2008 Honda Element SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Honda Element SUV

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Honda Element Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 166 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Honda Element

  • With its box-shaped interior, wipe-clean floor and removable seating, the 2008 Honda Element offers plenty of practicality at a reasonable price. However, its utilitarian wrapper may put off buyers for whom SUV ownership is as much about style as it is about functionality.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Smooth engine, nimble handling, spacious interior, optional all-wheel drive.

  • Cons

    Only seats four, clamshell rear doors complicate entry/exit for rear passengers.

  • What's New for 2008

    After a major update last year, the Honda Element returns for 2008 unchanged.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (10 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

Ripped off from honda dealer

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

I'm sorry to say that I didn't do my homework with this car! So, shame on me. However, I was told by the Honda Service Dept that all Honda Heaters don't and won't shoot heat down on to your feet when you point the heater control to feet and defroster! Also, the brakes stick and that seems to be the norm! Anybody else have these issues! Thank you. Major blind spot because of the doors! I would love to return the car!

Love it

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

We bought the SC and have gotten lots of compliments about its looks. It's very versatile. It's a lot of fun to drive. It handles great for its shape. It has a great sound system and it's a killer tailgating machine. We purchased the legs for the built in table and it works great. We've put over 10,000 on it and loved every mile.

A buckboard with short range

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

...and bad gas mileage. Admittedly moving from an '04 BMW X3 was a questionable decision. But at lease turn back they wanted $3k more for the 04 than we paid for the 08 Honda. We were looking for a smaller carbon footprint. The BMW spewed 20 pounds per 15k miles where the Honda 6 pounds. We were not expecting the poor gas mileage (it is a shoebox but still). The absolute biggest pain is the range, it has a small tank, you would think they could find room for a little bigger gas tank.

Don't replace a bmw with

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

I thought the ride was buckboard with the 04 X3 but this sc is STIFF. Goes around corners better than the minivan character of the regular models but rear seat passengers need kidney belts. This is "she who must be obeyed"s and she doesn't complain but has mentioned the stripped down features coming from her X3 (no automatic lights or turn down passenger parking mirror bugs her). Really we wanted a smaller footprint (carbon and fuel economy) but this is only getting 19 mpg on a good day and the X3 was 17-18mpg. 6 pounds of pollution per 15k miles for the Honda and 15 pounds for the X3. My biggest beef is the short range, especially for a brick with bad fuel economy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Root beer rules

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

I wanted a more versatile vehicle than the sedans I've driven for years, but didn't want a truck-based SUV or minivan. I've owned several Accords and a Civic -- all great cars -- but after buying a house, needed something to haul stuff on occasion. This well-handling and peppy vehicle fit the bill perfectly. I've been looking for something like this for years. Bought the SC model because I really don't need 4WD, and also really liked the Root Beer color which is only available on the SC. It sits lower on larger tires than the EX or LX. It really makes the car sleeker-looking, and improves the handling. Love this car, and expect to keep it for a long, long time. Fits all needs.

My sc

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

I work for Honda. i had my choice of any of the models that Honda has. I chose the element for many reason. Looks, style, diverse interior, upscale interior are just a few. I can honestly say that after 6 months I am still as happy as i was the day i bought it.

Full 2008 Honda Element Review

What's New for 2008

After a major update last year, the Honda Element returns for 2008 unchanged.


Upon its debut in 2003, the Honda Element was a novelty among compact crossover SUVs. Its chunky body, tall profile and surprisingly stubby dimensions set it apart on the road, and its suicide rear doors were downright daring. While this quirky cube-on-wheels has had limited appeal for the young, active types Honda originally hoped to attract, the Element has proven rather popular among a slightly older crowd of buyers.

A likely reason for the Element's steady sales is its practicality. Its cabin is notably spacious for adults in both rows. In addition, its side doors open to form a huge portal for easy loading of bulky objects, and its rear seats can be configured in multiple ways, or removed entirely. Urethane flooring allows easy clean-up with soap and water after a day at the beach.

Underneath, the Honda Element's mechanicals closely resemble those of other compact crossover SUVs -- no surprise, given that its platform is shared with the previous-generation Honda CR-V. As a result, the Element delivers decent power and friendly fuel economy, and handles nimbly on its all-independent suspension. Performance is respectable all-around, and its driving experience is pleasantly carlike.

The 2008 Honda Element represents the sixth year of this small SUV's model cycle. Although Honda's funkiest vehicle has aged well, we'd also suggest checking out newer rivals like the Scion xB and Toyota FJ Cruiser, both of which make more of a styling statement these days. In addition, the Scion has a much lower price tag and is apt to be a bigger draw for twenty-somethings paying off college loans. Practical-minded shoppers would also be wise to investigate the Element's more conventional competition, including the Ford Escape, Jeep Patriot, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota RAV4 and even Honda's own CR-V. Their normal doors make entry/exit an easier affair, and all of them have an extra fifth seat (and in a few cases, a sixth and seventh) and a longer list of available amenities. Some also offer V6 engines with considerably more power than the Element's four-cylinder.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Honda Element is a compact crossover SUV. It comes in three trim levels: LX, EX and SC. The Element LX and EX are available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations, while the SC is front-drive only.

The LX comes with 16-inch steel wheels, an easy-to-clean urethane utility floor, removable and folding rear seats, waterproof front seats and a driver-seat height adjuster. Other standard amenities include air-conditioning, full power accessories, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, 100-watt CD stereo and keyless entry. The EX adds alloy wheels, body-color fenders and door handles, a cargo area-mounted power point, waterproof rear seats, a 270-watt audio system with MP3 capability, an auxiliary jack, satellite radio and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Finally, the sporty SC trim has a lowered sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, projector beam headlights, body-colored bumpers and roof, and copper-colored gauges. All-wheel-drive Elements come with a removable rear sunroof.

Powertrains and Performance

All Honda Elements use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional.


You'll find antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control and stability control on every 2008 Honda Element. Front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are also standard. In crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Element earned a perfect five stars for frontal-impact protection. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Element a top score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

Unlike most compact SUVs, the Honda Element only accommodates four. However, its stadium-style seating rewards rear passengers with plenty of room and high visibility. Cargo room is exceptional; unlike most competitors, the Element's rear seats can be removed, allowing it to swallow 75 cubic feet of cargo. The fact that its side doors open wide eases loading, though their clamshell design can be a hassle. Opening the rear doors entails first opening those in front. This means that front passengers are forced to open their doors to allow people in or out of the rear seating area. Dropping off kids curbside without a front passenger to open the door can be particularly irksome. On the plus side, the seat-mounted front seatbelts added last year are more user-friendly than the previous B-pillar-mounted setup.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Honda Element is no speed demon, but it does offer peppy performance, with enough smoothness to make everyday commuting a pleasant experience. The steering offers positive feedback, and the wide track keeps the Element stable in evasive maneuvers. The only thing detracting from the fun is the wind noise generated by the Element's boxy, tall body. Also keep in mind that while the Element rides nicely enough, it has a stiffer suspension than most compact SUVs, especially on the SC version.

Talk About The 2008 Element

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs