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Expert reviewers at TheCarConnection.com consulted what the most authoritative auto critics have written about the new Honda Element to produce this conclusive review of the new Honda Element. TheCarConnection.com editors also drove the Element in order to interweave our expert opinion and help you make the right decision on a new vehicle.
- Carlike driving demeanor
- Highly versatile interior
- Logical, substantial controls and displays
- Slick and capacious cargo storage
- Lots of vehicle for the money
- Engine noise
- Materials, especially dash surfaces
- Awkward front seatbelts
- Rear doors can't be opened on their own
The Honda Element soldiers into 2009 with some noteworthy changes: styling updates on the outside, new electronics and infotainment within. The 2009 Honda Element remains a unique vehicle, being equal parts crossover, SUV, economy car, and upright utility van. Its chunky exterior dimensions translate into a cavernous interior that swallows bulky items with ease. The easy-to-use rear seats contain two passengers comfortably, flip up for more utility, lay flat to create a sleeping area, or can easily be removed altogether.
If you've been keen on the Element but felt it lacked features and polish, 2009 might just be your year. Painted metal fenders replace the plastic units, and finally navigation, USB/MP3 connectivity, and a backup camera are optional inside. The new front grille, bumper, headlights, and hood give the 2009 Honda Element an awkward Max Headroom appearance from head-on, replacing the original's Rubbermaid charm with something that seems to try too hard.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque propels LX, EX, and SC trim levels. Sending the power to the front wheels in all three trims—or all four wheels in 2009 Honda Element LX and EX models—is a five-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual. The manual shaves about $800 off the Element's purchase price but is only available on the SC and 4WD EX models.