostly a lot taller, although it only seats 4 it'll haul a lot more cargo. It's fun in a different way, and will draw a lot more attention.

    OBS is more like the Matrix and Protege5. Element kind of doesn't have any peers, some have compared it to the Scion xB, which I think you should also consider. That little wagon has stability control and comes well equipped for $14k.

    Drive 'em and let us know what type of driving feel you prefer, they are IMO substantially different.

  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    ... though I think juice is right - they really are completely different cars. I supppose your decision will come down to what you need/want the car for. If you're just looking for something to get you through harsh Minnesota winters, the Subie might just be your car. That is, of course, if you don't mind the bland styling. My limited experience with the Element's AWD (one day with about 6" or so of snow/slush) is that it is great. I have no complaints at all. Then again, Subaru has proven itself over and over and over again with its AWD or 4WD drivetrains. Unless you go with a truck, you really can't beat Subaru's performance in that aspect.

    I like the "uniqueness" of the Element. People will stop and strike up conversations about the car, which can be fun unless you're holding up traffic. I also like the size and practical nature of the E. Drive em both - I don't think you can go wrong either way.

    Oh, and EPA mpg on the Element is around 21-25, which soulds fairly accurate to me. Highway mileage is a little better than that.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I guess I was thinking that you meant features, as in content. Regardless, I'm still going to fight with you. =)

    The mini-suv segment is probably the least formula-oriented segment in the USA. We've got uni-bodies and body on frame vehicles. We've got I4s competing directly with V6s. We've got hatchback-like vehicles (RAV4 and Vitara). We've got wagon-like vehicles (Forester and Outlander). We've got van-like vehicles (Element and some might count the Aztek).

    In the world of minivans, we have short wheelbase models (112") and long wheelbase models (118-120").

    Minivans have some fancy seating configurations, but so do the small SUVs. Seats can be removed, folded up against the sides, slid fore and aft for cargo or passenger space, folded into beds, and the Hondas even have the minivan pass-through.

    Minivans have creative storage nooks, but so do the small SUVs. There are picnic tables, waterproof wheel wells, folding organizers built into the cargo floor, flat-backed front seats, built-in first aid kits, drink coolers, and revolutionary roof racks.

    There are just as many luxury small SUVs as there are luxury vans. There are more sporty small SUVs than sporty vans. There's even a long wheelbase small SUV with seating for seven.

    Looking at the big picture, I just don't see a lack of innovation in the segment.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I expect nothing less than a good fight from you. :o)

    Let's face it, seating arrangements in most SUVs are downright clumsy compared to vans, which have far better packaging even with AWD.

    Expedition's 3rd row you can't even reach from the back, it's pathetic. That's the only SUV I've tried that has a seat as comfy as the vans. High end models have power fold only because they NEED it, LOL.

    Element is unique, but the folding seat still create blind spots. Removing them is a pain, that doesn't count. The last-place reject minivans do that.

    maybe you should just get a van, juice


    I'd like to see a through-the-road hybrid AWD system. Power the rear wheels with the battery, so no driveshaft is needed down the center. That'll regain some space. Then make the seats fold. Maybe the whole flat floor could be a little higher, I dunno. Maybe look at a runflat option to regain space claimed by the spare. Just some thoughts.


    Look at the Outback Sport this way - Saab will sell a clone of it, with the same 2.5l engine, for $25 grand. That makes the OBS at $17k a crazy bargain.

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