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Honda Element



  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Here's the Forbes review from last April on the '04 Pilot EX. (I didn't see a newer review).


    Steve, Host
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Get rubber mats, maybe, so you can keep the utility factor.


  • I traded in my 02 Dodge Caravan 3 weeks ago and glad I did! I got the 04 Element and love it! I bought the rubber mats to put in because with winter the way it is here in Minnesota we get a lot of snow and salt in the car and it keeps it from going all over the place. The one thing that bugs me about this car is the fact that the AM stations do not come in. I called the dealership about this and was told that they have gotten a lot of complaints about that not only in the Elements but in the Pilots too. Works out good for me because now I do not have to listen to football games in the car on long car trips! WOO HOO! Other wise I love my Element, I love the fact that there are no carpets to keep clean, with a dog and a kid carpets get too dirty, I love that I can see better out of the windows then I could in the caravan, I love that the stereo rocks! I just wish they could put in a back massager for the drivers and passenger side for those of us who have to take long car rides, ha ha! I wanted the pretty orange color but when I got to the dealership they did not have it in that color and I wanted to take it home that night so I got the Fiji Blue and am glad I did! Have to admit that it is too easy to speed in this car and have to keep an eye on that. Good Job Honda!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's the spirit, looking at things from the positive perspective.


  • gfxguygfxguy Posts: 18
    Congratulations! That's about when I got mine.


    I'm sorry you didn't get the color you wanted; let's face it - the Element is about the only car that can get away that green and that orange color and look good doing it. On the other hand, after a lot of thought, we thought those colors would get tired after a while. Being practical, and living in the south (even though it was a very cold day when I bought it), I went with Silver and am very happy.


    However, that aside (and hey, you're in Minnesota), I think the blue is the best color Element... maybe until the red comes out, but for 04, that blue is just fantastic.


    I haven't had any AM reception problems. On the other hand, I usually listen to my MP3 player now that I have that option! I know it seems like I'm reducing some of the utility, but I also ordered carpets as well as the cargo container (Honda parts, but I ordered them separately from a third party that's a lot cheaper than the dealer).


    I'll tell you this - given the higher center of gravity and that urethane coated floor, things slide all over the place. I got some bungee cords, but will be much happier when the cargo organizer arrives.


    Other complaints... the way the doors open are quite a trade off. I wish my 5 year old understood better that if he stays by me when I open the doors, there's no problem. Otherwise I'm opening the front, opening the back, closing the front, then opening the front, closing the back, closing the front just to get in. Now, I knew that was coming, and it shouldn't be an issue very often (we've been using the Element a lot since it's our new car), and it's been getting better as he learns the routine, but it's still a bit awkward.


    On the other hand... when our daughter rides in the car, I only have to open the one side... she gets in and goes to the right side, and I can fasten her seatbelt by getting in the left side - it's hard to explain, it's just that there's so much room to move around, it actually makes things easier when I'm dealing with both kids.


    Given the bare-bones quality (which I like) and the price, I think this is one of the most worthwhile cars I've purchased. Certainly I loved the Odyssey when I got it, but I didn't feel like it was as worth it as this Element. I really love it so far.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The new Ody can seat 8 in a pinch, so the capacity is potentially double.


    But I digress...


  • I was looking at the other things you can get for the element and noticed that they make a screen that you can put in the sunroom when you take it out and was wondering if anyone else had one of these and if they like it?
  • gfxguygfxguy Posts: 18
    I have an 01 Odyssey, and I like it a lot, but the model has gotten major upgrades very quickly... I guess there's a lot of competition in the minivan market...


    The new Ody's are VERY nice compared to what I have, what with 255HP and all the other nice goodies...


    Still, since I have a family of four (and there will NOT be any additions), the Element makes a much better second car than the Civic it replaced.
  • gfxguygfxguy Posts: 18
    According to H and A accessories: "Not for use when skylight is open and vehicle is in motion."


    Kind of sad, really. But if you "hang" in the back of your Element a lot, then it certainly looks interesting. I'm also sure that a lot of people use it while the vehicle is in motion...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Best thing about the Ody IMHO is VCM, just look at the power and then the mpg figures. Bravo.


  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    In September you complained about wet traction. Have you changed your tires yet, and is it better now?
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    No I haven't changed tires -- I don't know what would really fix the problem it really has which is NO limited slip differential for the FWD version.


    So far in the Boston area this year, we've had a wet sloppy winter. It handles just as bad on ice and snow as it does on plain old wet roads. You have to go very, very lightly on the gas to keep the nose pointed straight.


    I am a few weeks short of having had Stubby for a year and I wouldn't recommned the 5 speed M/T Element to anyone that lives in an area like ours.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I've heard great things about Blizzaks and other modern snow tires, that are much better at freeway speeds than old style snow tires. Consumer Reports speaks highly of modern snow tires, and most user groups report almost as much improvement with snow tires as with true all wheel drive (by true, I mean the kind that runs all four wheels all the times, not primarily the front with the back kicking in only when you have wheelspin on the front).


    In short, I would expect the performance you describe with stock all season tires on sloppy winter roads, but the Element SHOULD handle as well as any other front wheel drive car (which is pretty good) on just rainy roads with all season tires, unless the stock tires are horrible. Forbes magazine even praised the road grip of the Element.


    Besides wanting an Element, I am also curious because we just got a CR-V, which has similar tires. Consumer Reports only complaint on the CR-V handling was weak tire grip, so I have been trying to research tires for these vanlets/new age wagons/cute utes.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I've been researching the Element again (though I'll probably wait until the '06 comes out in hopes of VSC - stability control - and side curtain airbags), and one reviewer complained about the cabin noise due to the uncarpeted floor. (Another reviewer just plain complained about the cabin noise.)


    Anybody installed mats (Honda or otherwise) and noticed a change in cabin noise?


    This issue wouldn't deter me from a purchase, since I view the Element as an alternative to a VW hatchback or Scion xB, that is to say, a funky little vanlet that can hall butt (with a stick shift) one day, and hall camping gear the next.


    But I'm still curious.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I know of a fellow who installed a full carpet kit in his Element. Send me an e-mail and I can direct you to him as well as pics of his rig. (Edmunds does not allow links to other forums.)
  • carglowcarglow Posts: 91
    In 05 they are offering models without body cladding?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I do think that carpet would make the interior quieter, even if just for the extra insulation. But it would also make the vehicle heavier and you'd give up some of the utility.


  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    That's gotta be heavy.


    I don't think you lose utility, because you can take out the entire set up to wash or replace, vs. on a regular car at best you can take out the floor mats.


    I found the stock floors to be slippery to the point of some hazard.
  • baker5baker5 Posts: 7
    I am now in the process of choosing between the Rav4 and the Element. The Rav has phenominal visibility, handles great in the snow(2wd, and gets better gas mileage. The thing about the Element is more of the utility factor and a few other things I like. What worries me are the posts about handling in the rain and snow. I had a Civic which was great in the snow so I don't see how the Element would be much different. Soft plastics are unfortuneately the way of vehicles nowadays. From the "rich looking" interior of my prior VW, my wife's prior PT Cruiser and now her Rav4 all these interiors scratch and chip easy. Interiors just don't seem durable these days but the Elements looked and felt durable when I test drove it which is another factor I like. Even with all my pros and cons I'm having a hard time deciding!!
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Even though I am very disappointed at the 2wd Element's handling in snow or wet weather, picking it over the RAV4 was a no-brainer for me. It's bigger, heavier, more rugged, peppier. I like the utility of the inside space. We've been a Toyota family for years and years and this was our first Honda. Our out the door price for the 04 EX 2wd 5spMT was under 19K in February 04. Nothing else was remotely close. Next time I won't save a few bucks and I'll get AWD/auto, spare wheels with Blizzaks and still have a great deal.
  • baker5baker5 Posts: 7
    I too had the same problem with my VW Golf, the electrical system! I'm afraid that they won't "discover" the problem until the warrenty is up. I said prior vehicle because I really don't drive it that much and will trade it in. Back on topic: I would be curious as to what others had to say about the Elements interior and handling. Footie; I agree that the Element is more of a utility vehicle but three things that bother me. One the visibility didn't seem as good to me over the Rav4 , the Rav definately handles the snow and rain and the Rav has better gas mileage over the Element. On the other hand my business and our dog would probably thank me more for the Element!
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    The Element is looking pretty good as a potential new car for me in '06 (or the fall, if they are released early). I have always been a small car guy, and dreaded larger vehicles, but my wife's CR-V is pretty easy to drive (not too big) with good visibility and a great engine. Thus CR-V has definitely rekindled my interest in the Element, which, to me, is a neater looking car and very appealing for camping. I was pleasantly surprised that with the CR-V we got a consistent (over several tanks) 25 mpg on an interstate ride, since our former PT Cruiser, a car with a lot less passenger and luggage room, could only muster 22 mpg. It makes me hope the Element would be similarly economical, although I have heard complaints from Element owners about disappointing mileage.


    Compared to the CR-V, I like the fact that the Element has passenger car compatible (same height) bumpers, a presumably lower center of gravity (for throwing around curves), and I like it's unconventional styling (a weird blend of a MINI, xB, and H2). What I don't like are as follows:


    The "unfinished" floor, but I think floor mats will solve that. Of course, the seats are also "vinyl" instead of fabric, and I think that IS a good idea in a utility vehicle.


    The lack of FIVE seating positions! This never mattered to me before, but with a baby, you need five seating positions if you want to take another couple to dinner - with only four seating positions, where do you put the baby?


    The SMALL cargo area behind the rear seat. On the CR-V this is HUGE, because the CR-V is a little longer in the body, and the rear seat is a little closer to the front seat. This is a trade off, because on a drive to the mountains, I have no problem placing the packs behind the front seat, the "trunk" is big enough for what we leave behind (out of sight, with a cargo cover, from passers by and bears). On a "road trip," with more personal luggage, I'd rather have a closer back seat (which is occupied only with a baby chair) and more concealed cargo room in the "trunk." I don't think Honda can really address this, since the rear seats are designed to fold up against the sides, and form a bed when folded flat. Once again a trade off. (For us, with a CRV as well, it would be almost a non-issue.)


    Finally, the "Aztek" look of the plastic side panels. On an Element with charcoal gray metallic paint and with charcoal plastic side panels, the combination is great, subtle and not overwhelming. On the other cars, the contrast is disconcerting. Question - why so few charcoal gray Elements? I think Honda is going to have to grapple with the "look," it's almost there but not quite. Obviously it's gotta be different from the CR-V, but why doesn't it look as good, from a distance, as the Scion xB? (My opinion....)
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "This never mattered to me before, but with a baby, you need five seating positions if you want to take another couple to dinner..."


    Take the CR-V?


    I'm sorta going through the same thing. My wife and I starting to consider "baby compatibility" as we look at our 3 year plan. She keeps thinking that both vehicles must be able to accommodate every situation.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,862
    My wife and I starting to consider "baby compatibility" as we look at our 3 year plan.


    Varmint - once you have a baby those 3 year plans go right out the window!!


    You have a CRV and a TL right? The first few months you aren't carting around too much stuff - a couple bags and stroller. At 6 months add the high chair and bouncer for weekend trips till about 12-15 months. Then you'll dump the bouncer for a wagon.


    We got along fine with an Accord and an Escort sedan for the first child. When the second came along we got rid of the Escort and bought the Odyssey although it was about 6 months before we did. The pups present an additional issue for you so you'll have to plan accordingly.


    Good Luck in the car and don't be afraid of babies!!
  • gfxguygfxguy Posts: 18
    I live in Atlanta and we haven't had much rain since I bought the Element last month. We did have some last week, but I was only driving in it once and, frankly, I didn't have a problem with my fwd EX auto. I also believe that a lot of the problems people are having have to do with their tires. Element is pretty new, and most people who bought one early on are only just now replacing tires. I think the stock tires suck.


    I did buy carpet from an online site specializing in Honda and Acura accessories... at just over $100, I think it was really worth it. It's one of those Element bonuses that there is no built in carpet to stain and damage, and the accessory carpet can be replaced so easily... maybe once every five years or so? Don't know... just got.


    Visibility doesn't seem to be an issue with me, I feel like I see more than enough of the road. Even though I do the over-the-shoulder look when changing lanes, I also have the side view mirrors configured correctly (IMO)... that helps in any car...


    Still, I moved to the Element from a Civic, and it seems like I can see a lot of the road without any problems. I never thought for a second that visibility was poor.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    CR-V and TL are plenty practical for one kid. But he's got those greyhounds, too.


  • baker5baker5 Posts: 7
    Who's got a grey? My wife and I have a grey and he's the best son... er..I mean dog! We are thinking of a sister for him and of course an E would be perfect!
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Pleased to meetcha. As the saying goes, greyhounds make fast friends.


    I've already got two. My 1999 CR-V does the job nicely, but the wife and I have kids somewhere in our future plans.


    The E is a perfect dogmobile. Especially for small ones that have manageable crates. But the minute you need to use the back seats for a baby seat AND haul two dogs, it gets cramped. Stick with one hound and one kid and everything is just fine.
  • baker5baker5 Posts: 7
    can't have kids the grey is the next best thing. Pleased ta meet ya too! Trying to convince my wife about the E...well thats a tough one...sigh... Too bad you can't post pics of your grey in the E!! That might convince my wife!
  • I live in Vermont and the road I live on has very sharp turns along with a 16% road grade (Very steep.) I prefer a manual tranny because you can regulate the amount of power transmitted to the wheels. Although unlike you I do have an Element with RT-4wd, I have no problems making it up my road which I have seen Jeeps incapable of climbing at certain times. I test drove a fwd Element and did find it particularly easy to unload the weight off the front wheels on starts. I was originally hesitant about the RT-4WD and the fact that it was not permanently engaged, however upon test driving it in some bad weather it was stable, solid, and seamless in transition. Living in Vermont I should know better but I have been doing well in ice and snow with the original Goodyear HP's which I don't mind at all.


    Just my two cents.
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