Entering its fourth year of production, the 2006 the Honda Element provides a sporty personality combined with versatile hauling capabilities, all wrapped up in a fresh, young body style appeals to more youthful shoppers. Its tall body and generous amount of cargo space make the Element an ideal vehicle for transporting whatever type of cargo you may have on hand. The ample interior space seems especially impressive when you realize that the Element actually measures shorter than the Civic coupe; its tall body shape and wide-swinging doors allow for easy storing and arranging of large loads.
While the 2006 Honda Element has been marketed largely towards a more youthful clientele, its relatively high price point likely puts off many young shoppers. Yet for those willing to make the modest investment, the Element offers plenty of fun, reliability, and possibilities to offer drivers of any age.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Honda Element LX, Honda Element EX, Honda Element EX-P
2006 welcomes a new trim level to the Element lineup: the EX-P. This trim looks essentially the same as the EX, but with the addition of body-color exterior panels. Meanwhile, the EX trim boasts steering wheel audio controls and new alloy wheels. The metallic exterior cladding that once remained exclusive to the EX now joins the LX, along with standard anti-lock brakes. Thanks to Honda’s new SAE testing procedures, the 2006 Element’s engine experiences a slight drop in power over older models.
The Honda Element features a tall, boxy frame with a prominently square nose. A bright palette of exterior paint options adds to this SUV’s youthful feel, making the Element one fun, eye-catching vehicle. The long list of standard exterior features includes power-adjustable exterior mirrors, privacy glass, a rear wiper, underbody protection, and a front air dam. Optional equipment includes fog lights, a running board, mud guards, and a tow hitch receiver. Steel wheels come standard on the LX, while alloy wheels mark the standard on the EX and EX-P and provide and option on the LX. The LX trim package also includes power windows and locks, while the EX provides keyless entry, and the EX-P offers body-colored exterior fender panels and door handles.
While its design only seats four people, the 71.5-inch-wide Element offers a generous amount of cabin space all around. The rear seats feature a stadium-style configuration, allowing for impressive visibility. One design flaw, on the other hand, concerns the rear doors’ inability to open without opening the front doors first, which makes it a hassle to climb in and out of the back seat.
The basic LX trim package provides power windows and locks, a practical urethane utility floor, folding and removable rear seats, waterproof front seats, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. The EX adds a cargo area power point, waterproof rear seats, front armrests, and a 270-watt audio system. Additional options for all models include a cassette player, a CD changer, a leather steering wheel, a cargo net, and a cargo area cover.
Performance & Handling
The 2006 Element gets its power from the same 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder engine as the smaller CR-V and also benefits from Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology. Both front drive and all-wheel drive configurations remain available and may pair with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. The Element’s engine produces 156 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque.
The Element feels as big and square from the driver’s seat as it looks from the outside, though its wide track offers plenty of stability and good maneuverability. On the other hand, the boxy roof can also create a distracting amount of wind noise. Steering feels responsive, and the overall performance seems smooth and spirited. While it won’t win any prizes for speed, the 2006 Element still serves as one fun vehicle to drive.
All 2006 Element models come standard with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. While the EX and EX-P models provide front side-impact airbags, no side curtain airbags are available–unlike in the CR-V. The Element also falls behind the CR-V with its lack of stability control. Other standard safety features include a vehicle anti-theft system, power windows, and power door locks. The NHTSA awards the 2006 Honda Element five stars in frontal-impact crash tests and five stars for both front and rear side-impact tests–although a higher risk of head injury has also been noted. The IIHS gives the Element its lowest rating of ?poor? in side-impact tests without the optional side airbags.
EPA Fuel Economy
Honda Element LX: 19/24 mpg city/highway
Honda Element EX: 19/24 mpg city/highway
Honda Element EX-P: 19/24 mpg city/highway
- Roomy cabin
- Waterproof interior materials
- Optional all-wheel drive
- Reliable handling
You Won't Like
- Only seats four
- Awkward entry/exit from rear seat
A durable, well-designed interior and cheerful handling, tied together with a fresh, sporty exterior.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Scion xB
- Kia Sportage
- Chrysler PT Cruiser
- Chevrolet HHR
- Suzuki Grand Vitara