Shopping for a new Honda Element?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Smoothness to make everyday commuting a pleasant experience
Acceptable, if noisy, passing performance
Easy to dart in and out of traffic
Kelley Blue Book
While the 2008 Honda Element certainly isn't a sporty vehicle, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com seemed content with the overall performance of Honda's small SUV. Although it did not excel in any particular field, there were very few, if any, complaints about overall performance on the Honda Element.
For the 2008, Edmunds writes that "all Honda Elements use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque." When it comes to driving impressions, reviewers at Edmunds find that the four-cylinder engine on "the 2008 Honda Element is no speed demon, but it does offer peppy performance, with enough smoothness to make everyday commuting a pleasant experience." Cars.com adds that "even with a full load of passengers," there is "sufficient oomph starting from dead stops." ConsumerGuide reviewers managed to achieve a respectable "8.8 sec 0-60 mph" time in a "manual transmission 2WD LX."
The singular engine option on the 2008 Honda Element delivers power to the road through either a "five speed-manual transmission," which is the standard equipment, or an optional "five-speed automatic," according to Edmunds. Both transmission options on the Honda Element receive generous reviews, and Cars.com writes that the automatic "pairs nicely with the four-cylinder," and it "holds gears a few moments long, allowing drivers to wring out a bit more power than they could with an early-shifting transmission." Those same reviewers at Cars.com also appreciate that, during highway driving, the "transmission kicks down with minimal delay, delivering acceptable, if noisy, passing performance." In terms of the standard manual transmission on the Element, Honda offers a "smooth, low-effort shift/clutch action" on its manual models, according to ConsumerGuide. All 2008 Honda Elements come standard with front-wheel drive, but ForbesAutos notes that "the front-wheel drive Element can be equipped with AWD for $1,400" on the LX and EX models; the Honda Element SC is available only in front-wheel drive.
Fuel efficiency tends toward average on the 2008 Honda Element. Cars.com characterizes the Element's mileage as "on the low end, but not drastically so, for this segment." The EPA estimates that front-wheel-drive Honda Elements with a manual transmission will return 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, with the automatic offering 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. For consumers opting for all-wheel drive, the numbers move to 18/23 mpg on the manual and 19/24 mpg for the automatic.
True to the overall theme of the Element, Honda has crafted a suspension that is ideal for all-around use. Kelley Blue Book reviewers "found it easy to dart in and out of traffic and take sweeping curves and sharp turns with confidence." Edmunds also appreciates the driving performance offered by the Honda Element, writing that "the steering offers positive feedback, and the wide track keeps the Element stable in evasive maneuvers." Reviewers at Edmunds add that "while the Element rides nicely enough, it has a stiffer suspension than most compact SUVs, especially on the SC version." Reining in the fun are the Element's adequate brakes, which ConsumerGuide says are "okay" for "routine braking," though "not all testers like Element's pedal feel."
The Honda Element's suspension, steering, and braking systems are all individually acceptable, but they can add up to an uncomfortable ride. ConsumerGuide writes that rear occupants "endure marked chop and thump over bumps," and while "front-seaters are more comfortable," the ride "still can be stiff and jiggly on patchy pavement and washboard surfaces."
The 2008 Honda Element’s performance is matched evenly with its city-minivan mission.