More power is always a good thing — especially if it was in short supply to begin with. This is the big news about the updated '07 Honda Element, which gains ten needed horses (up to 166 from 156 last year) as well as a new SC sport package to complement the power uptick.
The Element — a boxy-looking five-door, four-passenger "whazzat?" designed to appeal to active lifestyle Gen X and Gen Y types — continues to be one of the most distinctive vehicles on the market. It's not handsome, but it has a friendly, low-key personality that's an appealing contrast to today's frantic, stress-crazed world of vehicular one-upmanship. It is pleasantly unpretentious, inexpensive, and extremely versatile. Unusual features include drop-down, ambulance-style fold-down cots for beach parties or camping trips, a removable rear sunroof, backward-opening rear doors (and a pick-up truck-like split-folding tailgate out back), waterproof seats, and a rubberized, easy to clean interior.
If you are old enough to remember good-natured oddballs of the past like the '73-'74 VW Thing and the Subaru Brat of the early-mid '80s, you will recognize a kindred spirit in the Element — albeit one with modern amenities and safety upgrades, as well as a lot more cargo room (70-plus cubic feet with the back seats down). MORE--
A boost in the pants
As before, the Element comes in both standard front- and optional all-wheel-drive forms. The new SC sport package ($22,695 with manual transmission; $23,495 with five-speed automatic) is not available with AWD, though. This probably was decided upon to maximize the performance potential of the SC, since the extra weight of the AWD equipment (as well as the inertial load) would have slowed it down a bit. All '07 Elements — not just SCs — do get the up-rated 2.4 liter, 166-hp engine, however.
So, how does it run?
"Fast" isn't really the right the word, but "strained," at least, no longer applies. The '07 Element now has the legs to be comfortable in other-than-city traffic; up to 70 or so mph, there is pull to match the noise of the engine as it runs through its rev range. It’s no rocket ship but it does move. The original Element sometimes didn't move quickly, especially AWD-equipped, automatic versions.
The five-speed '07 SC's 0-60 time of around 9 seconds flat (vs. 9.3-9.6 seconds for an '06 Element with the less powerful engine, AWD and automatic transmission) tells the story. It may not seem like that much of an improvement. But when you've only got a narrow window to attempt a pass (or are facing a short on-ramp that doesn't give you a lot of time to build up some speed) those extra couple of tenths can make all the difference.
You can even get a little rubber on the 1-2 upshift, if you're good with your clutchwork. MORE-