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As I started looking back at minivans again, I've found there are far fewer to compare this year. So, I'm continuing the series on "minivan replacements," or other vehicles that do a great job of moving the family about in comfort. And sometimes with much more style than a minivan ever could. The 2009 Honda Element and 2009 Scion xB both do a great job at replacing an aging minivan, provided you're seating five people or less.
Of course, there are drawbacks with choosing a boxy, upright vehicle like the Element or xB. The first thing I spotted with these vehicles is the 18 to 25 miles-per-gallon rating. The Element ranges on the lower end, and the xB captures a few miles per gallon more. And the review at The Car Connection points out that many people don't like the seating itself, making it uncomfortable for the family road trip.
The Honda Element has four doors, but if you've never seen one up close, you may not realize that the back doors are dependent on the front doors -- you can't open the back doors until the fronts are open. That is something I could get used to after a bit. Honda does boast 64 unique seating configurations. I really don't see the need for all 64, but maybe I'm missing something. Flower Day at the market, though, does sound much easier now.
The Scion xB is about $5k cheaper than the Element, depending on what options you want. The Car Connection is a huge fan of all the safety features in the xB. Since I'm a safety fan, that makes me very happy. When I saw the xB at the South Carolina Auto Show, the rear cargo space didn't impress me, but it does intend to hold five passengers, while the Element will only hold four. Again, reviewers complained about the seats in the xB just about as much as in the Element.
After bouncing back and forth between The Car Connection reviews on the Scion xB and the Honda Element, my head started spinning a bit. These two vehicles are eerily similar. They both offer incredible flexibility in how they hold rear passengers and cargo, which is very reminiscent of the removable seats in my old minivan. With the standard two kids, either vehicle would hold the whole family and luggage, camping gear or sports equipment.