2009 Honda Element SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Honda Element SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
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 Yes
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Honda Element

  • The 2009 Honda Element's versatile interior design continues to separate it from the compact crossover pack, but it's getting on in years. We still recommend it for those who will use its flexibility to the fullest.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Smooth power delivery, spacious cabin, removable rear seats, available four-wheel drive.

  • Cons

    Seats only four, awkward rear ingress and egress due to small clamshell doors, unimpressive fuel economy.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Honda Element receives a Pilot-style grille and loses some of its plastic body cladding. There's also an available voice-activated navigation system with a back-up camera on EX and SC models, and the rear skylight has been discontinued.

Full 2009 Honda Element Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Honda Element receives a Pilot-style grille and loses some of its plastic body cladding. There's also an available voice-activated navigation system with a back-up camera on EX and SC models, and the rear skylight has been discontinued.


One definition of "element" is a small but significant presence of an abstract quality; another is a substance or primary constituent that can't be broken down into a simpler form. Both meanings describe the spirit of the 2009 Honda Element compact crossover SUV, a back-to-basics interpretation of the compact crossover genre. Having made its debut way back in 2003, the Element's tall, funky-looking body has become a more common sight these days, particularly in regions where outdoor activities reign supreme. Despite its advancing age, this quirky but useful cube on wheels remains an appealing vehicular solution for the young and young-at-heart alike.

The Element has prospered due to its inherent practicality and likable nature, along with an attractive starting price just over $20,000. The boxy cabin has space aplenty for four adults (that's the Element's maximum seating capacity), and its cargo-van-style side doors open wide for easy loading and unloading of bulky cargo. To maximize utility, the Element's rear seats may be folded or removed entirely, and its hose-out textured urethane flooring makes for easy cleanup after a day of surfing or a week of camping.

For 2009, the Honda Element marries these friendly attributes to a mildly refreshed exterior with some new high-tech toys inside. Three Element models are again available -- the basic LX, uplevel EX and sporty SC -- with the latter two featuring an optional new voice-activated navigation system that includes a rearview camera and USB digital media connectivity. Enhanced interior storage is also on tap for the latest Element.

While the 2009 Honda Element is certainly worthy of consideration for shoppers in search of a versatile compact utility vehicle, there are other compelling vehicles that occupy this niche. Those looking for a similarly funky alternative would do well to check out the less-expensive Scion xB, and if you're open to more conventional designs with easier rear-seat entry and exit and greater seating capacity, the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester or even Honda's own CR-V might serve you better. Power is another consideration. The Element's lone offering is a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, while many competitors can be had with considerably more juice under the hood. The Element remains a solid choice, but it demands some compromises in return for its impressive versatility.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Honda Element is a compact crossover SUV available 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 sport-tuned SC is front-wheel-drive only.

The base LX comes with 16-inch steel wheels, a urethane utility floor, moisture-resistant seats, folding/removable rear seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry and a four-speaker CD audio system. The midlevel EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a three-compartment overhead console, a center console with a removable cooler/storage box, a cargo-area 12-volt power outlet, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a seven-speaker audio system with MP3 capability, an auxiliary input jack and satellite radio. Finally, the street-smart SC trim features a lowered sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, a custom grille, a monochromatic paint scheme with body-color bumpers and roof sections, passenger-area carpeting, an exclusive center console design, piano-black interior trim pieces, unique fabrics and copper-colored gauges.

Available on EX and SC models is a voice-activated navigation system with a rearview camera and a USB audio interface.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2009 Honda Element is equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a five-speed automatic optional. Front-wheel drive is the default configuration, while all-wheel drive is available on the LX and EX models. EPA-estimated fuel economy is somewhat lackluster by current four-cylinder compact crossover standards, ranging from 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined for automatic-equipped two-wheel-drive models down to 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined for manual-shift all-wheel-drive models.


The Element comes standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, active front head restraints, front seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The Element has earned a perfect five stars in government crash-testing for frontal and side-impact protection. It also received a highest possible "Good" rating from the IIHS for both frontal-offset and side-impact collisions.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2009 Honda Element seats only four -- a disadvantage compared to other compact SUVs -- but rear passengers enjoy ample room and excellent visibility thanks to the theater-style seating. Cargo capacity is also exceptional: With the rear seats removed, the Element can accommodate an impressive 75 cubic feet of gear. The Element's unique pillar-less access doors make side loading a snap, though their design can be a hassle for transporting people -- the front doors must first be opened before rear occupants are allowed in or out. This can be particularly inconvenient if the rear seats are used regularly.

Driving Impressions

The four-cylinder Honda Element won't win many stoplight drag races, but it delivers peppy enough performance for most daily tasks. The four-wheel independent suspension endows the Element with surprisingly responsive and agile handling, though its ride is noticeably firmer than the average compact crossover, especially in SC trim. At highway speeds, a fair amount of wind noise is produced by the Element's ungainly physique.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Happy overall

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Honda Element EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

Owned this car for a little over a year now and the experience has been a good one overall. It's fun to drive, It feels solidly built, and I've yet to have any mechanical problems with it. Is is fairly flexible, But don't expect to be moving any couches or other bulky items. It's deceptively short, and if you really wanna pack it, you've got to lose the rear seats all together, which thankfully is fairly easy. Yes they flip up, but they bulge a good bit which takes up space. Not to mention block all visibility out of the right / rear window (kind of an important one if you're a lane changer). My biggest problem though is that the paint is chipping/ spidering, and Honda will not help.

Love our element

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Vehicle: 2009 Honda Element LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

We really love our Element. We purchased the vehicle to make it easier to transport our dog (Samoyed). The removable seats in the back are perfect and the room once removed is terrific. The Element handles well in the snow (took it to Montana through multiple snowstorms during Thanksgiving week). Lastly, our boy Buck just loves his new car! Excellent choice for dog lovers and people needing some additional cargo room.

I smile whenever i get

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Vehicle: 2009 Honda Element EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

I have been wanting one of these since the first year they came out. I am not disappointed and would have taken the plunge sooner but my 97 Honda Odyssey just would not wear out. I finally passed it on to someone who appreciated it. The Element has it all - my dog agrees. Plenty of space, fun to drive, Honda reliability and goes thru the snow and ice in Wisconsin like you're driving in July. The clamshell doors are kind of a pain in a tight parking lot but you figure it out. The stereo system is great and the satellite radio rocks. I like being able to just take my bike at the end of a ride and roll it into the back end. The floor cleans up from muddy dogs with ease.

Element sc

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Vehicle: 2009 Honda Element SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

Recently purchased, put first 1K miles on her today. Overall excellent car, feels very safe. For only a 4 cylinder I am averaging only 20 miles per gallon. Interior is cheap for the most part, especially considering it is a $24K rig. Cheap plastic steering wheel, no ipod controls and no security system come standard, you have to add them as accessories. Wake up Honda and make these standard. Heavy orange peel in paint. Extremely vulnerable to chips. This is unacceptable for any modern vehicle.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

I love my element! :

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Vehicle: 2009 Honda Element LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

Just traded in our 2008 Honda Accord EX for the Element. I have to say I'm very happy with it. IT's very roomy and safe feeling. My children are 6'1" and 6'3" and they sit comfortable in the back seat. The seats have to be reclined some because my tallest sons head will touch the ceiling. The ride is smooth. You don't feel every bump in the road either like we felt in the Accord. The lights don't blink constantly like our Honda Accords did. My husband loves our new Element also. It's so much fun to drive. You won't feel claustrophobic. We have had a 2004 and a 2007 Suburban LT, a Chrysler 300 touring and even though they were more luxurious The Element is our favorite.

Very pleased

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Vehicle: 2009 Honda Element LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)

Looked at these when I bought my last new vehicle in 2006, finally bought one this summer. You will not be disappointed. Great utility, handling, looks. Comfortable unless you are in the back seat, although there is plenty of room there - just rough ride when sitting on the rear wheel well. Great stereo, fun to drive, good gas mileage. Wish I'd bought one sooner and considering buying another one since my daughter has hijacked this one! GREAT value for the price.

Talk About The 2009 Element

2009 Honda Element Discussions See all Started By

One for the dog lovers - Honda now offers a Dog Friendly equipment group option for the Element....

Not too many changes. Honda is thinking of just putting some cool stuff like a version of the Fit/CRV/Civic Navigation system in it. So the Element will go on for another year. Some other changes migh...

I don't know if everybody gets my experience with 2009 Element models, but here is my story....

Read more about the 2009 Honda Element

Gas Mileage


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