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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.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They could combine the two to come up with the perfect small SUV.

    I like the unique styling of the Element, and especially the clam shell rear gate and spare tire location. Plus the price.

    From the CR-V, the higher passenger and payload capacity, and better fuel mileage and ground clearance.

    Not sure which doors, I'd want. Maybe 2 conventional doors on the passenger side, and suicide doors on the driver side.

    I'm telling you, combine these features and it would be ideal.

  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,862
    I'd keep remembering that my old 2 door '91 integra would not have that problem. I'm sure you probably overloaded the Integra as well.
  • atlgaxtatlgaxt Posts: 501
    While you have a point about not buying a vehicle around a couple of annual trips that you might or might not take, the whole appeal of the Element is that it offers the utility of a midsized SUV or small van in a more efficient and better driving package. Unfortunately, this promise is undercut by a very low payload. The vehicle offers adequate power. If Honda could increase the payload and ground clearance, then the Element would live up to its promise.
  • lumbarlumbar Posts: 421
    Mmm...I'm not sure I agree entirely. IMO, the appeal of the Element is that it offers some of the utility of a midsized SUV in a package that also has those compromises that its audience can deal with (for the most part). I completely agree that a higher payload and more ground clearance would be nice--provided the rest of the package, including its handling, mpg, and price, stays the same. If they don't, some of the Element's other unique promises fade into the background. Despite Honda's somewhat "aggressive" advertising, I don't think the present Element really promises much that it doesn't deliver, considering its actually shorter than a Civic and doesn't really claim to be a people (as opposed to gear) hauler. It's ground clearance is only slightly more than an inch lower than the CRV--which is a marginal difference in most situations. You can also put hundreds of pounds of stuff into it provided the rear seats are unoccupied, which they likely would be if you had hundreds of pounds of stuff.

    I'm certainly not arguing that this vehicle is everything it could be--few vehicles are--but I guess I think that the more it reaches some type of ideal the likelier that its most endearing qualities--price, handling, size and mileage--will need to be compromised and it will turn into something else that's already available..
  • dslightamdslightam Posts: 12
    I thought maybe that was the case too, but I checked the door of the Integra and its payload is somewhere between 900-960lbs. (I'd go look and see what it is exactly but that'd be all the way in the garage and I'm feeling lazy)

    4 people may be uncomfortable, but its unlikely it'd be overloaded. Maybe even 5!
  • dslightamdslightam Posts: 12
    Very good points. I guess because I've never bought a car that was less then 10 years old before I just expect a new vehicle to be perfect. Most of the time I'll probably choose gear and the dog over people. That'll give me at least 325lbs of leeway. We're doing a 24hr test drive on a Element right now. I'm trying to temper our emotions with rationale, but it's difficult. I even test drove a Forester right before taking the Element home so that maybe it'd give me pause. The Sub is such a better car, but I'll get one of those when I have kids and have to worry more about "highest rated for safety."

    We're going to actually drive it up a mountain today. The only thing the dealer told me was "You're not going to take this to New Mexico or anything, are you?" I said, "Nope." It's funny too because this is not the one we're going to actually buy, if we do. There's a different color (5spd) on the lot that they just got off the truck. It hadn't been through the inspection yet so they had to give us a different one to test. If anyone has any suggestions for the test drive, let me know.

    Some folks mentioned the roof load and roof rack capacity (75lbs) Not being a kayaker (yet), what's the deal with that? Are we better off with a Yakima or Thule rack?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    No, I think that's the load capacity for the roof itself, not just for that specific rack. If you add Yakima cross bars, you'd further reduce the available roof payload rating.

    Forester can carry 150 lbs up there, total.

  • Hey, I need help with the oil change question. According to the owner's manual, the first oil change is 10,000miles. I received a reminder from my dealer for an oil change at 3750miles. I told them what it says in the owner's manual, but was told that the manual is the same one for the whole nation, it differs from state to state. Is there anyone out there who lives in Michigan, could you tell me how often do you change oil, and when was your very first oil change. Thanks.
  • I wouldn't worry about taking 4 people and camping stuff on short trips. But....I am puzzled as to why you would want to pile all that stuff in a vehicle as small as the Element. Remember....only 160 bhp and limited interior room. If it were me, I would invite friends, but only if they brought their own car. If you insist on bringing people along for a 4 hour trip each way, think about a larger vehicle....But remember: Gas is now $2.50 per gallon (give or take). The larger the vehicle, the larger the gas bill. I am seriously looking at the Element, but only for myself (mainly) for hunting trips, and possibly for longer trips with my wife. We also have a Prius for gas-saving.

    I like the Element for its adaptability....I can haul small furniture items after taking out the back seats, then even go on longer trips into the Sierra Nevada mountains. My only problem is trying to choose whether or not the AWD would be worth the almost $1,500 extra. (The EX is what I had in mind.). Good luck in your decision.

  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    Just read the manual and see if your driving habits fall under the catagory of "severe" driving conditions. If so, follow the oil change schedule for that.
    The dealer just sends reminders out blindly for the most frequent schedule and naturally wants more oil change revenue.
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