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2008 Honda Element Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Honda Element was new.

The Element ranks near the top of its class because it offers a distinctive and fun exterior design, comfortable front seating, and class-leading versatile cargo space. However, with somewhat uncomfortable back seats and occasionally awkward reverse-hinged rear doors, it isn't the best choice for buyers who carry many passengers regularly.

8.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 9.8
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Versatile, easy-to-clean waterproof interior
  • Best-in-class cargo capacity
  • Lowest overall cost-of-ownership in its class
  • Rear side doors cannot be opened unless front doors are open
  • Rear seats are uncomfortable for adults
  • Despite its huge cargo capacity, can't carry heavy loads

2008 Honda Element Overview

The 2008 Honda Element, virtually unchanged from the 2007 model, is a small SUV noted for a very good engine, the versatility of its interior, and its unusual, boxy appearance. "With its signature boxy, utilitarian shape, the 2008 Honda Element may not be the prettiest girl at the dance, but its incredible versatility, huge cargo capacity, and affordable price tag make it the car you just might want to come home to every night," says the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. With the reliability of a Honda, competitive pricing and very good long-term cost of ownership, the Element is a practical choice for many. But note that the emphasis in the Element's design is only in its cargo capabilities -- the rear seats are not practical for regularly transporting friends or family members.

A new cost of ownership concern emerging for small SUV buyers is the high cost of gasoline.  With gas prices setting records throughout 2008, it's worth noting that the Element doesn't place in the top half of its class when it comes to fuel economy. Still, it ranks within the top third of Affordable Crossover SUVs.

The Element comes in several trims -- the base LX, mid-level EX, and sporty SC. It comes with either two- or four-wheel drive.

  • "The CR-V-based Element is Honda's answer for the young and active and offers unmatched cargo versatility. It's so unconventional, however, that we couldn't really warm up to it, and it finished last in a comparison, behind a Scion xB, a Chrysler PT Cruiser, and a Chevy HHR." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Honda Element is a funky, fun little SUV that defies convention and is as practical as it is quirky. Its versatility will appeal to active, outdoorsy types who cart bulky sporting gear and go camping, as well as young parents looking for a practical and safe vehicle." -- Forbes
  • "Despite the Element's well-deserved reputation as a fun crossover vehicle for young motorists, a fair number of 30-somethings and baby boomers will take a good, hard look at the SC model. It has enough extras to please that crowd, and obviously, there's no law against having fun well into middle age." -- Sacramento Bee
  • "Element is a triumph of function over form." -- About.com
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