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2009 Honda Element

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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 739 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

My second Element.

By on Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 144,000

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
5/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Reliable, Unique, Dog-Friendly"

Cons: "Underpowered, Brick Shaped, Bare-bones interior."

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

"I left the US to live overseas for 5 years and I sold my 2003 Element before I moved. Coming back to the states I spent a lot of time going from dealer to dealer looking for a vehicle that I enjoyed as much as that silly box of a car. Great for dogs and bags of mulch due to the lack of carpet anywhere. Also great if you are a fan of lots of leg room and headspace. Waterproof seats top things off when coming back after the pool and those rainy days in Seattle. It's older now because they don't make them any more so it was hard to find one. The engine is still underpowered so it always feels labored when travelling up steep inclines. One nice thing is that the radio space is a full double DIN spot so it is relatively easy to upgrade to Bluetooth, navigation, and backup camera. Overall I'm truly happy that I purchased my second Element."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Excellent practical, reliable vehicle

By on Sunday, June 5, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 81,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "practical, reliable, user friendly"

Cons: "gas mileage"

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

"The Element is quite reliable, having given me no real problems since I've had it - a headlight bulb and odometer bulbs. It is exceptionally practical. I've hauled furniture, firewood, household items, bags of sand and gravel, sod, lumber, and all kinds of other stuff. Cleanup afterward is simple since there's no carpet involved. The quick process of either setting the back seats up out of the way or completely removing them makes hauling stuff really easy. What else? Lets' see, the sound system is very good, it's easy on tires, it impressed me with it's four-wheel ability in Minnesota snow-covered hills, and it has a turning radius shorter than cars even smaller than it is. One of the best things, though, is the simplicity of the dash. It is so user friendly. No IT degree or pilot's license required to use anything. So, the few complaints. Gas mileage, fer sher, though I knew that wasn't rated well when I bought it. I recently switched to synthetic oil and am still pleasantly surprised to have picked up 3 more mpg. I had expected 1.5, maybe 2 if I was lucky. Another complaint is the road noise. All the vehicles I've had since front-wheel drive became king have had road noise to some extent. The Element's is the most so far. All in all, a great vehicle that I will probably never get rid of. It's just way too practical."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Best car I've ever owned

By on Thursday, May 12, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 230,000

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

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

"Sorry that Honda quit making this car, I would buy another in a heartbeat. Drives great, good mileage, great interior layout. I can put 4 people in the car comfortably, back seat has major legroom and the stadium seating is a real plus. Can quickly change interior configuration from passengers to cargo, have hauled everything from doors and firepits to plants and mulch. Never had any mechanical problems in 230000 miles, just routine maintenance and the TANAKA airbag recall."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Arguably, the best car yet in my history

By on Sunday, May 1, 2016

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

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
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Hey, it’s a Honda!"

Cons: "No much to complain about"

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

"Of all the vehicles I’ve owned, this is the best. Most reliable. The stick shift was a 6 month wait, but well worth it. Great fuel economy. Zippy, and agile. Not the most comfortable, but for a SUV, not too harsh."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

OUTSTANDING VALUE AND FLEXIBILITY

By on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000

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
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "SMALL $'s GENEROUS INTERIOR INTELLIGENT DESIGN"

Cons: "HONDA DISCONTINUED PRODUTION OF ELEMENT"

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

"BOUGHT THIS 4 WHEEL DRIVE CAR NEW FOR 20K! I WANTED A DURABLE PRACTICAL CAR THAT WOULD HOLD UP TO BEING PARKED OUTSIDE FOR HARSH CHICAGO SEASONS. THIS ELEMENT PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS! NO RUST AND STILL BEAMS AFTER AN AUTOMATIC CARWASH. ROLLS OVER SPEED BUMPS AND THROUGH POTHOLES WITH BARELY SLOWING DOWN. THIS CAR FITS INTO TIGHT PARKING SPOTS WITH ONLY INCHES BETWEEN VEHICLES. WHEELS ARE PLACED AT OUTER EDGE OF CAR FOR SUPERIOR MANEUVERABILITY . HAS EXCELLED IN NAVIGATING URBAN OBSTACLES AND IS VERY COMFORTABLE ON LONG ROAD TRIPS. I HAVE BEEN SPOILED BY THE VALUE AND SENSIBLE DESIGN. I SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR A NEW CAR AS I NOW HAVE A HEATED GARAGE AND LOVE CARS. I CANNOT PART WITH MY ELEMENT. BEST CAR I HAVE EVER OWNED"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

THIS HAS BEEN A DREAM VEHICLE INSPECTED THRU 11-16

By on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 201,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "FEELS LIKE A FRIEND ALWAYS RELIBLE"

Cons: "SLIGHT TEAR ON SEAM OF DRIVERS SEAT IS ALL"

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

"iN ADDITION TO NORMAL EQUIPMENT I ALSO INSTALLED A BACK UP CAMERA AND BLIND SPOT MONITORS. former ins co, ruine my car fax saying ai HAD VEHICLE DAMAGE WHICH WAS NOT TRUE, A PARKING LOT MINOR ACCIDENT, NO DAMAGE TO MY CAR, CLAIM WAS FOR A BACK UP CAMERA ON A SPORTY BMW SHOWED DAMAGE TO MY CAR WAS 0"

6 people out of 11 found this review helpful

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