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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 731 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

Best Car ever

By on Saturday, February 06, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Economical to own, plenty of power"

Cons: "None"

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

"I bought this car new in 2006 and I traded in a BMW 325 and this car is far superior to the Beemer. I drive it across the country once a year to California and average 26 MPG. You never get tired while driving long distances and I'm 78. Great view of the road and excellent visibility all the way around! I intend to keep this car as long as both it and I still am able to function. The car is bullet proof."

great car I'm 6'8" all the headroom I need

By on Saturday, October 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 174,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "comfy, semi reliable, lots of headroom"

Cons: "no legroom, expensive to fix, gashog"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Fairly reliable but an absolute gas hog If you can afford to stroke a check to the stealer-ship for its many mechanical quirks then great. If you do the work yourself even better. A few silly things...the alternator is on the bottom front, so though it will go through a deep puddle, it may cost you 150 bucks. There's about 8 things that make the shift lock engage...dealership has no good way to fix this and will fail...2 zip ties fix the issue forever"

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

LOVE THIS CAR! Great for anyone

By on Saturday, September 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 98,567

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "ton of room, seats flip up"

Cons: "awkward to get in/out of backseat"

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

"This is great car. I got one when I was in high school and it has everything I could want. lots of room for me when i moved, and a lot of leg room in back, but the backseat is awkward."

7 people out of 13 found this review helpful

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."

10 people out of 17 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."

8 people out of 10 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."

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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