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Honda Element



  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    What sort of "real SUV function" are we talking about?

    A lift kit will get you greater ground clearance, but, without suspension upgrades, it won't have any more articulation. And there's no way to lift a vehicle without raising the center of gravity... and handling will suffer with the resulting changes in geometry.

    I'm with Juice on this one. If you want clearance to get over a few rocks, through deeper snow, or something along those lines, get a CR-V. If you want "real SUV functionality", get a Jeep.
  • Actually just getting it from dragging bottom over moderate sized rocks. No serious off-roading, just getting to"soft" campsites. We have an old Grand Cherokee for serious off-roading. I like the CRV, but the cargo area and "box" size of the Element makes me think I could possibly haul a 4-wheel ATV in it.

    Thanks for the responses!
  • Im getting ready to order an Element and find myself vacillating between transmission choices. Ive always driven standard but Im getting near 60 yrs and maybe its time to take it easy? The main reason the Element appeals to me is that Ill be able to fit a 9ft + long surfboard inside. Any thoughts out there on best trans ?
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    We've had a 2004 EX Manual with front wheel drive for over a year. It's only ok because the the FWD doesn't have any kind of traction control. Our Element came shod in some tires that don't help either, the Goodyear Wranglers. They are ranked 41st in their category at a well-know tire web site.

    Nine foot surfboard? I have a hard time getting an 8 foot 2 x 4 in our Element.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    You're going to keep surfing, but you don't want to overtax yourself by rowing gears? :D

    I happen to think manual clutches are the best way to get power from an engine to the driveshaft, but that's because I'm a control freak and I actually enjoy shifting. besides the sporty location of the shifter in an Element makes it even more fun.
  • gearhead1gearhead1 Posts: 408
    "The main reason the Element appeals to me is that Ill be able to fit a 9ft + long surfboard inside. Any thoughts out there on best trans ?"

    I'm not sure I believe this poster is real, but I did laugh. 60 yrs old, and to old to shift, but not too old to ride the big one.

    The Element is one of the funnest and sportiest manual transmissions to drive. It feels like a ralley car. I drove the EX AWD, and I was very impressed. VERY FUN. Honda says their goal is to make sure all their cars drive like sports cars and are fun to drive, and they certainly succeeded with the Element. The Element embodies the word "FUN", and age 60 is no time to start decreasing your fun with a stodgy automatic. I still can't believe they made a refrigerator on wheels drive that well. I finally bought a Ridgeline but, that's another story.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    their goal is to make sure all their cars drive like sports cars

    That may be overstating it just a tad...they tend more towards the practical side if you ask me.

  • Haikunalu....the 5 spd is smooth. Improves performance significantly in this car but in contrast to most cars, the stick is LESS fuel efficient than the auto by 1 mpg. ( different gear ratios). Having said that, I'd go back and get the automatic but then I live in LA and drive through lots of traffic.

    Surfboards...a 9 ft longboard will fit inside. I think it could be a little longer but not much.

    Whatever trans you get, go for the AWD. Especially if you want the 5spd. The car is torquey and the combo of 5spd and front drive is squirrely.
  • Hey has anyone fit an air mattress in their element for car camping over the seats in all folded down position? If so, what size fits? It would be nice to find one that inflates off of the cigarette lighter power plug.

    thanks for any info
  • linkmen,
    I just purchased an 05 AWD EX. On my initial test drive before purchasing the Element I tested a 2WD. It drove fine. The next day when I went to purchase the vehicle I changed my mind and went for the AWD. As soon as I left the lot I felt the drag when you lift off the throttle. I called the dealer as soon as I arrived home and it's scheduled to be looked at. Having my own repair shop years ago and being a certified mechanic then tells me the converter is not freewheeling when you let off the throttle. It stays locked up. This I believe will definetly effect the fuel mileage because you have to stay on the gas longer before you have to back off or the vehicle will slow down to rapidly. The Elements trans and engine are braking the car considerably. My other vehicles, 98 Tahoe and 05 Equinox do not act that way. I can coast to a light without having to use more fuel to get there. I will let you know what they say next week. I believe or think that the engine might be revving to high at 60 mph for it to return to an idle and then get back up to speed smoothly. My Tahoe is only at 1300 rpm at 60. The Element is 3000. That might be why.
    Keep in touch.
  • lumbarlumbar Posts: 421
    I looked into this and a full size air mattress (Target)--not queen-- will fit tightly--although there may be some slight variation in the width of various brands. It needs to be raised above the height of the rear "compartments" so that the top of the mattress is about level with the window. There are also a couple of designs out there for "frames" that are pretty easy to make that can be used with the rear seats out and that allow for stuff to be stored underneath the frame--depending on how much stuff you have.
  • dslightamdslightam Posts: 12
    We really want to buy an Element for many reasons, but I keep backing down because I can't get over the stated load capacity of 675lbs. I apologize for bringing this up again, but I'm really hoping someone has access to some info that I don't. I have read the earlier posts and learned some things online about load capacity, but I haven't found anything very reassuring. Do they have a support line for Element owners?

    Not being a truck guy, I've read things online that say you won't just affect mpg and performance by overloading, you could seriously damage your vehicle if you exceed capacity. I weigh 205lbs, she weighs 110, the doggie weighs 50-somthing lbs. If we bring 2 big friends along we are already at capacity if not over. Sorry no gear hauling for you! Yes, most of the time I don't have friends, but SOMETIMES I DO... I swear! Heck, we go on ski trips 4 hours away at least once a year. I am envisioning conversations: "Sorry, we can't bring you. Yeah we have yards of room but if you come my new car's axle might buckle... you fatty" I'm really surprised they could get away with designing the Element as it is, yet you can't haul 4 average joes in it and their gear. A 2wd manual is slightly lighter but...

    Dealers seem to know less then I do about it. They usually say the load capacity is 1500lbs until you explain to them over and over that no, that is actually the towing capacity. It's marked on the door.

    Does anyone have any insight?

  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    If you need the to carry the weight, then it isn't the right vehicle.
    Honda would have raised the weight limit if it were safe since I'm sure they are aware that it looks bad.
    Imagine how slow it would be trying to accelerate up a mountain while loaded with 4 big guys anyway.
  • gearhead1gearhead1 Posts: 408
    If there is 4 people in the Element, there isn't that much room in the back of the back seat anyway. Have you seen it in person. I'm sure you would be fine.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree, to carry 4 adults and a big dog I'd opt for a bigger vehicle to begin with. Element is a compact.

    CR-V is bigger and has more payload.

  • lumbarlumbar Posts: 421
    I'd agree with the comments above that, if you consistently need to carry more than 675 lbs. this probably isn't the right vehicle. There are reports of people adding a couple of hundred pounds to this successfully and, although this probably shouldn't be endorsed, I do suspect that 675 is at the low end of the capability, as the 1500 lb. towing capacity may be. IMO, the interior limit and roof load limit are the achilles' heals of this very useful vehicle considering it's likely intended uses.

    And while Honda didn't ask me, I'd suggest to them that they need to tone down their advertising if liability is their main concern. The brochure for the 2005 Element prominently features a group of people and their gear who clearly have gone camping in the Element, something that implies usefulness for that purpose (and higher weight) despite any load limitation in the fine print.
  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    Camping gear is normally very light, so 4 slim or short people and their camping gear on the roof could certainly work.
    On the other hand, 4 big, heavy guys and a dog driving up a mountain to go on ski trips wouldn't work.
    Of course, the Element would still drive while overloaded since there is nothing stopping that, so it technically could be done.
  • dslightamdslightam Posts: 12
    Thank you for all the replies, I appreciate everyone's perspective. The CR-V/Element comparison frustrates me a lot. On paper, the CR-V is a great car, no question about it, and I may end up buying one yet. It's funny though because I exemplify the demographic that Honda was going for with the marketing of the Element (in the '05 brochure and all), and for the most part I'm buying into it. I like to snowboard, surf, Mtn. Bike, road-trip, and camp. I want decent gas mileage, utility, and versitility. On the element, I really like the doors, rear-gate, and particularily the floors, even that aux. jack thingy they tease you with on the EX. It's nice that we could could sleep in it in a pinch ( probably with the back seats out). The carpet floors wouldn't get permanently stained or muddy like the CR-V would. If I ever resold a CR-V it's unlikely the carpet would ever be in good shape.

    90% of the time I drive this car it will be my wife, my dog, and me. The chances of two more guys my size in the car are slim, but not out of the question. At least two or three times a year, I may want to have our friends (we'll call them Matt and Kathy) come with us to the mountain 4 hours away, or the coast to camp (in tents). We may put skis and snowboards on the car, and clothes/boots/goggles in the back. If I do my math correctly then approximately every pound of gear we add will be a pound over the weight limit. After spending 20k on a new Element I'd keep remembering that my old 2 door '91 integra would not have that problem. I don't really care about accelleration that much, nor fuel economy under those conditions. I do care about doing damage to my new vehicle.

    Will that 10% damage my Element? If Honda could tell me definatively one way or the other it would make up my mind. Maybe I just need to start hanging out with smaller people! :)

    Also, does anyone know if they're doing a refresh on the Element in '06?
  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    Do you really need to plan your vehicle around only 2 or three trips you "might" take in a year with your friends if it's perfect the other 362 days of the year?
    You could buy an Element and rent a bigger vehicle twice a year if you really needed to or even take two vehicles or ride in someone else's vehicle.
    If you needed to do this frequently, it would be different.
    For instance, families who need to access the rear seats and load and unload rear passengers frequently should look elsewhere instead of struggling and fighting with the suicide doors.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "I don't really care about accelleration that much, nor fuel economy under those conditions. I do care about doing damage to my new vehicle."

    I doubt very much you'd damage the vehicle by going over the published weight limit. You won't break the suspension, or the load floor, or anything else. However, the Element might not corner as well, it might not brake as well, it might not do as well in a crash. I think it's far more likely those are the reasons for the low rating. Honda won't take legal responsibility for the vehicle when loaded that way.
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