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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Ripped off from honda dealer

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Perfect "out of the box"

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Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element

I bought my Element new in February of 08. Two weeks later I made a 9 hour trip each way to Fort Kent, Maine on the Canadian border in the middle of a snow storm to photograph the Can Am dog sled race and she performed wonderfully. Driven her all over the North East and Mid Atlantic. Never had any issues with any weather. Easy clean, load her up and go. Not for those who want plush luxury. Dog owners, campers, hikers, climbers, bicyclists, surfers, Home Depot strollers, this is the vehicle for you. Fun to drive, reliable, very versatile and pretty comfortable. Tons of space for driver and passengers to enjoy. Best vehicle I have ever owned and the most fun to drive too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Excellent for two

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element

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

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element

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!

Elementary suv

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element

Bought used with 30K miles. This Honda is an extremely thirsty little SUV. In town I never got better than 20 mpg, 25 mpg on the interstate at 75/78 mph without AC was achievable with Super Unleaded Fuel, otherwise 23 mpg was more the norm for such an underpowered 4 cyl. engine that otherwise is very smooth and torquey at the bottom. The transmission gearing was poor as well, shifting hard and constantly between 4th and 5th back and forth at highway speeds. The 'no carpet' floor would be a great idea if it were rubber and not that hard slippery plastic. Horrible with bugs and rocks on the windshield as well as wind noise. Worst Honda I ever owned in terms of poor performance and fuel economy.

Love the toaster!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Honda Element

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.

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.

Talk About The 2009 Element

Read more about the 2009 Honda Element

Gas Mileage


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