Shopping for a new Honda Element?
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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
The Element LX and EX have a water resistant urethane-coated utility floor that quickly wipes down
its primary weakness is a lack of family friendliness
Ample room, but hard seat padding is not conducive to long-haul comfort
Build quality is excellent in the 2010 Element, as can be expected from Honda, but most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com point to compromised passenger comfort and interior materials that feel too basic.
While most other vehicles of the Element's size have five seats, the Honda seats just four, and the two backseats are quite small. A number of reviewers gripe about this, but it isn't the only complaint. ConsumerGuide appreciates the "ample room, but [the] hard seat padding [up front] is not conducive to long haul comfort." Edmunds touches on the capacity again; their "editors believe its primary weakness is a lack of family friendliness—there is seating for four people only and the backward-pivoting rear doors can be problematic when frequently transporting children."
On the positive side, the cavernous interior affords generous amounts of space, and Cars.com notes the availability of "103.6 cubic feet of passenger space...which [beats] its competitors." In the rear seats, ConsumerGuide reviewers love that the "leg room is ample even with front seats set fully aft," while Edmunds points out that the "theater-style rear seats provide plenty of legroom and visibility."
And of course, cargo capability doesn't get any better than what you have in the 2010 Honda Element, especially with such a small parking footprint. Versatility is the key here, and it's a word repeated frequently in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide points to the fact that, "with the seats suitably arranged, Element can tote a ten-foot surfboard or sleep two six-footers with the hatch closed," as well as the "useful 25 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the split rear bench, whose sections stow quickly but are difficult to remove or install." Edmunds says that the Honda Element boasts "a level of versatility that bests that of many other small wagons or compact SUVs."
The clamshell back doors earn a number of comments both positive and negative, with Edmunds stating that the "doors pivot backward a full 90 degrees," creating "an extra-large portal through which to easily load" various cargo items. The cabin also offers generous storage space, and Autoblog points to the "new three-compartment overhead console available" on the 2009 Honda Element.
According to a wide range of impressions, the interior materials are nothing special in the Honda Element, but assembly quality is top-notch. ConsumerGuide attests that the "cabin materials are utilitarian but show good assembly quality." Other reviewers generally agree, and Cars.com notes that the Honda Element "SC's dashboard is darker and less fanciful" than those on other Elements, as it features "piano-black trim around the center control panel and vents, as well as on the steering wheel." One practical element of the interior can be found on the floor, where Autoblog states that the Honda 2009 Element features a "water resistant urethane-coated utility floor that quickly wipes down and seat fabric that resists moisture" on the LX and EX, while the Honda Element "SC has a carpeted passenger area."
Cabin noise levels aren't as hushed as you might hope, though. ConsumerGuide says that "tire noise is evident on coarse pavement, and [the] Element's boxy design is subject to intrusive wind rush at about 65 mph."
Passenger comfort isn't a top priority in the 2010 Honda Element, but it succeeds in cargo-hauling and versatility.