Shopping for a new Honda Element?
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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
Unlike most compact SUVs, the Honda Element only accommodates four
Hard padding is not conducive to long-haul comfort
Hard, dimpled plastics feel too cold and trucklike
One look at the 2008 Honda Element reveals that conformity is certainly not what the designers at Honda had in mind, and traces of the Element's unconventional nature can be found inside the car as well.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the 2008 Honda Element is its seating capacity; Edmunds finds it very unusual that, "unlike most compact SUVs, the Honda Element only accommodates four." Despite the decided lack of capacity, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the four occupants will ride with plenty of room, though seat comfort could use some work. ConsumerGuide notes that the front seats of the Honda Element feature "ample adult-size room, but hard padding is not conducive to long-haul comfort." Reviewers at Cars.com write that while the rear seats "have flimsy, low cushions and little thigh support," overall "the legroom is impressive." Cars.com reviewers "much prefer it over the tiny backseat in Toyota's FJ Cruiser." Reviews are split when it comes to passenger room in the rear of the 2008 Honda Element, with Edmunds claiming that rear passengers have "plenty of room and high visibility," but ConsumerGuide counters by charging that "headroom and legroom are only adequate."
While reviewers disagree somewhat when it comes to passenger space, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com showed virtually no complaints about cargo room on the 2008 Honda Element. One of the biggest practicality measures of an SUV is cargo space, and with the Element, Honda has scored a huge hit in this category. Cars.com writes that "the seats can be configured in seemingly endless ways," including folded against the side windows, in order to accommodate different volumes of cargo, and "maximum cargo volume is 77.1 cubic feet," a number that puts the Honda Element ahead of nearly all its competitors. ConsumerGuide points out one interesting note about the design of the Honda Element: "with the seats suitably arranged, Element can tote a 10-ft surfboard or sleep two adults who are less than 5-feet-9-inches tall." Edmunds simply says that "cargo room is exceptional," and "the fact that its side doors open wide eases loading, though their clamshell design can be a hassle." Aside from rear cargo room, there is also ample storage space in the passenger cabin. ConsumerGuide finds "many cubbies inside the cabin, but none are covered or lined, meaning small items are exposed and can shift easily."
Although many aspects of the Honda Element are praiseworthy, one point of contention is the materials quality on the interior. ConsumerGuide writes that "assembly quality is Honda-typical," which has become synonymous with exceptional, "but Element's cabin is decked out with lots of hard plastic with unappealing texture." Cars.com reviewers agree, finding "little to like in cabin quality." One glance around the interior is enough to realize that, on the Element, Honda certainly wasn't trying to win any materials contests.
One important piece of the occupant comfort puzzle is interior noise levels, and on this count, the 2008 Honda Element receives lukewarm reviews. ConsumerGuide finds that "tire noise is evident on coarse pavement, and Element's boxy design is subject to intrusive wind rush at speeds above 60 mph." Edmunds confirms their opinion, writing that "the only thing detracting from the fun is the wind noise generated by the Element's boxy, tall body."
The 2008 Honda Element is—as its name states—elemental, which means interior materials are more practical than plush. Interior room, though, is excellent.