"I have owned my element for 4 years now. It is an LX with real time AWD and a 5-speed manual transmission. I have added various extra to it over the years including side steps, a bull guard, aftermarket stereo system, fog lights, class II towing hitch and a thule roof rack for carrying sporting equipment. I am going to breakdown the various strong and weak points of the vehicle, granted though there are not many weak points.
-Performs well is all weather conditions, AWD works especially well for snow and rain, I have personally driven it through blizzards with 8+ inches of snow on the roads in California and Colorado without having to resort to chains though I still keep them in the back just in case
-Seats 4 large people extremely comfortably for long road trips with enough luggage space for everyone, by large I mean tall or wide, everybody in my immediate family is over 6 foot so it is necessary for me
-Incredibly versatile for hauling all types of cargo for moving or just picking up some new piece of furniture or a new high def TV at your local store
-Works fairly well for car camping, the seats when laid flat are not that comfortable in my opinion (but that might be because I am 6'7"), however if you throw a foam pad on top it works out all right
-Can be used for any sporting activity, I mainly use it for surfing and mountain biking, in both case you can put the sporting gear on the roof rack or in the car for added security if need be
-Expansive cabin space so you don't get claustrophobic on long trips
-Extremely reliable with scheduled maintenance, though I am a little more cautious on this front and don't follow the guidelines of Honda exactly, so every 30k I am doing a major service with all the fluids being replaced
-Can tow a moderately sized trailer if need be, I towed around an enclosed 6"x10" trailer this past summer as I drove around NM, CO and UT with no problems, you might not be going up some of the mountain passes at 70+ mph but you will get there eventually albeit at a slower pace
-seatbelt design for the front two seats in the pre-2007 elements, it is on the suicide door so you have to take off you seat belt to let someone in or out of the back
-no full size spare, just a donut, I think they could expand the area where the spare is to accommodate a full sized spare, not having one is worrisome when I am in the middle of nowhere exploring
-stock tires, they are all right but will chirp a lot on turns and are not so stupendous with more icy conditions, get yourself some michelins or BF goodrich tires when the stock ones wear out
-fuel economy is all right, I have gotten up to 27 mpg on long trips at elevation, here at sea level i get around 22-24 avg, I know you are driving around a shoe box but it seems that Honda should be able to squeeze some more efficiency out of this vehicle, maybe changing the front end? using a different type of injection/valve system? who knows, but it would be nice to be closer to 30 mpg on the highway
All in all I love my Element and will be keeping it for many years to come. It is definitely the car for hauling around stuff and taking long trips. Maybe they will come out with a plug in hybrid version in the future! There sure is enough space in the engine bay to support that."
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