Complaints: The Element has lots of flat glass, which is great for keeping things structurally simple but lousy for limiting distracting glare and reflections from passing vehicles.
Praise:Overall, an excellent rework of the SUV concept. Brilliant, in fact. I really like this one.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Very smooth ride. The Element handles bumps and grooves well. Amazingly stable in calm winds. Excellent acceleration. Changes lanes easily.
Head-turning quotient: The Element is bulldog ugly. But people love bulldogs. Based on street reaction, they also seem to love the Element.
Engine/transmissions: The Element is equipped with Honda's new 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine. It develops 160 horsepower at 5,500 revolutions per minute and 161 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm. It can be mated to a standard five-speed manual or an optional electronically controlled automatic transmission.
Capacities: Seats four people. Cargo capacity is 25.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 74.6 cubic feet with the rear seats down. The Element can be equipped to tow up to 1,500 pounds. Fuel capacity is 15.9 gallons. It uses regular unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: I averaged 22 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving.
Safety: I can vouch for this. I got clipped (lower right bumper area) at an intersection at an estimated closing speed of 6 mph. No air-bag deployment. Minor damage to the Element. No damage to the subcompact car that slid under the Element's bumper. Use of that bendable composite lower-body cladding is a good idea. The Element is equipped with dual-stage front air bags, front side air bags and side-impact door beams. There also are lower anchors and tethers to properly secure child safety seats.
Price: The Element goes on sale Dec. 19. Preliminary prices will range from $16,100 to $20,850.
Purse-strings note: It's a buy. The Element moves to first place on my crossover/SUV list. Advantage Honda.