you know when Honda introduced element It could actually be a hit right now. Think about it: light SUVs of all shapes and sizes are very popular. Add in the tiniest bit of off-road credibility and you have a recipe for success.
Based on 2001 Honda Model X Concept â€“ no, not the Model X – The Element was a hit when it first launched in late 2002. Honda beat its original sales projections, but deliveries have dwindled over the years. Ultimately, Honda discontinued the Element in 2011. As far as we’re concerned, the Element was ahead of its time.
Why is the Honda Element a future classic?
With its angular shape and exaggerated wheel arch liner, the Element wore its tough heart on its sleeve. This fun and functional design was supported by an interior that was spacious and super easy to clean. The seats were upholstered in stain-resistant fabric, the floor had a urethane coating so you could hose off any mud, and the rear seat was adjustable, collapsible, and removable. You could totally sleep there on a camping trip.
Of course, the Element is arguably best known for its unique body style, which consisted of two large front doors and a pair of rear-hinged suicide doors. Initially, the front seat belts were attached to the rear doors, making getting in and out of the rear seats a bit difficult, but Honda fixed this issue as part of the Element’s 2007 model year update.
Throughout its existence, Honda only offered the Element with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I4 engine. Originally available with 160 hp, the 2.4-liter engine could be mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission, and front- or all-wheel drive. The 2007 update saw the addition of 6 horsepower for a total of 166, and the four-speed automatic was replaced with a more modern five-speed unit. At the end of its life, only the four-wheel drive EX trim with a manual gearbox was still available.
What is the ideal example of the Honda Element?
When deciding which item to buy, it really comes down to whether you want all-wheel drive or not. If that’s a must – and given the SUV ethos, we can’t blame you – we’d definitely recommend opting for one of the examples with the five-speed manual, as it made the Element more fun to drive and allowed you to really exploit the available power of the small engine.
If you don’t like the extensive plastic outer paneling, you should look out for an EX-P element (top right). Introduced in 2005, the EX-P offered body-colored exterior trims for an additional $500. Honda too sold a range of Dog Friendly Elementsso if you are tired of shopping Subaruthis might be a good idea.
Of course, there’s also the extra cool Element SC (above left), although that throws pretty much any off-road capability out the window. The front-wheel drive-only SC was offered from 2007 to 2010. It had a different front bumper and grille, lowered suspension, 18-inch wheels, unique seat fabric and carpeting. Find one in Root Beer Metallic with the five-speed manual and you’re set.
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Are there good alternatives to the Honda Element?
The element divided the difference between many different vehicle types; you can’t really compare it to a proper off-roader like that Jeep Wranglerand the two-door Ford Explorer Sport was larger and rode a real one truck Chassis. Instead, the Element tended to be lumped in with other upright hatchbacks — things like that Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR, Nissan Cube and Sprout xB.
Would modern interpretations of any of these vehicles play in today’s car market? That is hard to say. But the element certainly seems to have the best chance. For now, though, it’s better to look around for a neat pre-owned example.