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2011 Honda Element Review

The 2011 Honda Element isn’t as refined or upscale as most of its rivals, but few match its cargo hauling capabilities and rugged, versatile interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Easy-to-clean interior
  • Versatile cargo and seating configurations
  • Strong safety rating
  • Only seats four
  • Seats not very comfortable




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 7.2
Interior: 7.7
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.1
Safety: 9.7
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Honda Element Overview

When it was new, reviewers praised the Element for offering unsurpassed cargo carrying flexibility and lots of utility. It has a rubber floor that can be easily cleaned, and its back seats can be folded down or removed altogether to maximize cargo space. Unlike most SUVs, the Element can only seat four people, and its rear doors are rear-hinged suicide doors, meaning they can’t be opened without opening the front doors first, but this configuration creates a wider opening than conventional doors do. The Element also has a stronsafety score.

The Element is powered by a 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine, which most reviewers said feels plenty powerful for daily driving. Models with front-wheel drive net 20/25 mpg city/highway, which is mediocre for the class. All-wheel drive models average slightly less.

Inside, critics said the Element lacked the high-quality, soft touch materials found in other 2011 compact SUVs, but generally gave it a pass since utility, not luxury, is the Element’s primary objective. With the rear seats removed, the Element can carry up to 74.6 cubic feet of cargo, which is among the highest in the class. Still, some reviewers said that the seats, especially the two in back, weren’t especially comfortable. The Element comes standard with water-resistant front-seat fabric and a four-speaker CD stereo. Upgrading to the EX trim adds water-resistant upholstery to the rear seats and an upgraded stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack. A special pet-friendly package is available, which includes a soft rear kennel and pet bed, rear seat covers, an electric fan, bag dispenser and a spill-proof water bowl.

See the full 2011 Honda Element specs »

Other Cars to Consider

An alternative 2011 compact SUV you may like is the 2011 Subaru Forester. The Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive, and boasts a fairly spacious interior. It also has seating for up to five and traditional forward-hinged rear doors, so it may be a better choice for families.

Another alternative to consider is the 2011 Mazda CX-7. The CX-7 lacks the rugged practicality of the Element, but it does offer a greater level of refinement. It was also hailed by critics as one of the most fun vehicles to drive in the class, making it a top choice for driving enthusiasts.

Compare the Element to the Forester and CX-7 »

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