The Element received a number of minor yet noteworthy changes for model-year 2009, including new infotainment systems inside and a number of exterior changes including a new grille, hood, and headlights that seemed to make the appearance a little crisper than before. However it lost a little of its Rubbermaid charm when the much-loved rubber-like front and rear bumper treatment was replaced with body-color bumpers.
Inside, the Element is best described as no-nonsense. There are lots of hard plastics, and even the cargo floor is covered with a rubberized, easy-wipe surface, so there's no pretending it's snooty or luxurious. Utility is strongly represented up front, even, with a tray-like shelf built right into the instrument panel.