Sunday, December 13, 2009
The bottom line: The Honda Element remains elemental after eight years in the marketplace, and that's a good thing. It has a stronger engine along with a few new features, such as onboard navigation and satellite radio availability. But nothing has been done to tinker with its reason for being, which is to provide solid, basic wagon transportation in a high-quality vehicle at an affordable price.
Complaints: Driving the Honda Element on a windswept highway can be a chore. Its boxy body seems to catch wind at every angle. And some drivers find visibility poor because of its large pillars.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride and acceleration are decent to good under most circumstances. Handling is good on straight and gently curved roads with mild winds.
Head-turning quotient: With its rubber cladding and boxy body, the Element looks like something charmingly designed by school kid.
Body style/layout: The Element is a compact, entry-level, front-engine crossover utility vehicle built on a car platform. It has four side doors and a horizontally split rear tailgate. It is offered with front-wheel-drive, or all-wheel-drive.
Engine/transmission: The 2010 Honda Element has a standard 2.4-liter, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine that develops 166-horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 161 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is linked to a five-speed automatic.
Capacities: There are seats for four people. Maximum cargo capacity is 75 cubic feet. The Element can be equipped to tow a trailer weighing 1,500 pounds. Fuel capacity is 15.9 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.
Mileage: You get 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway.
Price: The base price of the 2010 Honda Element EX with onboard navigation and all-wheel drive is $25,585. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $23,803. Price as tested is $26,295 including a $710 destination charge. (At this writing, there are no options available on the Element EX with navigation and all-wheel drive.) Dealer's price as tested is $24,513. Prices are sourced from Honda, Edmunds.com and Cars.Com, an affiliate of The Washington Post.