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2011 Honda Element in a Death Spiral?

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The 2011 Honda Element returns with fewer options and fewer model lines for the new model year, with no sign of a replacement in sight.

The funky, flexible crossover comes back in LX and EX trim--missing the more sporty SC edition introduced with much fanfare a few years ago. The remaining versions still feature the clamshell-style side doors, a tailgated rear end, and rear seats that flip, fold, and lash to the cargo area sides to create a two-seat urban hauler.

The sole powertrain is Honda's 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, with only a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is an option. The EPA-rated fuel economy is 20/25 mpg for front-drive Elements, and 19/24 mpg for AWD versions.

Standard features include AM/FM/CD, air conditioning, cruise control, and power locks/windows/mirrors. The EX adds XM, an auxiliary jack, steering-wheel audio controls, and more speakers. The navigation system previously offered is no longer available.

The Element's consistently strong crash-test performance should be unchanged--though the NHTSA may rate it differently thanks to new star ratings and roof-crush standards.

With the reduction in trim lines and in build complexity, Honda may be moving the slow-selling Element to life support. The Element has been in the Honda lineup since 2003 and, save for a powertrain upgrade a few years ago, hasn't been significantly updated in body style or structure. Sales have tapered off; Honda has moved only about 10,800 Element crossovers this year through September.

The automaker hasn't confirmed if the Element will be replaced, while its CR-V sibling recently received a major makeover.

[Honda via KickingTires]

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