I am looking to buy a Honda Element, but am not sure how important it is to get one with the factory roof rack. I see Yakima has a tower for the Element- Would it give a wider spread between bars than the factory roof rack? How have you put the boats on your roof? Any suggestions? thanks!
My wife owns an Element.
I don’t. I have a real Honda, a Ridgeline. j/k.
Actually she loves her Element and it’s a nice little SUV.
On the topic (sorry for getting OT), the factory bars don’t look BAD to me, but I think Yakima or Thule look better for about the same $, maybe a little more. The spread will be the same with all, however, because they’re all designed to fit into factory mounts under a small plastic cap on the roof. Honda called it. No changes.
I can’t speak to any of them yet, as I have not purchased a rack to date. I’ve been looking at the Thule, however, and I think that’s your best bet.
Go with Thule. Used Thule for years, and they keep parts for years. Vaughn Fulton
Among others, I bought my Element SC in order to no longer have to deal neither with Thule nor Yakima racks: they look ugly, rust if you leave them 24/7 on humid weather, and a Thule rack fail to me on the road a few years ago... (I used Thule for quite a few years).
To my most humble opinion, the original Honda rack looks nice, is quite strong, and easy to install.
Only my two cents based on personal experience,
seems like I’m always hauling kayaks
and have several vehicles rigged to do so. I too studied the Element but ruled it out solely because of is roof line and some inherent disability in hauling long kayaks…yes it can be done, safely I’m sure, but in the end I had to look at my lifestyle and how often I’m hauling…that led to another reality for me which is a Nissan Crew Cab pickup…its still under scrutiny but is looking like a nice way once a pickup bed cap is installed.
Good luck with the element.
Had Ours 2 Years With Thule’s
I love our Element and plan on keeping it a long time. Sure, I would have designed it with a longer spread for racks, but after thousands of miles with boats atop it I've had no problems. I've hauled 2 big tandems canoes, 3 solo's and everything in between with the longest Thule bars.
The interior and seats is great for wet gear, paddlers, dogs, et al. The thing gets arround on all kinds of terrain on the farm and at river accesses without hesitation. My Element has probably spent more time off-road than all the Hummers on the road combined.
Only thing I would change is I'd settle for the 2WD. The 4WD kicks in only occasionally, and usually only when crossing a creek on the farm. I would get the 2WD and get a few more MPG's. Also, skip the moonroof. Not very easy to remove and only usefull if you're in the backseat. That reminds me, the backseat has an unbelievable ammount of legroom for tall folks.
Here's a few pics of mine with various hauling configurations. WW
Tangent question please …
What kind of mileage are you guys seeing with the Element ? If you had to drive a bunch on gravel - 1st gear, creek bed type roads would you opt for the CRV instead ?
Rack side note, if you pop the factory racks off you will see some real nice attachment points to reconfigure with some angle aluminum and automatically get a wider spread with factory mounting points.
The shortest boat I am currently hauling is 17 feet long. Most of the time, I carry either my 21 or 20 feet long surfski as you can see in the picture...
Have driven both.
My wife owns the Element, I drove a 2007 CRV for 3 months last winter (company car). Same engine, but the CRV gets at least 5mpg better city or hwy because it has much lower wind resistance.
If you’re tall, however (I’m 6’3"), the CRV’s a tighter fit on leg room. There’s plenty of room in both, but the Element’s seat goes farther back. The spec’s don’t indicate that, so jump in them back to back and you’ll see what I mean. Specs often lie.
The CRV is a much nicer ride also and seats 5 instead of the E’s 4. And it’s available in nicer trim like leather, if so desired. But it will cost you a few grand more.
Trade offs both ways. Neither is right for everyone, but either will serve you well with the right needs.
Less wind resistance and higher gearing
But I still prefer our Element.
22 MPG With the 4WD
I preferred the Element. The CRV rides a bit nicer, but I like everything about the Element. I'm 6'2" and could wear a big Cowboy hat inside the Element without touching the roof. Not sure what you're talking about with increasing the rack spread, though. How? There are only the four attachment points that I know of.
The attachment point for the Thule rack is very substantial. More so than the attachment points that I had with the same Thule system on the Ford Escape, Dodge Durango, and Toyota Rav4. I have toyed with the idea of drilling through the roof so the rack's attachment point is closer to the rear to make loading a little easier but can't make myself do it. Every time I consider it, I tell myself "If it works, don't try to fix it!"
Here's a couple pics of every day travel with the Element. Needless to say, I haven't been able to take pictures of the really rough stuff I drive through on the farm. WW