2010 Honda Element

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2010 Honda Element. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Cargo versatility
  • Safety features
  • Backseat room

The Bad

  • Blind spots
  • Modest highway acceleration

Notable Features of the 2010 Honda Element

  • Roomy, functional interior
  • FWD or AWD
  • Sport-tuned SC variant
  • Optional navigation system
  • Optional backup camera

2010 Honda Element Road Test

David Thomas
Not every car shopper is looking for a built-in dog kennel and other canine-friendly accoutrements in their next compact SUV. But for that small niche of dog owners who are, there's only one real option: Honda's Element with its new Dog Friendly Package.


A simple $995 add-on to the LX and EX (the sportier SC can't be equipped with it) transforms the Element into a dog taxi with no rival.


We last reviewed the Element in 2008, when it received its last significant update. You can read that review, which tackled the SC trim, here, or check out a comparison of the 2010 and 2009 models here.

What Is a Honda Element?
The Element is a bit of an aging design, and that shows in its somewhat-cheap-feeling interior, which isn't up to snuff with more modern Hondas. The boxy shape, though, is a utilitarian's dream. The fold-to-the-side rear seats allow for a truly flat floor that's great for weekend athletes' bikes or other gear, as is the plastic floor itself.


If you're camping, the front and rear seats fold down to form a makeshift bed.


It's this type of Transformers-like action that makes the Element an endearing car despite its somewhat anemic four-cylinder engine, which is less powerful and less efficient than the four-cylinder in the Honda CR-V. Comparable trims of the CR-V cost about $1,000 more than the Element.


You'd have to be someone who would take advantage of the Element's unique interior layout or smaller size ...

Not every car shopper is looking for a built-in dog kennel and other canine-friendly accoutrements in their next compact SUV. But for that small niche of dog owners who are, there's only one real option: Honda's Element with its new Dog Friendly Package.


A simple $995 add-on to the LX and EX (the sportier SC can't be equipped with it) transforms the Element into a dog taxi with no rival.


We last reviewed the Element in 2008, when it received its last significant update. You can read that review, which tackled the SC trim, here, or check out a comparison of the 2010 and 2009 models here.

What Is a Honda Element?
The Element is a bit of an aging design, and that shows in its somewhat-cheap-feeling interior, which isn't up to snuff with more modern Hondas. The boxy shape, though, is a utilitarian's dream. The fold-to-the-side rear seats allow for a truly flat floor that's great for weekend athletes' bikes or other gear, as is the plastic floor itself.


If you're camping, the front and rear seats fold down to form a makeshift bed.


It's this type of Transformers-like action that makes the Element an endearing car despite its somewhat anemic four-cylinder engine, which is less powerful and less efficient than the four-cylinder in the Honda CR-V. Comparable trims of the CR-V cost about $1,000 more than the Element.


You'd have to be someone who would take advantage of the Element's unique interior layout or smaller size — it's 10 inches shorter than the CR-V from bumper to bumper — to consider a purchase.

What Makes an Element Dog-Friendly?
Or you could be a dog nut. Now, the typical dog owner would be just as happy buying one of the many wagons or crossovers on the market that are available with optional dog gates to keep their four-legged friends in the cargo hold. That's most of us.


Others, well, they may have a dog who needs the serenity of the bolted-in, soft-sided dog kennel that comes in the Element's Dog Friendly Package. It's a very well-designed kennel with a deeply recessed water bowl (so it won't splash on the dog bed) and a built-in fan that keeps air circulating in the cargo area.


To my mind, this is the one stand-out feature of the package. My dog, Roxy — a 6-year-old Boxer — normally can't stand soft-sided kennels. She has a metal crate at home for when we're out, and she likes that just fine. When hopping into the Element, though, she seemed as comfortable in its soft-sided kennel as in her own. There is see-through mesh on the kennel, but its skeleton is more substantial.


There's a metal ramp that stows under the kennel for dogs who are unable to jump onto the lower tailgate. However, the dog won't be able to look out the windows from this vantage point once the tailgate is closed, as the crate sits below the windows. I really liked the Element's clamshell tailgate, too. The lower edge stuck out about 2 feet, which was the perfect distance for Roxy to jump up on and get into the kennel, but not so big I couldn't reach over it easily.


The second row gets a custom, removable seat cover that's water/dirt/drool/mud/fur-resistant and has little doggie logos on it. However, with the rear kennel bolted in, the rear seats can't fold to the side. This really hurts the potential utility of this vehicle; if you're planning to transport just yourself and your dog, or even one other passenger, an opened-up backseat area would be ideal for cargo, given the kennel will be taking up the traditional cargo area.


Dog owners with multiple dogs can buckle at least two more dogs into the rear seats using special dog harnesses — not part of this package, but readily available at pet stores — that attach to the seats.


Add dog-bone-adorned rubber floormats for both seating areas, and that completes the Dog Friendly Package. Does that seem worth $995?


I think it does, but only for potential buyers who fit into this overly dog-friendly niche.

Performance
As I mentioned earlier, the CR-V is a far superior vehicle if you're looking for a compact SUV and don't need such unique digs for your dog. The Element does offer a very high seating position with a rather low step-in height, which is nice for drivers who have a hard time getting into taller SUVs.


The driving experience is pedestrian. The 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine is buzzy, acceleration is dreadful, and there's a lot of wind noise — you are driving a box, after all — as well as road noise compared to newer competition and the CR-V.


Handling is surprisingly good for a tall, boxy design, and there isn't as much body lean as you might expect. Otherwise, there are so many truly exceptional compact SUVs on the market — CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Chevy Equinox — that it would be hard to recommend the Element on its driving chops alone.


Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

Safety
The Honda Element is one of just four small SUVs to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick Award for 2010. To get that rating, vehicles must score the top grade, Good, in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as a new roof-strength test.


The Element also includes standard stability control and seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger.

Element in the Market
It's safe to say that if you're hoping to win a ribbon at Westminster, you're the perfect person to buy this specialized Honda. For those who just occasionally tune in to dog shows on TV, however, this is likely overkill.

Send David an email 



2010 Element Video

Cars.com's Dave Thomas and his dog Roxy take a look at the 2010 Honda Dog Friendly Element.

Latest 2010 Element Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.2)
Performance
(4.1)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.1)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Best car ever.

by elizzabethmarie from Allentown, PA on June 7, 2018

Super utilitarian but still very comfortable. Never heard of a more reliable car! It?s never given me an issue, even with 225K on it. If you?re looking for a vehicle with space, for camping, or just a ... Read full review

(5.0)

I would leave my family for this car

by 50cent from Burlington, VT on April 18, 2018

It’s fun, it’s reliable and it’s super spacious. I love how the seats fold up, gives some extra storage and my dog lays on her bed comfortably in the back. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2010 Honda Element currently has 6 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2010 Honda Element LX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Honda
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Less than 6 years old/less than 80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles

  • Powertrain warranty

    7 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    182-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Element received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker