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2003 Honda Element Review
Strange but compelling machine.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The Honda Element is a brand new vehicle for 2003 model year. It was first exhibited at the Detroit North American International Auto Show and received an enthusiastic response from youthful drivers. Due to this response, Honda gave it a fast track to production. A pre-production vehicle was introduced at the New York International Auto Show in 2002. It is not an average looking vehicle. It has a distinct, box-like style that strangely combines the body style of a Jeep, a Land Rover, and a sports utility vehicle (SUV) into one entity. Honda insists it has the best traits of a standard pickup truck mixed with an SUV. It is made in a pillarless configuration with four doors, which gives it a lot of cargo flexibility. Even with all this room, it only fits four passengers. This can be a bit frustrating for those who like the styling, but have big families. However, four passengers do fit along with a bunch of cargo. With everything the Element has to offer, it has the right appeal for Generation Y.
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Honda Element DX, Honda Element EX
The 2003 Honda Element is a completely new vehicle. It is perhaps the most adventurous model made by Honda in its history.
The 2003 Honda Element’s exterior is perhaps its most appealing feature. It looks like a mix between a Jeep, SUV, and a Land Rover combined, but it still sports a totally unique style of its own. The edges, for one, are a lot more curvaceous than what's found on any of those vehicles, individually. The doors are center-swinging, allowing for versatile loading in of cargo. The doors do not have a B-pillar, which prevents large items from getting stuck. The rear doors are hinged at the back, while the front doors retain your standard hinge orientation. The size is similar to the Pilot SUV. It comes with standard 16-inch steel wheels on the DX. Other features on the DX model include one-touch power windows, intermittent wipers, privacy glass, a rear defogger, intermittent rear wiper, and a manual rear liftgate window. The EX model gets alloy wheels instead of the standard steel.
The 2003 Honda Element is highly functional. The swinging side doors lead to a large and spacious interior that was built for hauling. The maximum possible cargo space is 74.6 cubic feet. All of the surface materials are easy to clean and vinyl mats are included for the floor. The Element is really designed for hauling sports equipment and cargo. Since it only seats four, it is not ideal for larger families. Standard features include folding rear back seats, power door locks, cruise control, a cargo area light, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and 12-volt power outlets.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Honda Element comes equipped with a 2.4-liter, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower. The engine is wed to a four-speed automatic or optional five-speed manual transmission. It comes as a front drive or Real Time 4WD. It isn’t just a pretty face; it also has a lot of versatility on the road. Although it is upright and tall, there isn’t any considerable body roll affecting the drive when going around corners. The handling is responsive and precise; no worries about numb steering here. However, the suspension is a bit soft, and the ride gets a bit rough when going over large bumps in the road. Performance of the engine is okay, but not spectacular. However, it should be just enough to keep its target market satisfied. Extra comfortable seating makes for a very pleasant ride all around.
The 2003 Honda Element is incredibly safe according to crash tests performed by the NHTSA. It received five out of five stars for passenger and driver safety as well as front-side impact safety. It also received four out of five stars for side impacts to the rear.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Big and versatile interior
- Optional four-wheel drive
- Great audio system
- Youthful design
You Won't Like
- Only seats four
- Automatic and four-wheel drive is sluggish
Strange but compelling machine.
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