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Honda Element



  • 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.

  • Contribute something newsworthy. Then be totally ignored.
  • Know how you feel, I got no response to my inquiry on another board about dealer pricing.

    Anyway, what is the advantage of buying a 2004 Element EX if 2003 Element EXs are still around and discounted below invoice? The information on the honda site is not clear.

  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Jeffray - The advantage comes when it's time to sell. If you buy a 2003 in December and I buy a 2004 that same week, mine will have a higher resale value despite all else being even.
  • Of course. Let me see if I got the math right. It will cost a bit more today, say $500. If you sell the car in a couple of years, better to get a 2004. I kept our last car 10 years. That is why I am tempted to get a leftover.

    Jeff Ray
  • See discussion about AWD performance during last storm in earlier discussion, circa messages 2837 including picture. I was encouraged by the feedback to go for the 2003 EX AWD.
  • I'm on a company car plan, 2004 will stay eligible for 5 years. 2003 will be elegible for only 4 years. My 1999 CRV is not eligible anymore.
  • wheelz4wheelz4 Posts: 569
    ....think I gotta side with Juice on this one, Varmint (re: Innovations) Most SUV (mini or otherwise) interiors are about as innovative as your basic decades-old station wagon design (with a couple of exceptions). Seats are more or less stationary (ok, a few slide back 'n forth a bit) and the seatbacks fold (or the whole seat folds and tumbles) to accomodate cargo, but that's about it. I think we will see interior innovations creeping into all segements...the big battle (as noted by some higher-ups at Magna and Johnson Controls, for example) will be in vehicle interior design. Honda put a flat floor into the rear of their Civic...hasn't been copied yet, but it does wonders for rear-seat accomodation. Due to intense competition, I don't think you'll see these type of innovations contributing to drastically higher prices...Chrysler has said their new vans will be 15% cheaper than Honda's & Toyota's. And Toyota's Sienna, despite trumping the Odyssey in interior features, for example, is about $2,200 cheaper for their respective base models. Competition and innovation are good things for all of us....hopefully what is happening in minivan's now will creep across the board.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you keep your vehicles for a long time, say, 7 years or more, don't be too concerned about whether it's a 2003 or 2004. 7 years from now the difference in resale will not add up to the difference in new car prices.

    In other words, if you can save a grand or more now, buy the left over 2003. There's also the opportunity cost (or interest) on that money, so you'll be better off taking the better deal now.

    SUV Innovations in the past 3 years:

    * 20" chrome rims
    * more bling-bling
    * huge gaping grilles
    * huge gaping logos
    * faux off roader styling
    * spreewheels, i.e. Spinner rims

    That's about it! :o)

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I drive 'em forever too. The only problem I can see with getting an '03 at this point would be if you got into an accident in the first couple of years of ownership.

    I think there will be a gap in what the insurance company thinks your '03 car is worth vs. a wrecked '04, even if the mileage is the same. Any adjusters out there who could weigh in?

    Steve, Host
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think you can get GAP insurance, to pay for the price of a new replacement if something like that happens.

  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    I see where you're going here, juice, but so-called "gap" insurance only covers the difference if the amount you owe on the car exceeds the amount the car is worth (i.e. you are "upside-down"). It really has nothing to do with the value of the car itself and won't cover the difference in value between an '03 and an '04. While it won't pay for a replacement, it can get you out of the hole so you have an even playing field when you go back for a newer model.

    Unfortunately, in this day and age, so many people overspend on cars and end up way upside down, especially in the first couple year of payments. A car is such a poor "investment" to begin with, it's too bad that dealers will try to shoehorn people into cars they really can't afford. Oh well, another topic for another board.

    Since the MSRP of the '04 Elements is not going up that much, this may not be a real big deal. Steve raises a legitimate point though. I wonder what insurance estimates are based on? If it's a percentage of MSRP, purchasing an '03 now may actually be a benefit since the discounts are so deep. Pay $18,500 for an '03 that's listed over $20K and maybe you've covered the depreciation already.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Juice - Using the same logic, what has been innovated in mini-vans within the past 3 years?

    The "magic seat" was part of the package with the original Ody back before the 1999 redesign. That feature didn't make a big splash because the vehicle didn't gather much attention. Hey, some Ford SUVs have power folding seats.

    The folding second row is about it as far as unique features go. In my mind that pales in comparison with the plethora of new AWD systems, mid-gates, power-sliding roof panels, origami seating configurations, small truck beds, and other features that have been added to SUVs.

    Sorry, back to our regularly scheduled program.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I stand corrected. In that case forget gap insurance for a Honda, which depreciates slowly. Just avoid those zero down specials.

    The pre-99 Odyssey was not a true minivan. It was a great wagon lacking only a V6.

    The Ford SUV's power folding seats are slow and leave gaps for the cargo, plus lift over is way high.

    Mid-gates are on pickups, and actually I think that segment has progressed more than SUV have.

    The minivan segment was losing steam, but they've really picked up to bring back attention, and I'm guessing they'll succeed in at least maintaining segment share.

    Basically I think you'll find one or two innovations in any given SUV, but I can name about half a dozen on one of the better minivans.

    OK, I'll give the Element 3: suicide style doors, removeable seats (inconvenient, but still enough to mention), and water-resistant interior. Even then the latter two could be made even better.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 2008 Honda Element will have fold away rear seats and a true hose-out interior.

    My fearless prediction.

  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    Right on, juice ... I'll add one more thing for the wish list: By '08, I would think more and more cars will be offered with a gas/electric hybrid option. Motor Trend surprised many (including myself) by naming the Prius as car of the year. If Honda can find a way to do it as a relatively inexpensive option on the Element, these things would sell like hotcakes.

    And yes, a "true" hose-out interior would be nice. My dealer specifically told me not to, not only because there's no drain, but also because the subwoofer is right on the floor and it's not exactly waterproof. All the electrical wires are apparently right under the floor also, so any small crack in the floor could be not so good.

    I'd also like to see one small modification to the clamshell tailgate: Do whatever the GM engineers did with the tailgate on the new Envoy. Now that's innovative. Love how it can fold down like a standard tailgate or swing open like a CR-V.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wagons did that decades ago, but yeah, it's versatile.

    Hybrid: how could I even forget that? I drove the Prius and it impressed the *heck* out of me. Not many cars do that.

  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    When you talk about "decades ago," all I can think about is 20+ years ago when my only mode of transportation at the time was my bike or my legs. The only innovations I cared about were which baseball cards lasted the longest in the spokes! Ah, the simple life ...
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "The pre-99 Odyssey was not a true minivan. It was a great wagon lacking only a V6."

    That's entirely your opinion. And it's not much different than all the people who consider the Forester a wagon rather than an SUV.

    "The Ford SUV's power folding seats are slow and leave gaps for the cargo, plus lift over is way high."

    By today's standards, the Ody's folding third row is a poor design. But it's still credited as an innovation. The quality of the design is not the issue.

    "Mid-gates are on pickups."

    Full-size Envoy. It's got a power midgate that seals off the back and a retracting roof over the cargo area. In fact, the Model X concept vehicle had similar roof design (without the midgate). The production model just got the rear sunroof. FWIW, most of those "pick-ups" are SUVs with a bed. Ford's Sport Track is a good example.

    The only new innovation unique to the current minivan crop is the fold flat second row. I can't think of anything else that is unique to vans. Even that is just a variation on the folding seats found in every SUV.

    Vans are getting better. No doubt about that. But not as a direct result of new features and innovations. AWD, big engines, luxury content, stability control, and DVD systems are neither new nor unique to vans. At most, they are just reapplying existing features from other vehicles. SUVs are doing the same, just as quickly.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Croxe - Growing up, my family had a wagon with a gate that slid down through the bumper and under the car. Pretty sure that was the Bel Aire.

    My wish list for the Element includes that removeable roof panel I mentioned above. This would require a glass panel that raises and lowers from the tailgate. Also the tailgate should fold down (as it does now), but then slide under the cargo floor like a drawer. Just to get it out of the way when loading/unloading cargo.
  • I was at a Toyota dealer and I told the sales guy that I was also looking at the Element. He said that since the majority of people do not find the E attractive, this will hurt the resale value.

    Think there could be any truth to that?
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