Even though the recent rise in gas prices leads more people to look into compact cars with high fuel economy, many still want a big vehicle with style. Larger vehicles do afford many perks over its compact counterparts. It has more room for passengers, more space for cargo, and increased power in its engines. It tends to have numerous luxury features as well. The 2009 Honda Element is a vehicle that is more for style and function than overall fuel efficiency.
The 2009 Element attempts at reviving the original interpretation of the compact crossover sport utility vehicle. The funky body soon became a common sight on the roads, especially in places that are havens for outdoor activities. Even though the Element is beginning to age as a vehicle, the 2009 version is still a great and quirky way to get around town and carry items to outdoor activities. The practicality of this model, in addition to its overall likeability and attractive low starting price, allows the vehicle, playfully known as a cube on wheels, to prosper despite the other types of crossover SUVs currently available.
Body Style: SUV
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual and five-speed automatic
Models: Honda Element LX, Honda Element EX, and Honda Element SC
Since the Honda Element has a basic design that generally pleases its drivers, updates for the 2009 Element are rather conservative. The exterior gets a refreshing upgrade in the loss of some of its plastic body cladding to create a more integrated appearance that favors the luxurious to the over-the-top quirky. That attribute was not the only item cut on this year's model; the rear skylight option was discontinued. Also, in terms of the exterior, the original grille is replaced with one more closely resembling the Honda Pilot in the form of an open square-like shape. For the interior makeover, technological features were added to the EX and SC models. Both now offer a voice-activated navigation system with the extra perk of a back-up camera.
The previous Honda Element models featured trimming around certain areas of the exterior in a dark gray plastic. These unique physical attributes helped to separate the box-like Element from its other crossover SUV competition. However, no one can deny that the plastic body accents were a bit off-putting to buyers who desired a vehicle with an interesting appearance that was still able to fit into the standard look of most other automobiles. The extraction of the body plastic on the 2009 Element is certainly seen as a step up and makes the body look more integrated and sleek. The new Pilot-style grille on the Element works with the natural contours of the vehicle rather nicely, despite the fact that the design was actually taken from another Honda crossover.
The Honda Element is rather large in physical size since it is a crossover SUV even though it is considered compact vehicle. However, the actual passenger capacity is only four people at most. The interior of the Element uses the extra space to add a sense of luxury and raw cargo space rather than focusing on the ability to haul numerous passengers. The lower overall passenger number also allows for ample space for the people riding in the Element. This fact is a great advantage for people sitting in the back as they have plenty of room to stretch out and have excellent front views due to the stadium-style, elevated seats. The base LX model has full-power accessories, cruise control, and keyless entry. The mid-level EX steps things up with a cargo-area 12-volt power outlet, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, and an audio system with MP3 compatibility. Meanwhile, both the EX and SC are newly available with a voice-activated navigation system and rearview camera.
Performance & Handling
All 2009 Honda Element models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is capable of 166 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, but a five-speed automatic is optional. Front-wheel drive is the common powertrain configuration, with all-wheel drive available on the LX and EX models.
Standard safety features for the 2009 Element include anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, brake assist, active front head restraints, front seat side-impact airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. In government crash test ratings, the Element earned a perfect five-star score in both frontal and side impacts.
EPA Fuel Economy
Honda Element, automatic front-wheel drive: 20/25 mpg city/highway
Honda Element, automatic all-wheel drive: 19/24 mpg city/highway
Honda Element, manual all-wheel drive: 18/23 mpg city/highway
Honda Element, manual front-wheel drive: 18/23 mpg city/highway
- Sleek power delivery
- Removable rear seats
- Spacious cabin
You Won't Like
- Awkward getting into and out of rear seats
- Unimpressive fuel economy
- Low passenger capacity
A highly flexible number of features and a very stylish design.
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