Honda's Element offers a truly unique and, in some ways, more practical alternative to conventional sport-utility vehicles. Its stylishly boxy shape and dent-absorbing plastic body panels make it stand-out from the pack of the wagon-like competition and its rear-hinged "suicide" back doors, combined with wide-opening front doors and versatile rear seats that flip to the side or fold flat, afford easy cargo access and storage. Back-seat riders enjoy limousine-like legroom, reclining seats (though for only two passengers) and a rear sunroof. The back seat-rests can fold flat or the seat can split-fold in the middle and be fastened to the sides of the vehicle to maximize the Element's cargo-carrying abilities. Inside, outward visibility is plentiful and there's plenty of cupholders and storage areas. An ideal vehicle for parents with young children, its urethane-coated floor washes out with a garden hose. The Element's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine generates an ample, though far-from-thrilling, 160 horsepower and drives either the front or all four wheels via a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Changes for 2005 include the availability of XM satellite radio, with all audio systems now equipped with MP3 and WMA playback capability. Power mirrors, cruise control and new wheel covers are added to the LX trim level, while a tailpipe finisher, new side sills are newly included with the EX version, which also receives new exterior colors and color combinations.
2005 Honda ElementEnlarge Photo