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Thread: Honda Element right for me?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Minnesota
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    28

    Default Honda Element right for me?

    I think I've settled on getting a Honda Element to use as my DD and weekend/long road trip camping vehicle, but I'd like to hear some opinions.

    Wants:

    • Good reliability
    • Decent MPG
    • AWD or 4X4
    • Capable on mild trails
    • Comfortable to sleep in


    I just want to be able to throw in my gear, and hit the road. It would just be my dog and I. I was thinking of a Gen 3 Montero or a Gen 2 Xterra for much better off road capability, but I'm not sure if I want to sacrifice the MPG. If the Element could take me to most of the good scenic spots out west, (live in Minnesota) I'd be happy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,997
    I think they are cool cars for what you describe. Just read about the lowest spot (gas tank?) and make sure it will clear what you need it to. Going solo and only gravel roads, I think it would be great.
    Jay

    www.jaycapers.com
    02 DC Tacoma with a Flippac and other stuff
    93 FZJ80 - stock but dual lockers and less than 200k miles

    74 FJ40, 91 Hilux, 98 4Runner, 98 Rav4, 02 Conqueror Compact Trailer - All Sold

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    120
    They have a cool pop top option available too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Elgin, IL (Chicago burb)
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    912
    Since you have stated mild trails I can see the Element being a decent vehicle for you.

    I've seen some interesting things out on the trails out west. Subaru's running White Rim Trail, Honda Civic on the trails near Ouray, Crown Vic on Hell's Revenge and Baby Lion's Back and an Astro van on 7 Mile Rim (he he mine).

    MSN Autos shows that the Element has 6.9" of ground clearance, slightly more than when my vans were stock and I was able to get them to some rather interesting places.

    For a bit more clearance CCM Offroad makes a 3" lift for the Element.

    img0372tk.jpg
    Last edited by ihatemybike; 01-08-2013 at 11:28 AM.
    Aaron

    1999 Blazer - 135k+, 31s
    1999 Astro (Green - Daily) - 225k+, 2WD, Alaska 2013
    1997 Astro (Grumpy - $250 Rally) - 335k+ orig engine, AWD, 2", 31s, rear LSD, $30 eBay fuel pump
    2002 Liberty (Eugene - Her Jeep) - 220k+ , 4", 32s, 4.10, back seat delete
    1980 KE100 (Bessie) - 100cc of fury
    Prev Astros: 86, 94, 87, 00, 97

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    NE Georgia, US
    Posts
    221
    Quote Originally Posted by ihatemybike View Post
    Since you have stated mild trails I can see the Element being a decent vehicle for you.

    I've seen some interesting things out on the trails out west. Subaru's running White Rim Trail, Honda Civic on the trails near Ouray, Crown Vic on Hell's Revenge and Baby Lion's Back and an Astro van on 7 Mile Rim (he he mine).

    MSN Autos shows that the Element has 6.9" of ground clearance, slightly more than when my vans were stock and I was able to get them to some rather interesting places.

    For a bit more clearance CCM Offroad makes a 3" lift for the Element.

    img0372tk.jpg
    I would drive it! Not a bad looking ride at all.

    Fuel economy is a huge factor for OHV. I have the Gen3 Montero and I have excepted that it is not the best on gas but I also chose the truck for it off highway use.

    Good luck on your choice!
    2003 Montero Gen3 - OME 2" lift, ARB Bullbar with 10,000# Warn winch, 255/85r16 KM2 (33")

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Theresa, NY
    Posts
    1,049
    I can't speak of how comfortable Elements are to sleep in (unless you want me to ask my 100lb Retriever/Aussi sheepdog mix) but as for the reliability, fuel mileage and AWB capability, it's a great vehicle. My wife is happier as a pig in poop over it, being her daily driver. Driving around the rural/suburban mix, our 2011 averages 20 to 21 mpg with a solid 24 to 25 mpg on long road trips. Although it hasn't been used "off-road," it does fine on the unplowed roads around upstate NY where we live. It's also a very utilitarian vehicle. It may sacrifice looks for utility performance, but it has utility in spades!
    The Barbie Rubicon!
    '07 Jeep Liberty KJ

    The MuTTT (Multiple Terrain Tactical Teardrop) Build

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Englewood, CO
    Posts
    4,850
    I briefly considered an Element to replace my old Outback wagon years ago but quickly nixed it for a few reasons: First of all, the clearance and approach angles are very low and the gas tank is one of the lowest points on the vehicle which IMO makes it marginal for any kind of off-roading. Second, if I'm going to give up low range and ground clearance, I ought to at least get decent MPG and 20-24 is extremely low for that kind of vehicle (My 04 Tacoma, for example, could run some very rugged 4wd only trails and still get 20-22 MPG on the highway and 18 in the city. Hell, my 4th gen 4runner can get 23 mpg on the highway if I baby it.) For 25-30 MPG I'd be willing to make the sacrifice but 20-24 seems pretty bad for a vehicle that small. And finally, I've never been a fan of Honda's "real time 4wd" system. As I understand it, it uses a viscous coupling and essentially keeps the vehicle in FWD mode at all times until and unless the front wheels start slipping and only then do the rear wheels engage. With the Subaru, OTOH, all 4 wheels are always under power, although the amount of power front/rear can vary from 90/10 to 50/50 depending on whether the wheels are slipping (this is on the auto tranny models - manuals are 50/50 all the time.)

    Not saying the Element would be a bad vehicle, just understand the limitations. If it got better MPG it might make a great DD or very light exploration vehicle. I do like the "big box" interior and the low-maintenance design, but I think if I had to pick a vehicle for such driving I'd end up with a Subaru Outback or Forester. The new Outbacks are huge and still offer amazing MPG from their CVT transmission. My brother's got a '10 Outback and on long road trips he can easily get 31-34 MPG. When you consider the size of the Outback that's pretty impressive.
    Martin KD0PHH
    2007 Toyota 4runner SR5, 4.0 V6. FJC lift, FJC black steelies, 255/75/17 BFG MTs & custom front bumper!

    I'm a million miles before you, I'm a million miles behind
    I'll take you straight and narrow, I'll ramble and I'll wind
    So curse my broken brimstone, or kiss my bricks of gold
    I'm not the reason - I'm just the road
    - Aaron Watson, "The Road"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Fort Collins, CO
    Posts
    387
    I have considered them because my wife loves the looks, but the mileage always kills the deal for me.

    We don't have sleeping in it as a requirement, so I never considered that when looking at them, but you can do better mileage wise with several choices from Subaru.
    Neil

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    1,070
    I think aerodynamics limit it's highway mpg. IIRC it has the same motor as the CRV.
    Steve Carlson
    1995 Isuzu Trooper LS

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    28
    Thanks for the replies everyone. At this point I'm pretty sure I'll get an Element. Yes the MPG could be better, but I'll be coming from a 2005 Powerstroke F250, so pretty much anything I get will be a lot better. As was said, I'll just have to understand the Elements limitations. I think I can live with it's limited off roading capabilities. If I have to park at the trail head and walk the rest of the way, so be it. At least I won't be sitting at home not living.

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