2007 Honda Element SC: First Drive

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I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a fan of the Element. When it came out in 2003 I thought it was strange — it just didn’t look like any non-concept car I’d ever seen. I did think the water-resistant floor was a nice touch, though. Then a funny thing happened. Lots of cars started to get boxy like the Element.

Now Honda is offering a new Element model — the SC — for 2007, and has upgraded the standard Element LX and EX. Although, when I sat and listened to a corporate presentation about the SC, I wasn’t buying that anyone in their ideal demographic, making $70,000, would plunk down $22K for a Root Beer Metallic (that’s actually the name of one of the paint colors) box on wheels.

But the more I saw of the other vehicles the company had on hand in black and silver, the more I liked it. Then I got to take the Root Beer SC for a ride.

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The first thing buyers should know is that the manual shifter is high up on the dash. When an automatic gear selector is in this spot it isn’t as big a deal, but when your right hand is constantly raised that high to shift, be prepared for a slight work out. Otherwise the SC’s lowered suspension, mated to a new 166-hp four-cylinder, is a nice improvement. This box on wheels now handles like a more aerodynamic box on wheels.

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For me, though, it wasn’t the handling that finally turned me around. It was that darn Honda practicality, improved interior quality and an abundance of cubbies that swayed me to SC fandom. The interior is also dressed up with nice piano-black accents around the vents and metal-trimmed knobs for the A/C. The metal was a nifty copper inside the Root Beer SC, and an all-black SC was trimmed in titanium. The tribal pattern stitched into the seats and door panels was only acceptable in the all-black model. Otherwise it was a little too over-the-top for anyone old enough to vote.

After an entire day of testing all of Honda’s vehicles, the Element SC was the lone surprise. I did find it a bit pricey, though, starting at $22,695. There’s also no four-wheel-drive version offered like on the other two Element trim levels.

I can’t see myself ever buying one, but at least now I’ll understand people who do.

The Details:

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Piano black air conditioning vent

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Metal trimmed environmental controls

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Tribal pattern

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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