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 All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 166 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/24 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 (26 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Excellent for two

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

We bought our Element used with 24k on it. Overall we are quite happy -- only real drawbacks are as follows: 1. Rear access is a total pain in the a@#! We probably drive 80% of the time with the rear seats stowed -- this would not be a great family car (our kids are grown and gone) 2. Interesting lack of amenities on a top line model - ie., no auto unlock button on passenger door, no outside temp meter, intermittent wipers have only one speed. 3. Towing capacity rating is a joke -- is Honda serious about this or are they being hyper cautious? 4. Mileage is only so-so Still, it is like a storage pod on wheels and it is fun to drive. Also great with dogs (we have 2). A good buy overall for us.

My first suv-easy to clean

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

This was our first SUV and having a messy child and a dog in our family, the Element is a breeze to clean and to haul stuff, especially with the rear seats up. The interior is roomier than you think. Ride quality is rather spartan but not unexpected and the engine could use a little more hp. Gas mileage is lousy, I'm hoping for a hybrid version. I am 6'2" and find the driver's seat belt to be very uncomfortable on my neck. We have owned this car for 2 years and it has been the most reliable car we have ever driven. Quality seems to be excellent on our Element!

Love the toaster!

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

This was my wife and I's first new car. Got it initially because we have 2 great Danes and they grew out of our '88 civic. Was drawn to the safety features and the 2.4 L 4 cyl, since it has a timing chain and not a belt. We use Honda's synthetic oil and put a k&n air filter in it and have gotten 29 mpg (doing 65 mph) before. Most trips we average 23-26 doing 75 though. The 4 cyl. is punchy and I most always have plenty of power.

Second element, second car bought

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

I own a 2005 element ex awd which has a four speed automatic. The 2008 ex awd has five speed automatic which gets better gas mileage than a five speed manual. I average 20-21 on the 05 if I drive 80 to 85mph on the freeway. I averaged 24mph on a all freeway trip averaging 90mph driving from Columbus to Dayton.

Glorified junk

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

This is my last Honda!!! For the last 25 years I have bought them all (Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Subaru, Caddy...etc) but never witnessed a vehicle in this size to only tow 600 pounds? This means weak Transmission and lack of suspension support. They sure made it big enough to stuff whole garage full of stuff. Plus the sheet sounds like it was make of coke cans. The car is noisy and can't decide to stay in 4th or 5th gear. From what I know, all Hondas have this problem. WEAK and noisy. AWD system does not do so well compared to my Suby. The front wheel always slips during rain or snow and engages the rear tad late...what's the point. Prone to roll over. Complete design flaw

Best vehicle purchase

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

I bought my Element used with 21,000 miles on it and have since put 7,000 miles on it with only great news to report. My Element has given me a reliable and fun driving experience from day one. I've used the Element to go camping and haul all my equipment to evenings at the Drive-In theater. The AWD makes driving in the rain a breeze and I love, love, love the ride height of the Element. The water resistant seats and flooring have worked out nicely for my trips down to the beach with my 90lb dog. I enjoy my Element more and more every day and I can't wait for snow season to take the Element to the slopes for some snowboarding!!!

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


  • 19
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs