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2009 Honda Element Review

The 2009 Honda Element has lots of cargo space in its rugged, easy-to-clean interior. It isn’t the most refined family vehicle available, but if you need a 2009 compact SUV that easily moves more cargo than people, the Element is a good choice.

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable ride
  • Practical, easy-to-clean interior
  • Solid safety scores
  • Unsupportive seats
  • Not very powerful




Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 7.8
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.1
Safety: 9.7
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Honda Element Overview

When it was new, the 2009 Honda Element was praised for its unique interior that features lots of cargo space, rubber flooring and water-resistant seats. Its back doors are rear-hinged suicide doors, which can be handy for loading bulky items, but the need to open the front door first could be a hassle if your hands are full. Reviewers also said its boxy shape means it doesn’t handle that crisply, but it rides comfortably. It also has solid safety ratings.

The Element is powered by a 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine and either a manual or automatic transmission. Critics were somewhat underwhelmed with the Element’s power, but said that it is adequate for most situations. Buyers can choose between front- or all-wheel drive. Fuel economy for a front-wheel drive model with an automatic transmission is 20/25 mpg city/highway, which is not terrible for the class, but some rivals manage better. Opting for a manual transmission or AWD drops this figure slightly.

Although most critics said the Element’s cabin materials were decidedly not upscale, most said that the assembly quality was very good. They also said that there is plenty of passenger space in the front and rear, but the seats lacked support, and as a result, felt generally uncomfortable. With the back seats removed, the Element can carry up to 74.6 cubic feet of cargo, which is very good for the class. Standard equipment on base models includes water-resistant seats, an easily-cleaned urethane floor covering and a four-speaker CD stereo. Upper trims add features like a seven-speaker stereo with satellite radio, an auxiliary input jack, navigation, a backup camera and a removable center console cooler.

See the full 2009 Honda Element specs »

Other Cars to Consider

One alternative 2009 compact SUV to consider is the redesigned 2009 Subaru Forester. Reviewers praised the 2009 model for its larger size, smoother drive and more stylish look. The Forester’s seats can’t be removed and it doesn’t have an easy-to-clean urethane floor, but critics said it has a spacious and comfortable interior. The 2009 Forester does come standard with all-wheel drive.

Another alternative to consider is the 2009 Mazda CX-7. The CX-7 is at the other end of the segment, as critics said that great performance and handling are its top priorities. It lacks the ruggedness of the Element, but it is one of the more fun vehicles to drive in the segment.

Compare the Element to the Forester and CX-7 »

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