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2009 Honda Element

Overview
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2009 Honda Element Review

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Honda designed the Element to appeal to young male buyers. The original concept, in fact, was touted as a "rolling dorm room," designed to appeal to those with active lifestyles and a limited budget. Much to everyone's surprise, the Element not only hit its target audience, it picked up a number of unexpected buyers ranging from single moms to retired couples and everyone in between. The 2009 Honda Element is attractive to these folks for a number of reasons. It's economically-sized yet large-cargo friendly, and the rear seats can be folded flat to create a two-person bed. The Element also gets reasonably good gas mileage, even when equipped with the optional four-wheel-drive system.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you love traveling the great outdoors and need a smart, affordable vehicle to transport you and your many pieces of gear without hassle, the 2009 Honda Element will work for you.

You May Not Like This Car If...

New-age styling may not appeal to everyone. Also, there is no V6 option and the Element's four-wheel-drive system is not designed for serious off-road adventuring.

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Element gets a major makeover, with an all-new front end featuring metal as opposed to composite fenders, new wheel arches and new taillights. The rear skylight panel has been discontinued, but a new navigation audio unit with rear backup camera and USB audio input connector is now available on EX and SC trims. LX and EX trims receive a new center console, while the EX gains a removable cooler/storage box.

Driving the Element

Driving Impressions The Element's 2.4-liter engine is very smooth for a four-cylinder and quite strong for its size, with a good deal of torque for pulling and passing. The Element will easily...

cruise at 75 mph, and even accelerate up a highway grade in fifth gear. The Element's ride and handling characteristics are much more akin to a sedan than a truck-based SUV. Once we adjusted to the long dash and squared-off hood, we found it easy to dart in and out of traffic and take sweeping curves and sharp turns with confidence. The steering and brakes operate with precision and predictable response, returning excellent feedback under all driving conditions.

Fold Flat Seats
The Element's fold-flat seats can be converted into a bed by removing the headrests and laying the seats flat and flush.

Worry-Free Interior
Waterproof seating materials and a urethane-coated utility floor give the Element a durable, easy-to-clean interior.

2009 Honda Element Details
2009 Honda Element photo Interior

From the dash-mounted shift lever to the fold-flat rear seats that can be flipped up and secured to the sides, the Element's interior is unlike anything else on the road. When the rear seats are flipped up on their sides, there's a cargo area large enough to place two upright-standing mountain bikes. The front seats feature integrated safety belts and are surprisingly comfortable. They are made of a durable, washable fabric that breathes nicely, a benefit on hot days. On LX and EX trims, the floor is covered in rubber-like urethane, not carpet, so it can be cleaned up easily. The SC model features carpeting in the passenger cabin, but not in the cargo bay.

Exterior

Easily recognizable at any distance, the Element's boxy greenhouse, bright paint choices and forward-opening rear doors are only some of its unique styling features. The new front fenders are now made of metal, but the rear quarter panels remain painted composite plastic, which are less prone to dents and help reduce weight. The lack of a center pillar allows for large and bulky items to be loaded through the side doors, but the design precludes rear-seat occupants from exiting until the front doors are first opened. Those who prefer a more customized ride can opt for front-wheel drive SC trim, which features a more sporting appearance and sits slightly lower to the ground. Its 18-inch wheels and low profile tires not only change the Element's personality, they help it perform better on paved roads.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2009 Honda Element LX features a five-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, five cup holders, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, rear defroster, rear privacy glass, dual power side mirrors, cruise control, tilt wheel, rear wiper/washer, power windows, steel wheels, side-curtain airbags, front side-impact airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). The EX trim adds a five speed manual (4WD only), alloy wheels and a 270-watt, seven-speaker sound system with CD/MP3 capability, removable center console cooler, 16-inch alloy wheels and an auxiliary input jack.

Optional Equipment

Options include Real Time four-wheel drive, a five-speed automatic transmission and a voice-activated navigation system with rear backup camera (EX and SC with automatic transmission only). Ordering the SC package adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a lowered sport suspension, piano-black interior trim, custom cloth seats, carpeting, center console, projector-beam halogen headlamps, a custom grille and custom-painted bumpers.

Under the Hood

Honda employs the excellent 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine from the CR-V to serve duty in the Element. This is a strong four-cylinder engine with a surprising amount of low-end torque that translates into quick acceleration across intersections and capable passing power on the highway. Fuel mileage is comparable to most small SUV's in this class and, considering the Element's boxy shape, roomy interior and large frame, that's a commendable achievement.

2.4-liter in-line 4
166 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/23 (FWD, Manual), 20/25 (FWD, Automatic), 18/23 (4WD, Manual), 19/24 (4WD, Automatic)

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2009 Honda Element Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.2
Out of 10

Based on 727 Ratings for the 2003 - 2011 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.4/10
    Quality
    9.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.6/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    9.0/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Great vehicle

By on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 250,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "great all around van that will get the job done"

Cons: "the early windshields"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The Honda Element is a great drive....I would buy another one if Honda hadn't foolishly stopped making them...it has gotten me through rain, snow storms...just a great van. If your seeking super comfort this isn't the van for you, but for home or work there is not a better car on the road."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Versatile, reliable and cute

By on Monday, August 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Carrying capacity, space, Honda reliability."

Cons: "No fifth seat"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Why did Honda discontinue this model? It's essentially a little truck with enormous amounts of head and leg room perched over a Civic chassis. The rear seats stow up against the side walls rather than lying flat, creating a huge open area that I (a 5'6" woman) stand stand up straight in. Downside: It's not the most comfortable ride in the world; and the wide front pillars detract from visibility, but you quickly learn to deal with that, and they are lifesavers in a crash. A friend totalled his Element but the cabin was untouched and uncrushed. A potential inconvenience in my 2004 is the theatre-style rear seats. The car holds 4 people, period; you can't squeeze in a 5th. But hey, it's a compact, not a station wagon. It stands taller than any car in the parking lot except maybe a Range Rover (which it resembles in miniature), a great convenience. I love this quirky little thing and haven't found anything to replace it. Not that I have had to -- there have been no major repairs in 11 years, except to replace a radiator that was pierced by a rock."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Best car I've ever owned!

By on Friday, August 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Very comfortable for long trips"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought my first car in 1969. Until I bought the Honda I was a "Ford" guy. But no longer, Honda all the way! This car has been extremely reliable. Has massive storage capacity with great road feel. I've driven coast to coast and in all kinds of weather. Great in rain, heat and snow! Maintenance has been very reasonable. I love the Element but am retired thinking of an RV."

very good, very reliable

By on Monday, August 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 113,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Mechaniclly perfect. Very versital."

Cons: "Interior kind of cheap. Factory."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Frosty cold a/c still has freon it was born with 40 degree duct temp. Oil changed every 3000 miles. Still silver under oil cap. Very dependable. Never been in shop except for services. New 140 mph tires, all matching. Overall, outstanding vehicle.. Would take across country tomorrow."

Best vehicle I ever owned!

By on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Reliable and well built."

Cons: "Not very hi-tec"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This Element has been the best car I ever owned and the 2nd best car was a Honda Civic. I've owned at least 16 cars and Honda is the best of all including Ford, Chevy, Mercury, Chysler, VW and Mercedes. The Element is not fancy but everything works. It is very utilitarian. The audio system is probably the most awesome thing about the whole car except its reliability."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Nice ride, would buy again.

By on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "roomy, adequate power, fun to drive"

Cons: "transmission hunting between 4th and 5th, TPMS"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this new in March 2011 and then found out it was the last year of production. I think Honda dropped the ball on this. You can hardly find a used one anywhere. I like the car because of the space on the inside especially with the rear seats removed although they aren't the easiest to R & R. It rides really nice for what it is and with the "rubber" flooring it is a breeze taking care of. One issue though is the amount of road noise when the rear seats are laid flat and hooked on the roof. I guess the lack of carpet lets more noise through. I'm not complaining about this, just making mention of it. If I have a pet peeve about the car, it's the transmission continually hunting between 4th and 5th gear. It's really annoying to me. I wish it had paddle shifters. And the TPMS has always been a nuisance but I guess that is the sign of the times to be burdened with idiot lights and false alarms. I run my tires well above the minimum but the TPMS still goes off when ever it wants to. However, overall it is really a good car and if I had it to do over I would buy it again."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

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