Well, my 2004 Honda Element EX (manual, and all-wheel drive) now had 143000 miles on it and counting. I have to say, I have owned or co-owned 20 vehicles in 25 years and the Element has quickly made i...
Well, my 2004 Honda Element EX (manual, and all-wheel drive) now had 143000 miles on it and counting. I have to say, I have owned or co-owned 20 vehicles in 25 years and the Element has quickly made its way to the top 3 overall. I love this vehicle!
First of all the sobering news - how much has it cost me. Well, it is an SUV with 143K, so you're going to have to replace some wear items at some point. I was proactive in my ownership. Not knowing what the original owner had done for service, I did the full 120K service at about 110K (tax refund available). All the fluids were flushed, filters changed, engine tune, etc. That cost me about $750 at my local shop. Smart move. I then drove 32K with no worries (did replace the tires - $550. At about 140K I started to notice a shimmy under hard acceleration. That turned out to be the CV joints (again, wear item). I had that done along with a new battery (mine was 5 years old) and that cost me another $550. What do I have to show for my $1850 invested? A 143K vehicle that acts as it did when it was driven off the lot new.
Seriously, if you commit to this vehicle and take care of it, it will take care of you. I knew I wanted to drive this to 200K and will easily do that at some point in the next 5 years. :)
Now for the good stuff. What makes the Element so awesome?
1. Interior room - it's laughable how big this little toaster feels. Nap in the car? No problem. Kids in the car? No problem. 4 people in the car? Crazy room and comfort. There have been plenty of times I wished I was the one riding in the back seat. Recline, stretch the legs out and WOW, your friend just fell asleep back there.
2. 5-speed - I realize this might be unique to me, but I love the feel of the manual. It shifts smoothly, gives you decent power on accelerations and up hills, and passing situations. Not for everyone, but it gives a feel of added performance over the automatic (I have driven an Auto).
3. All-wheel drive. This system is flawless. A blind monkey could navigate this thing through the snow. ABS, 5-star crash rating, AWD - enough.
4. Stock stereo - no need to upgrade here. Plug in the i-pod and let the ridiculous stereo do it's magic. Plug in a laptop and movie for the kids and run it through the stereo - theatre style surround sound. There have been times I have been distracted by the movie - is someone shooting at me??
5. Stagnant Element - what kind of a car is usable when it's not moving? The Element is. I bought the bench rest for the lift gate and have spent countless hours sitting on it watching the kids play, reading a book, waiting for a friend, having a beer with a friend, open all the doors (let the kids use it as a fortress), etc. Of course the #4 stereo is playing my music during this time.
6. Interior space - need to get something from point A to point B? Put the seats up (or take them out) and you have mini-van cargo capacity.
I'll stop at 6 for fear that some readers might think I have an unhealthy relationship with my Element. Bottom-line: BMW 535i, AUDI A4 & A6, 2 Jeep Gr. Cherokees, Land Rover Discovery, Isuzu Amigo, Honda CRV, Prelude, 3 Civics, Odyssey, Accord, etc., are all cars I have owned, but this is the one I find myself turning to time and again for happiness. It just does too much right to be wrong. I realize some of these cars don't compare with an Element in terms of car class. My point is, I am not immune to what a good car is supposed to be. However, I find myself most content with a car that was 6 years-old when I bought it, cost under $10K used, had 100K in mileage, and somehow has become my pride and joy.
If you're considering an Element, I still believe an AWD model is difficult to beat. Keep in mind it has room for only 4, and that there are some tight parking spots where the doors open too wide. It won't sip gas like a hybrid (I managed 22 mpg for the 45K driven), be quiet like a Lexus, fast like an Audi, etc. Yet, it is fun to drive, doesn't get bad mileage, is inexpensive to maintain, excellent in bad weather, and will give you a dizzying array of options for interior flexibility.
Again, just buy it already!