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Honda Element



  • I've searched this site, but can't seem to get much of a consensus on the durability of the plastic body panels. For those of you who've owned your Elements for awhile, are you experiencing problems with surface scratching, or panel rattling/breaking/detaching? Anyone waxed their paint and gotten wax on the plastic? Does it come off? How have the interior panels held up? Any other frustrations or gripes? TIA
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Some synthetic polishes do not stain plastic trim, stick with one of those.

  • elemintelemint Posts: 79
    have read a LOT about the Element over the last year. Here is what i found: Scratched body panel complaints are not uncommon, but seems to be more so on the DX model (dont know why they would use different panels but aparently they do). Never heared of a loose panel or one cracking. waxing is not recomended for the panels, but people have had sucess with "mothers" i think. Interior does scractch somewhat. The main problem that is coming up again and again is the windshild cracking.
  • The local dealer has 4 '03 Element EX AWD Auto trans...exactly what I am looking for. On 3 of them, they have lowered the price down to around $19,700. The demo with the available roof rack is "discounted" to $21K and change.

    I called and asked about the E's with the $19,700 price. The lady, who does business with our company, called me back 2 hours later to inform me that the dealer is "really pushing to get rid of these" and was able to knock the price down $100 to $19,600. Are they serious? Or am I just being cheap?
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I would think that you would have to buy these at the equivalent of 'low mileage' used car pricing. Go to Edmunds TMV for a 2003 Element. There is a $3000 spread between 'trade in' and 'dealer' lot price.

    If you buy an 03 it will instantly depreciate to the trade-in price ( $15 K for an EX auto ).

    Why not shop for an 04 near invoice? Some volume dealers in Boston will sell an 2004 Element for very close to invoice.
  • Why exactly should I care if my side panelling gets scratched? Isn't the reason they put them there to actually protect the body of your car and the paint?
    I have a scratch on my panelling- because a pole had concrete on the bottom extending from it and I didnt see it... that would have screwed up my car if it wasn't a part of the vehicle.
    I read about the windshield complaints on the recall site though it's not a recall.
    The inside can get scratched but that may be less noticable if they used a differentcolor... the ones I see is when the key misses the ignition :) and then the base of my seat as I get in and out of the car.
    Grr.. I know it's not the best but I love my Elephant.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I test drove a 2004 Element EX today, 2WD 5 speed. I thought the vehicle was neat. I like the interior functionality, the easy to use controls and space. The fit and finish was good but VERY plastic. I had hoped for a high touch but it only looked that way. The seat back adjuster was loosely attached in one Element I sat in while fine in the one I test drove.

    The sound system had plenty of oomph but one of my favorite local stations (WBUR public radio) was coming through with a distinct hiss. Overall it sounded like a boom box and not like a good car stereo system.

    I did not like the overall seating position, particularly when driving. The front windshield was very far away and it was very difficult to see out of the car over my left shoulder.

    The ride was very disappointing. There is a lot of bouncing on the undulating roads here in the Boston area. The Element seemed grossly under damped and it was very cold, so the suspension should have been tighter and stiffer than normal. I guess this one of the areas that Honda compromised in a big way.

    Road noise wasn't bad, but there was a rattle somewhere above the seat belt attachment point behind me. It clicked every time we went up or down or over something.

    I was pretty psyched for this vehicle and had already negotiated a great price over the web with the dealership. But alas, I have to pass.

    Too many major problems for me.
  • elemintelemint Posts: 79
    Too many major problems??? What do you consider minor problems?? The extream cold makes a huge difference to an cars ride.

    Hey tidester. I see you posted a link. My post got banned because of a helpful link. Hmm...
  • Footie,
    I think you're being way too picky on a 21K vehicle. This is not a Lexus or BMW.

    I've had my 5spd, 4wd, EX for 8 months now (6800 miles) and have had none of the issues you describe. The only maint has been a single oil change. My E is awesome in the snow and lots of fun in all conditions.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    thanks, I wish I felt the same way!

    I couldn't believe how it bounced along, like a conestoga wagon. It felt very underdamped and in cold weather should have felt just the opposite.

    I couldn't imagine what a buggy ride this must feel like in the summer and scared the heck out of me.

    The over shoulder view was also awful.
  • elemintelemint Posts: 79
    you are the first one that i have heard that had a bad test drive. Everyone that i have read had people supprised how good the ride was. Are you a former lexus driver? I do not have a lot of time behind the wheel of the element but it is the car i have been waiting for for 20 years!!! I find cars to be boring and non-functional. Final someone had the vision and guts to go out on a limb and make a truly functional vehicle!!!! Now just get a darn 4,5, or 6 cylinder diesel in it and increase the payload!!!
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I see you posted a link. My post got banned because of a helpful link. Hmm...

    I posted a link to an web page.

    However, promoting, linking to or encouraging others to visit other auto sites that provide message boards, forums or chats are not permitted by our Terms of Use. Please read your mail more carefully in the future and submit any questions you may have about Town Hall policy to one of the hosts via email rather than posting them on the message boards.

    tidester, host
  • meinradmeinrad Posts: 820
    It certainly is a difference of opinion. Roads around here are getting pretty bad and I've found the E to be great. Mine doesn't bounce at all and is really pretty tight. I think for it's type of vehicle it has the perfect balance of handling and ride quality.

    But to each his own.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Maybe it's just me.

    The car I am looking to replace is an ageing Mercury Sable LS wagon that we use as the 'dumpmobile' and 'soccer car'. It has 86K on it and shocks were replaced about a year ago. It is a firm, but very controlled ride no bouncing. It doesn't have enough vertical room in it for me to get some of my furniture projects delivered.

    Another family member has a Toyota Avalon XLS which very controlled, no noticeable rebound oscillations like the Element, but much, much smoother.

    I am glad all of you folks are so happy with the Element. What had attracted me to it was many good reviews here.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Keep in mind the tires may have been overinflated. They do that at delivery to prevent flat spotting while cars sit in the lot.

    Air down and I bet the ride would be better, tolerable at least.

    Sable is soft and Avalon is ultra-soft. Those are pretty high standards for cushy rides.

  • I did a test drive and I was in a 2wd auto. I didn't like it too much but I saw the potential.
    the car has the size and durabilty i need but yes it's a $20,000 car. That's great to me.
    I know the sound system isn't the best but that wasn't their selling point. My favorite local radio station has a small hiss and I am looking about remedying that somehow.
    OVER YOUR SHOULDER? vehicles come with blind spots- many of them. You either look through them or find another way around them. I have driven my car for 6 weeks and I use the mirrors and whatever I can see over my shoulder, which isn't much. I can see a car comming up in my mirrors and as soon as it leaves my side i start to see their nose out of my window.
    I have 4wdEX in this icy snowy eastie crapness and WE LOVE IT.
    It's in our budget and is a functional vehicle for the size and make
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    Ride is all in what you are used to and what you want. I was impressed with the ride in the one I test drove on all smooth, paved roads (did have some good sized hills). Since I'm used to pickups and other truck-based SUVs, I found the ride very comfortable (seats were more comfortable than the Tacoma I have). But if I were coming from a car, I might not have been as pleased.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think Element got bigger wheels and tighter springs vs. the CR-V, supposedly it corners flatter.

    Try a CR-V, you may like it better.

  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I appreciate the feedback and suggestions.

    Maybe I'll take another test drive when the weather improves. I'll check the tire pressures before I head out.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Bring a gauge. I bet it's at 40psi. :-)

  • zmanzman Posts: 200
    Interesting. Maybe it's a matter of expectations. I was expecting a jittery, noisy ride in the Element LX (MT) I tested about a month ago. Instead, I got a relatively harmonious performance. It cornered well, the shifting was smooth, and I got used to the sight lines reasonably quickly (I own a NB, so I've learned to deal with odd visibility issues). I admit, however, that I found the gauges small and hard to read and the height of the door panels very annoying.

    I found the ride surprisingly smooth, but maybe I was not being critical enough--I had pretty much ruled out the Element because of its low payload (my family of four alone would overload the thing, forget about the dogs). Therefore I might not have been as focused as I should have been on the negatives.

  • We loved the drive in the Element. Had I not wanted an automatic we probably would have bought one.
  • Had I not wanted an automatic we probably would have bought one. ?????????

    Umm... They have an automatic and a manual!!!!!!!
  • I know that the Element is offered with a manual but since my first child is on the way I decided that my next car should be an automatic. In automatic 4WD form the Element felt a little slow for my driving style. Had I wanted a 5-speed the Element would've been a stronger contender against the 04 Accord EX-L we ended up with.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The only compact SUVs with that level of acceleration in an automatic are the Subaru Forester XT (turbo) and the Saturn Vue Redline (Honda 3.5l V6).

    Interesting that you went with a sedan, though.

  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I am going back to re-test drive the Element that I tried out last week to see if a 2nd pass on a warmer day ( and I'll check the tire pressures) will help the ride.

    Any other suggestions about what to look for, what to enjoy, etc. on the test drive would be much appreciation.

  • and wants to drive fast.... Hmm...
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Footie - If you have any special requirements, bring test equipment. For example, if you plan to use the Element to tote young children, bring a car seat. If you're using it for sports gear, bring it with you.

    Drive the thing in all kinds of places. Make note of the road conditions, parrallel park it, back it into a parking space, check visibility, etc.

    Then buy one. =)
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Elemint - I don't think that's what she meant. Different folks have different standards for acceleration. Sometimes it depends on where they drive (fast on-ramps, long hills, etc.)
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