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About the 2005 Honda Element SUV

By Jason Fogelson

3 of 3

On the Road in the Honda Element
2005 Honda Element

2005 Honda Element

© Honda Media
I felt at home driving the Element. Power delivery is smooth and efficient. You’re not going to win many stoplight showdowns with the 160 hp/161 lb-ft of torque from its inline four cylinder engine, but you’ll have no trouble merging onto the freeway. All the horses are working. With the five-speed manual transmission, the clutch is light and easy to manage. The truck-like positioning of the shift knob, sprouting from the middle of the center dash console, is easy to adapt to. It falls easily to hand, and the smooth action of the transmission makes manual operation a breeze, devoid of annoying notchiness or rubbery feel. The Element handles predictably and well, rides smoothly and has a sharp turning radius. It’s easy to park, has great visibility in all directions, and is quieter than its looks give you any reason to expect. In high wind or on the open road, you will encounter significant buffeting, as the aerodynamics of the Element are only slightly better than your average cardboard box. This is a car for everyday driving, not cross-country highway trips. As a grocery-hauler and errand runabout, it’s hard to beat. With the rear seats folded up and away, the open space begs to be filled with flea market finds and piles of junk.

Bottom Line

My girlfriend has already decided that her next new car will be an Element, and I won’t try to talk her out of it. I will encourage her to look at the competition: The Nissan Xterra, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the Scion xB, the Saturn Vue and others. Some of the competitors offer greater gas mileage than the Element’s 22 city/26 highway EPA estimate. Some offer better performance.

In terms of style, it’s a matter of taste. I love the retro PT Cruiser, hate the bland Vue, and laugh at the macho Xterra. The Scion xB and Element fall into the same quirky styling class, but the Element’s greater utility makes the look more genuine, less of a pose.

Even though the Element is ruggedly built, you still need to take care of it. Though the Element I drove had only 5,000 or so miles on the odometer, the floor under the gas pedal was already showing significant wear -- a good set of floor mats would help avoid that. The painted surfaces on the exterior of the Element need the same care as any other car’s, and the composite surfaces need to be kept clean to avoid discoloration and pitting.

Sometimes you have to think outside the box. Then again, thinking inside the box can result in a pretty great box. The Element is the thinking person’s box.

See the 2005 Honda Element Photo Gallery for more pictures of the Element.

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