The Honda Element has scored well in both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests since it was first introduced in 2003.
In its latest version, the 2008 Honda Element earns very high praise from both agencies. The NHTSA has awarded the 2008 Honda Element its highest rating, a full five stars, for both front and side impacts. The IIHS also bestows its highest rating, "good," upon the Honda Element, in both frontal offset and side impact tests.
When it comes to safety equipment, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com strongly approve of the standard features on the Honda Element. Edmunds writes that "you'll find antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control and stability control on every 2008 Honda Element," along with standard "front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags." Those standard airbags represent a critical new addition to the Element; Honda's previous versions scored poorly in side-impact crash tests if they weren't fitted with what were then optional side curtain airbags. In addition to these standard airbags and driving assistance features, Cars.com writes that the 2008 Honda Element also has "LATCH child-seat anchors embedded in both rear seats," which allow for quick and easy installation of child seats.
In addition to the multitude of interior safety features such as curtain airbags on the Element, Honda includes an electronic stability program on all 2008 Elements. An electronic stability program (often referred to as ESP) monitors the power being delivered to each wheel and cuts powers when one wheel starts to spin or lose its grip, which greatly reduced the chance of skidding out or rolling over.
One drawback to the wealth of safety features and exceptional crash-test ratings on the Honda Element is the decidedly average driver visibility. ConsumerGuide finds that while "the SUV-tall driving stance and short nose offer a panoramic feel," the "roof pillars slice into visibility aft and over the shoulders." ForbesAutos agrees, writing that "it takes many miles behind the wheel to become accustomed to the sight picture."