I purchased my Element brand new. It has really been good to me overall. the only problem I have is with gas mileage. I love my Element except for the mileage. It handles well and does very well in the snow.
After only 15,000 miles the authorized Honda service dealer has had me replace the battery and tires-- 15,000 miles. In addition, the exterior body is extremely prone to dings, as the metal is very thin. Dent Doctor franchisees love this car. This car has soured me on Honda.
If it is going to be made this cheaply, Honda should at least stand by its product.
It might look like a toaster, but inside it really is a Honda. Good build quality, though the materials seem plain or plastic, but that is what they are because the vehicle is all about being utilitarian. This vehicle really a swiss army knife that you can drive. The doors open wide (side loading). seats fold up and out of the way, and if you need to carry a 2X4 over 11 feet long, you open up the sun roof and stuff it in. Gas mileage at 24+ on the highway could be better. At first my wife hated my toy, however everywhere we go we seem to take it not because it rides the best it is OK, but a truck. We take it because you never know what kind or size of treasure she may find.
Ability to carry stuff, and ease of loading
Gas mileage, ride (replace the wranglers with BFGs)