Weeklong Test: Honda Element 4WD EX With Dog Friendly Package

January 6, 2010
The notion of family is a funny thing. It can be a husband and wife with their 2.3 children just as easily as it can be an out and proud gay man and his 6 year old, recently adopted Boxer dog named Daisy Mae. So to honor the health and well being of the often times overlooked canine family member Honda has introduced the Dog Friendly Package for 2010 in its strong selling Honda Element.

Available only on EX models (because the rear seat doggie cooling fan uses one of the rear power plugs that only come on EX models), the Dog Friendly Package is installed by dealers and includes features like a built in dog crate designed by the same company that designs seat belts for Honda. It is made of a soft mesh material that can help soften the impact should the dog be thrown forward in a hard impact. Isn't your dog's safety worth $995?

But that's not all you get for your money. There is also a built in spill proof water bowl by the dog bone logo embossed bed in the mesh crate, a lightweight ramp that conveniently stores right under the crate, the aforementioned doggie cooling fan by the crate, special removable (and machine washable) dog bone logo seat covers and lastly a Dog Package tote bag replete with leash, collar and Dog Package waste bag dispenser. If you are wondering if the dog bowl really is spill proof I just filled it up and went around corners far too fast and nothing spilled (no dogs were in the car during this test so don't worry).

Besides some small Dog Friendly logos on the side and rear of the car the vehicle looks pretty much like any other Element. The particular model that I have been loaned for a week is bright orange and while I feel a bit like I should be hauling around The Partridge Family in the back it seems to really suit the happy character of this vehicle.

Powered by a surprisingly peppy 2.4 liter 4 cylinder, the Element is never left wanting for get up and go on city streets or during freeway overtaking maneuvers. That is surprising considering this is not the most aerodynamic vehicle ever made. But that is half of its charm. And part of the reason why it feels so immensely huge on the inside. In fact the Element might have a bigger interior than a studio apartment I once rented.

In your life family may include parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, nieces, uncles and nephews, dogs, cats, ferrets, parrots and yet even more friends whose lack of blood relation have nothing to do with how revered they are in your heart. And no matter how they may all act during the holidays you should never lose sight of the fact that they have value.

And that is really what the Element with Dog Friendly Package is all about. Treasuring everyone you have in your life and giving them a home. Yes, this Honda Element is like a big orange colored house of love on wheels.

2010 Honda Element EX 4WD: ($23,885)

(Dog Friendly Package (Dealer Installed): $995 additional)

Engine: (2.4 liter 166 horsepower 4 cylinder)

Economy: (19 city/24 highway)

0-60: (About 10 Seconds but Feels Plenty Quick for a Big Box)

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