Honda Element owners:

Every time I load up my Outback I seem to have to shoehorn my gear into it. Yeah, I know that I should pack more carefully and all that…

I recently test-drove an Elementn and was pleasantly surprised at its handling. With the rear seats removed, the cargo space is cavernous. The rubber interior would be quite easy to clean.

My question is: Do any of you live in mountainous areas? If so, how does it do on long interstate grades with the boats on top?

I see a vehile with a boxier shape and less HP than my Outback, and wonder what will happen to the MPG.


I 'd be more concerned…
about side impact on a vehicle possesing little side structure. My friends who own them love 'em though.

What year is your Outback? I’m sure the Element gets better gas mileage than my 05 Outback XT. Mine came with the rubber mats and they are great for paddlers, no matter what vehicle you have, sedan, wagon, SUV, it is a lot easier not to have to worry about salt and winter grime and stuff.


I live in Florida, but my Element has been through the mountains loaded to the GILLS!

It’s an ‘03 EX AWD with the 5-speed tranny.

We evacuated for one hurricane two years ago, and towed our 6’X12’ Pace enclosed trailer (1100 lbs empty) with my 900 Triumph motorcycle, all of my tools, our TVs, computers, clothes…you name it. Had to have been over 3000 lb total.

We made it up to Macon, Ga. and back just fine.

We haul our yaks on top with the Yakima J-shaped cradles (don’t remember what they call them).

We are usually towing our Aliner Expedition pop-up camper when we go for the weekend, along with the yaks, and a bunch of extra gear.

“Travel light” (except for this post!) is NOT in our vocabulary! :slight_smile:

The Element will AMAZE you with it’s GREAT, truly non-SUV style handling.

On the highway, without all the extra stuff, I can average aroud 23-24 mpg at 70 mph.


Mostly good stuff…
I have an ‘05 and love it. I’ve cruised through Michigan with 3 17’ sea kayaks on top at 75 mph with no effort.

I just got finished cleaning out sand that had accumulated from 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. Cleaning is a breeze.

Space is great for two people and S__t-load of gear and decent for 3 people and gear.

Probably the only thing I don’t like is its height. It’s a little tougher loading the yaks on top, but I guess the price you pay for all that space.

It’s got a great sound system, too.

I looked at the Element
when we bought the Subie a couple years ago. And for the life of me I remember the Outback having more CF storage than either the Element or Forestor. Though I could be crazy (some here have accused me of that).


My OB is an '05

– Last Updated: Oct-05-06 5:31 PM EST –

Don't get me wrong - it is a fine vehicle. Sometimes I just would like to pack everything in Rubbermaid Totes and be able to throw 'em in the back.

Ground clearance on the Subys is around 8" (not bad, eh?).

The height of the Element is not a problem: I have a set of Hullavators.

I also drove the new 2007 CRV. Sweet vehicle. More HP, bigger wheels, more amenities. But bad news Mike: The barn door rear has been yuppified into a hatch. :-(

Side impacts in an Element should be no worse than most other vehicles. The added steel for the rear doors is substantial.

The short rack spread on both the Element and the CRV bugg me though......Maybe I should wait for the redesigned 2008 Forrester.


EDIT: I averaged 25 mpg for an 8000 stretch (per the trip computer)for ALL driving: Commuting, around town, kayak, kayaks, canoe on roof. Not too shabby in my estimation.

Yo Jim,

– Last Updated: Oct-05-06 5:58 PM EST –

Before you buy check out 1 more vehicle. I just bought a 2006 Toyota RAV 4 269hp V-6 4WD 5 speed Auto . I have a base model but it has vehicle stability control,traction control,side curtain air bags,tire air pressure sensors,down hill assist,hill hold,and the usual standard freatures found in most cars. It is almost twice the size of the Subie once the fold flat seats are down. {see picture link}. 2 Storage bins ,one under rear seat,and another under the rear storage area,door pockets,seat pockets,2 glove boxes,and 6 cup/bottle holders. 42" of rack spread front to rear,and roof height is slightly higher then the Subie,but reasonable to reach. I used it last weekend for camping, towing my teardrop trailer & 1 canoe on top in stop & go city driving 21.8mpg. Regular driving 23-24mpg around town,and 27.8 on a trip,and it is not broken in yet. Uses regular gas The V-6 engine is silk smooth,and tons of low end torque,and towing my trailer doesn't even seem to bother it. You will see it at Raystown,and you can drive it if you want. I am really happy with it,and it works far better then my Tacoma did for what I use it for.The best thing is the side swinging rear door,with the boats loaded,you can still access the stuff in the back. Ground clearance is 7.5". My base RAV was less then My Subie with all the things mentioned. There is a Sport model,and Limited if you need all powered seats,moon roof,JBL bluetooth MP3 stereo,DVD player,leather,steering radio/phone controls on steering, Yada,Yada,Yada.


Happy Paddling billinpa


– Last Updated: Oct-05-06 5:58 PM EST –

The Honda Element has absolutely awful views from the rear seat for passengers because of a poorly placed side roof support. This was mentioned in reviews, and I believed it when I sat in the back seat during a test drive. With kids in the back seat, it did not work -- they couldn't see out.

Suggestion: if you care at all about back seat passengers, sit in the back seat during the demo and shut the door.

If the back seat is only for sprayskirts and paddles, they likely don't mind sitting in a windowless box.

Billinpa & Cooldoctor:
Yeah Bill, I tested the new Rav4 in the sport model. Pretty slick. My only reservation was that the seats are much softer than the OB’s, but that may not be a factor. Liked the V6 too.

Cooldoctor, I got no younguns and had planned on donating the rear seats to Goodwill. Or putting them on my porch.

What it comes down to is that I would like a bit more room than an OB, and there are many choices. For someone who has had a 1996, 2000, 2003 and a 2005 Suby, thinking outside the Outback box is kinda scary. I like all of the little amenities on the OB: heated mirrors, heated windshield, heated seats, trip computer, 6-way power seat etc. The CRV forces you to buy a leather-seated version to get heated seats and fog lamps. The Element lacks many of the aforementioned goodies. The Rav4…well, I still worry about the seats with my big build.

Fact of the matter is that I really do not HAVE to trade, just want to shop. Such a flip-flopper!


My wife likes the seats better in my RAV,then her Subie. Wider base,and not as much of a firm thigh bolster on the seat base. We find the Subie seats uncomfortable on long trips. Did a 6 hour ride in the RAV a few weeks back with my 90 year old mother,and she even remarked about the nicer seats. The rear seats recline,and move forward & back. LOTS more rear leg in the RAV. Even easier to get in & out of. My wife wants a RAV for her next car. Dumping her beloved Subies after driving them for over 20 years.It impressed her.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Here’s My Opinion as an Owner
I’ve owned one for 13 months and have put 35K miles on mine so far. I drive highway, gravel roads and off road all pretty much on a daily basis. The ground clearance doesn’t appear to be that much, but I cross creeks on the farm here without problems. Doesn’t have a “Real” 4WD, but driving in snow, sleet, and mud and creeks I’ve never got it stuck and only felt slippage a couple times. Just got back from Yellowstone and the Tetons and no problems with the mountain driving and driving in sleet and snow on mountainous roads (the E didn’t have problems, but my WIFE had problems with acrophobia on a few of those mountain passes when the roads were slick). I have probably camped a total of 12-15 days in the Element, some with my wife in there too. I’m 6’2" and NOT skinny. Is it luxuriously roomy to camp in? No. Is it comfortable enough? Yes. The roof is long and flat and it’s a shame Honda couldn’t have made the roof rack attachments further apart. But, I’ve stilled hauled two tandem canoes and 3 solo canoes and numerous combos of boats without problems. The seats are not the best I’ve sat in, nor the worst. They’re good, but more lumbar support would make my wife happier. 100% of theose who have ridden in the back seats of my Element have remarked on how much they liked the roominess of the back seats and how well they COULD see out the windows. I get an honest, combined 22 MPG with my Element, sometimes a bit better, rarely worse (except when we got bad gas in northern MO). I have spent an ungodly ammount of hours in my Element the last few weeks (I drive 91 miles EACH way to work) and I LOVE my Element. If I were to design MY IDEAL PADDLING VEHICLE, it would be an Element that was 2’ longer, had a wider roof spread, and got 50 MPG. The only vehicle I’ve owned that’s ever been as good a paddling vehicle as the Element was my '71 International Travelall, that got about 10 MPG. IMHO, the Element is ALMOST the perfect paddling vehicle. Anyone wants to try one out, come to the Ozark Rendevous and you can give one a spin! WW

Honda Element
After 60,000 miles of hauling kayaks, bikes and skis I’ll keep it short-PERFECT for all. Yes the seats could be better but aftermarket pad solved that. The guy who said the back seat passengers could not see is whacked out on that since my passengers love it.

I get 22 mpg with boats on the roof but I only have front wheel not AWD. I get 26 mpg when I pop the Thule rack off the roof and go sleek. I do wish Honda had put the rack mounts 10 inches further apart but hey, it works well enough to drive to Florida and back to Michigan a few times with 16 foot kayaks. Get one!!

Element Pics
Here’s a few Element Pics. BTW, as for the little 4 Cylinder engine; I’ve never felt like it was underpowered and we’ve had it loaded (many times) much more than the conservative manufacturer reccomendations. WW

the “element” is the ugliest vehicle
I have seen in years! If you purchase one ask if it comes with a skirt (not spray skirt).

stick w/the outback.

Have you seen
A Pontiac Aztek, or the French Citroen car??

Either one makes an Element look, well, GOOD! :slight_smile:


I seem to remember an Element owner saying “It’s only ugly on the outside.”


'06 EXP 5 speed silver
Bought in July, it has about 2500 miles on it. Fourth Honda in a row, first brand new. The E holds its value so well, there was no point in buying used. You cannot beat a Honda. Back seats removed easily as honda engineers intended (took less than 2 minutes). This machine is engineered really well. Camped in the Adirondacks with it for several weeks in August - no problemo. In test drives, I found the automatic a bit sluggish, for city (and I suppose mountain) driving. But, the 5 speed is as zippy as you’d ever need. The placement of the shifter on the dash is a hoot - and plenty comfortable once you get used to it.

Fifth gear revs a little too high out on the open highway. Truly, that is my only complaint. I’d install a 6 speed, but it would void the warranty:

Leg room, head room, cargo room, good gas mileage, V-tech engine, great lane-changing visiblity, great handling, etc. It is more subject to wind than most vehicles, but some trade off for all that room is inevitable. If beauty is form following function, this baby is beautiful. I like that the '06s eliminate the black quarter panels.

I may be a late, last minute entry at Raystown, with Wenonah Prism and newly installed Cooke Custom spray cover. My attendance will have to be a game-day decision. If I can make it, you will be more than welcome to try her out. Or, if you are coming through Wilmington anytime soon, same offer applies. Dave

The Wife Refused To Look At It…
…at first because she thought it so ugly. And then she fell in love with it after a test drive. As for myself, I don’t give a hoot what a vehicle looks like; to me, a vehicle is a “Tool.” And IMHO it’s the best paddling vehicle out there. WW

WW–We like the Element because
before it came along, our Aztek was said to be the ugliest vehicle on the road. lol

As you have noted, beauty is as beauty does. Our Aztek is a beauty, dude.