As far as unique compact crossover SUVs go, the Honda Element has always been an eye-catching vehicle. Largely based on the platform of the CR-V crossover SUV, the Element's square, yet rounded contours have always made it stand out from the crowd. This four-passenger vehicle, which comes standard with front-wheel drive and has all-wheel drive available, boasts an impressive 75 cubic feet of storage space when its rear seats are removed. Its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine isn't a powerhouse, but it is more than capable of getting the job done.
The Element's utterly unique style is largely owed to the whims of its designers, who wanted to create a vehicle that would appeal to outdoorsy types. It was largely designed in Japan, but it is manufactured in East Liberty, Ohio. With a towing capacity of just 1,500 pounds, it is not meant for hauling large trailers; it's a snap to fit plenty of camping gear inside it, though. Front-wheel drive models have a fuel economy rating of 20 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the freeway and 22 mpg combined. Its engine produces 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque, and it runs on a five-speed automatic transmission.
When it started appearing in dealerships across the U.S. in 2003, the Honda Element only had two available trim levels; that remained largely true throughout its run, although those trim levels did change. 2005 saw the introduction of the LX trim, which included MP3 compatibility and satellite radio. A slight refresh in 2007 made the five-speed automatic standard, brought a new grille design to the table and added standard side airbags. Flagging interest in the Element made the 2011 model year its last.
A unique blend between a sport utility vehicle and a pickup truck is achieved with the Element. Its clamshell rear doors open backwards; with the front and rear doors open, a large opening is created. The pickup-style tailgate is also designed with cargo in mind. Out of all of the dealer-installed packages that are available, the Dog Friendly package has to be the most notable. It adds a wide range of features that include a ramp, a pet bed, a built-in kennel and an electric fan.
The Honda Element has been recognized several times through the years for its unique design and sports utility prowess. In 2010, Edmunds.com listed it as a Top Recommended vehicle in its Mobility Buying Guide. That same year, it was designated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In addition to those remarkable honors, the Element was singled out by Dogcars.com in 2007, when it won the Dog Car of the Year award for its dog-friendly design and features.
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