2003 Element

Consumer Reviews

2003 Honda Element

$1,726 - $9,410  MSRP Range
2003 Honda Element

Review Score

4.7 out of 5 stars

4.7

47 Reviews
100% of drivers recommend this car
Score Breakdown
4.4 out of 5 stars Comfort
4.7 out of 5 stars Value for the Money
4.5 out of 5 stars Interior Design
4.8 out of 5 stars Reliability
4.2 out of 5 stars Performance
4.5 out of 5 stars Exterior Styling

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What Drivers Are Saying

1 - 10 of 47 reviews

4 out of 5 stars

Ugliest car you'll ever love

by Dave from Kansas on Thu Nov 15 2007

When my wife and I were shopping for cars, one thing we KNEW we didn't want was a Honda Element. Then we saw them giving a demo at the auto show. The interior captivated us with its wide entry, fold-away rear seats, carpet-less easily-cleaned floor, waterproof neoprene seats, console shifter, huge interior, and spacious headroom. When we drove it we appreciated the smooth-shifting real-time 4wd, antilock brakes, and crisp handling. We couldn't find one thing wrong except the blind spots in the rear. The car is smaller outside than it feels on the inside, and we have fit more into the cargo area than most people fit into a minivan. With time, we noted that the mileage is poor and the engine underpowered. However, due to a rear-ending where we sustained cosmetic damage and the other car lost a grille, bumper, and radiator, we now appreciate the safety and durability of its build. Oh, yeah, we don't think it's ugly anymore. It grows on you.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
3 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Does recommend this car!!

24 out of 24 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Great Car

by avant wagon from Island Lake, Il on Tue Mar 30 2010

123,000 miles and going strong. I have had no issues with this vehicle. I am a big guy, 6ft 5 300+ and feel very comfortable in my Element. I would recommend this vehicle to anyone I like. Nice job Honda!!

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

19 out of 19 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Love my Element

by Jerry from Greenville SC on Sun Nov 15 2009

This is my second '03 Element. I had a straight drive '03 and found this one EX auto for the same price. Sold the stright drive for more than I paid for it. Have had this car for 2 years and have 98,000 mile on her. She needs the rotors turned but that is all. Put a set of Bridgetones on her and love them. We moved a full size washer and dryer in her at the same time. Try that in a Suburban. Very practical and fun to drive car. I'm 67 and have yet to see a young person driving one. Honda missed the market but have a great car. So much for market research in California. Easy to drive and park, mileage is OK at 21 and 24. Blind spot does not bother me but does bothe my wife. I'd take her to CA and back right now with no reservation. Show me another car that is now 7 years old that retains 50% of the origianal price. Way to go Honda.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

17 out of 17 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

One of the Best

by Element Enthusiast from Cincinnati OH on Fri Jan 29 2010

After owning a Subaru Outback I was looking for another AWD vehicle when I came across the 03 Element. This vehicle is perfect for someone who needs light hauling (the occasional college student move) or wants the security of AWD in rain, snow or ice. This vehicle handles it all with ease.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

12 out of 12 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

SAFE!

by homehauler from Pittsburgh, PA on Fri Jan 09 2009

I had a 2003 Honda Element - silver, loved it, bought it used and had to replace the rotors, brakes and sway bar links at around 65K miles. Easy repairs and to be expected given the mileage on ANY car. Car performed GREAT. I was especially happy with the safety because i was involved in a serious collision with a large fuel truck due to some black ice. The car impacted and was thrown down a 8ft drop off the side of the road. Completely totaled but I walked away with just a bruised wrist. People were amazed I walked away alive at all. THIS IS A SAFE VEHICLE. My one grip would be that the AWD drive got my averaging around 20 mpg city and at best 24 highway (and that was ONLY on long highway trips) The space in the back is HUGE, I have fit tons of stuff for home and work in the back and the no carpet floors make it easy to clean. Good Car!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

12 out of 12 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Could not WAIT to get one!

by Doggie Mom from South Bay, CA on Sat Apr 16 2011

I read every review online regarding this car. Although this is the first year of this model, it appears as reliable as the newer versions. Gas-ok. I have the EX,2 wheel drive. My dogs LOVE the vehicle. I bought it for them. Will get a sunroof installed as it gets very HOT inside. Previous owner was very hard on this car as they used it for business (Interior quite scruffy)--and it is still a very good everyday vehicle. Acceleration good. Ride good although I noticed the tired are extremely worn--ad I looked at other elements parked tires. Seems these tires wear out on the outer tread--is this true for anyone else? So I am getting new and larger tires soon (any recommendations on brand?) Need to get ignition recall taken care of as previous owners did not.. I still have my Del Sol, used to have a CRX. I am "Honda" stuck. Would not change. (BTW-no car note!)

5 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Work

Does recommend this car!!

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Perfect vehicle for Montana

by EL-MT from Montana on Sat May 09 2009

This vehicle has been a dream to own. I've had nearly two years and I'm still in love with it. I live a pretty active outdoor lifestyle; I frequently fish, hike, backpack and travel. This vehicle is very easy to clean and keep clean (being able to hose it out is a myth. It easily hauls two people and all of their stuff for a long trip or four people for a day trip. I have carried four comfortably and their backpacking gear. I can also carry four large guys and all their flyrods, waders and other equipment for a fishing trip. As a daily driver my Element performs wonderfully. I never get tired of running around town in it. It is very fun to drive and handles great. It also has been great as a winter vehicle on icy/snowy roads. It is very secure on the highway, though you can feel strong crosswinds but they don't affect the handling. It easily cruises at 80mph and has no problem maintaining speed climbing mountain passes, even carrying four people. Finally I have to say that I have no reservations for buying this vehicle. I looked extensively at smaller 4x4 pickups and more traditional SUV's. As with many things the "new" and the style wear off with time, but with the Element I am constantly finding my self being pleased with this vehicle.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

LOW cost of operation

by Joe from Indianapolis, Indiana on Sat Jan 09 2010

I bought my 2003 Element EX 5-sp Manual new in Oct of 2003. I currently have 97000 miles on it. It has been a very low maintenance and highly reliable vehicle for me. My first daughter was born on the same month the Element was purchased and my second daughter is now 2 1/2. It went through 2 kids from birth and 2 dogs and the interior and exterior still look very close to new, mainly because it was been a very easy to maintain vehicle. I would STRONGLY recommend this vehicle to anyone who wants to have a highly functional and practical vehicle. I hauled many large items such as washer, drier, projection TV, etc; drove several 1000+ mile trips in all kinds of weather - with no problems. I paid slightly less than $20K new in 2003. It's still worth roughly $10K!!! Some dealers are asking for as much as $12500!!!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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3 out of 5 stars

Okay, But Gets Old.. Fast.

by Hobie from Laguna Beach, CA on Fri Apr 03 2009

I've owned this car since 2004 and I thought it was cool, funky, and safe. After the years it's had EXCELLENT reliability, but the interior really wears fast. All the plastic on the back seats that attach to the floor when you fold them up to the side the seat fell and the plastic is now cracked on both seats. If you don't really use the backseat, you go ahead and get it. The doors make entry and exit extremely complicated. The back seats firmness is very uncomfortable on long road-trips, the cabin's noise on freeway drives is annoying and loud. I looked up it's safety scores afterwards and realized that 2003-2004 had poor ratings on the side crash test. That scares me. The interior fit and finish isn't impressive. It's better if you get a 2005-2009 Element because of the safety factor and slight exterior styling revisions.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Transporting family

Does recommend this car!!

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Love my toaster!

by Family man Graphics guy, Honda Enthusiast from Dirty Lew, Maine on Sat Oct 03 2015

This is my 2nd Element. My first was a FWD. I currently own another 2003, this time AWD. I am anxious to see how this one handles the Maine winters! The Element is by far the most versatile vehicle I have ever owned, most of the time being a family, daily driver. But when I need to haul stuff, just flip up the seats, and its a small pickup. Cleaning the interior is a breeze, and there is storage upon storage, inside of storage, next to storage, with a little storage on top... You get the idea. The controls are all well laid out and easy to use, and the engine and transmission.... well, its a Honda, you all know thats fine. My element currently has almost 175k on it, and runs and drives like a champ, I am expecting to be able to put another 100k+ on this vehicle. As with everything there are some cons... 1.)THE FUEL ECONOMY (or lack thereof) MY GOD! I am lucky to get 250 miles on a tank (mostly city) I attribute this to the fact that it is automatic, AWD high mileage, and has the aerodynamics of a 3 story apartment building. It is comparable to my old ridgeline (3.5 V6) 2.) Some of the controls are not illuminated at night, makes setting cruise at night almost impossible. 3.) Sunroof in the BACK!?!?!? WHY!?!?!? And to add insult to injury: MANUAL CONTROL?!?!?!?!? REALLY HONDA?!?!?!? 4.) "Pop Out" rear door windows... to make rear passengers angry. These are little gripes, overall I am very happy with my toaster and would definitely buy another!

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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Our Take on the 2003 Honda Element

Few vehicles I have ever driven have resulted in so many people coming up to me, faces looking like they had just swallowed thumbtacks, belching out original phrases like, "that is sooo ugly."

Of course, Honda would tell you that the Honda Element isn't aimed at older buyers who like attractive cars.

Nope. The Element is aimed at members of Generation Y. (That's market-speak for those born between 1977 and 1994.)

Specifically, the Element is aimed at Gen Y active buyers, who Honda believes spend much of their time surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and playing hockey.

Since Gen Ys surf, snowboard, mountain bike, hike, kayak and play hockey, they don't work much. This... Read More