Very practical and useful car and at $22,500 (Had a Honda $1500 end of year discount and the dealer came down another $1600 or so), it's not too much cash. Yes, a BOX ON WHEELS. I always get looks from other ELEMENT Owners because I don't think many of them knew about the SC version. I didn't like the ones with the flat black fenders (LX) and the flat black bumpers (EX). The SC has no flat black body panels. I bought it new in late summer of 2008 and it was HARD to find an SC! There are 6 or 8 HONDA dealers within 20/25 miles of me and only 2 had SC's. And only ONE dealer had every color. The other dealer had ONE black and ONE blue one. That's it. I have 110k miles on the car and aside from a problem with the Throttle Position Sensor at about 80k, the car has been flawless. 110k miles and just that one repair (outside of the usual brakes, tires, battery) Seats are comfy, the doors open a full 90 degrees for easy loading and unloading, and with the rear seats removed there is quite a bit of room. THE AC is powerful as is the heater. The XM radio sounds great, especially with the 8 or whatever speakers this thing has and the sub-woofer up front. It's the newer 2.4 Liter engine used in the Accords and CR-V's with a TIMING CHAIN, not a BELT! That's a maintenance saver right there. Timing Chains rarely wear out. Just had new plugs put in at 103k miles and while driving out of Chicago on the Expressway, I just noted to myself that his car drives as good as it did when new. My original Honda tires lasted about 68k miles. My original brakes up front and on the rear last about 75k miles. I am still on the original discs with 110k miles but I suspect I'll need new discs in about 4 to 10 k miles and it may be time for brakes again. With the SC package and the wider, lower profile 18" tires it grabs the road good and corners well. Brakes could be a bit better. My last car was a 4800 lb SUV and it stopped better.
The only drawbacks I see are the ride, the MPG, and the quality of plastic used inside. I have the SC, which has lower profile tires, stiffer springs, and is a bit lower to the ground than the other Elements. So, not sure if the other models (EX and LX) ride better but the SC has a jarring ride at times. Where I live (Northern IL) the roads are pretty crummy. Lots of trucks and snow and salt. The Element SC seems to go over the bigger holes good but some of the smaller dips in the road are really noticeable. My wife's 20 year old Civic with 20 years old shocks has a better ride on the roads with these little dips in them.
I get about 23 MPG city and 26 on the highway. I am getting 1 MPG better or so than the sticker indicated but I would have figured a small engine like this would get a few more MPG.
Second, the interior plastic scratches quite easily. I have hauled a few things and it does not take much to scratch/gouge the plastic inside.
It only seats 4, which is sometimes a pain if my kid has more than 1 friend that needs to be brought someplace, that one has to sit in the front. But, on the bright side, the rear seats have plenty of room AND THEY RECLINE! My daughter loves reclining the seat a bit on long drives and relaxing.
The Vehicle Stability control is a joke. The SC only comes Front Wheel drive so this may seem like a valuable feature but and I'm able to maneuver and drive better in the snow with the VSC OFF.
I owned four Hondas before I bought the Element and like them all. The Hondas I owned were two Accords and two CRXs. The Element has too many blind spots, the clam-shell doors begin to squeak and rattle after a while, they blow around on the road when it's windy, fuel economy is not that great and when facing a head wind decreases even more. The windshield pillars are large enough to easily hide a mini van and even a school bus depending on position. Vision to the sides and rear suffer the same. I took it on several long distance trips and it proved to be not comfortable. It pitches and yaws enough to make you feel motion sickness. I eventually traded it for another Accord.
Rear tale gate can be used as a work bench. Rugged interior can be easily cleaned. Excellent for the dog because of rugged cleanable interior. Interior flexibility. It has a decent amount of usable space in it.
Cut down the height a few inches and increase the width few inches. Make them all, all-wheel drive. A removable top would improve its utility and make it more fun. The fun factor is almost totally missing in this model.
I purchased this car for my wife back in 2008. She was not good about cleaning her car, so something like this (no carpet or frills) was better for her. I ended up with is 2 years later because it gets a little bit better gas mileage then our full size Chevy Crew Cab with a V8. Real poor gas mileage for a 4 cylinder 22-24 MPG, and I am on the hwy most of the time. I would not buy another one, but it is real good to haul bicycles around; in fact, I have put 4 bikes in the back with the seats up. The thing is built like a tank, and like I said, very reliable. I now have 114,000 miles on it, and it runs like a top...An ugly one!
Rear seats flip to the side making a bunch of room for cargo.
Plastic / rubber flooring is easy to clean.
Seat material is easy to clean.
Rear tailgate lays down like a pickup, so lifting is kept at a low level when loading items in the back.
Gas mileage is poor for a 4 cylinder.
Ugly as heck!
Rear seat sits to high, and is difficult to see out the front window when riding in the back.
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!