2006 Honda Element Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious, waterproof interior, optional all-wheel drive, smooth four-cylinder engine, balanced handling, standard ABS.
  • Only seats four, clamshell doors hinder entry/exit for rear-seat passengers.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$2,885 - $5,092

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Intended to accommodate the lifestyles of the young and active, the 2006 Honda Element is a spunky small SUV with a thoughtfully designed interior wrapped up in a unique shell.

Vehicle overview

Honda is a company that does its homework and usually doesn't bring a product to market until it's fully developed and ready to make a serious dent in the competition's sales. All the vehicles in their lineup are desirable products that are well regarded and need little explanation. But drive a Honda Element, and you will likely be overwhelmed by questions by other motorists. What is it? Who makes it? What does it do? Now in its fourth year, the Element SUV is geared toward young and very active Generation-Y types who want an affordable vehicle that offers flexible cargo-hauling ability along with a sporty persona.

The 2006 Honda Element is chock-full of features that make it easy to take the mountain bikes to the trailhead, the surfboard to the waves or the 27-inch TV to the dorm or apartment. Riding on a wheelbase of just 101.4 inches and measuring only 166.5 inches in overall length, the Element is compact, yet the space inside makes it hard to believe that the Element is actually shorter in length than a Civic coupe. The secret is in having a tall body (at 74 inches, 8 inches taller than a CR-V), which allows the seats to be higher, providing plenty of legroom. By having no B-pillar and allowing the doors to swing open wide (the fronts open up 78 degrees and the rears pivot a full 90 degrees), a 55.5-inch-wide portal allows bulky items to be loaded with ease. The typical problem with this sort of design is that it usually makes for a weaker body structure, but Honda says it more than compensated for the lack of a traditional B-pillar by, in essence, hiding one in each rear door as a reinforced vertical brace.

Sounds great, but are Generation-Y surfers really going to cough up a sum around $21,000 just so they have something new to carry their surfboards? Or, are they just going to keep their ratty compact pickups and spend their cash on new video game releases? The latter has always seemed more likely to us, and so far, typical Element buyers have tended to be far older than Honda's targeted Gen-Y audience. Regardless of your age, a trip to your local Honda dealer is in order if the Element's qualities appeal to you.

2006 Honda Element models

The four-door 2006 Honda Element SUV comes in three trim levels -- LX, EX and EX-P. With the LX, you'll get power windows and locks, an easy-to-clean urethane utility floor, removable and folding rear seats, waterproof front seats and a driver-seat height adjuster. Additional standard goodies include power mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning and a CD player. The EX has all of these features plus alloy wheels, an additional cargo area-mounted power point, keyless entry, waterproof rear seats, front armrests and a 270-watt audio system. The EX-P adds body-color painted exterior fender panels and door handles. Vehicles with all-wheel drive come with a removable rear sunroof.

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2006 Highlights

Honda has added an additional trim level to the 2006 Honda Element line, the EX-P. Based upon the EX, it adds body-color exterior panels. The EX receives new alloy wheels and steering wheel audio controls, while the LX gets the former EX-exclusive metallic exterior cladding and standard antilock brakes. Additionally, stated power for the engine is a bit lower this year due to Honda's adoption of new SAE engine testing procedures.

Performance & mpg

Behind the Element's bulldoglike snout is the same 2.4-liter inline four found in the CR-V. Boasting Honda's i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology, output is rated at 156 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque. The Honda Element is available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations, and can be equipped with either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.

Safety

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard across the board. EX and EX-P versions also get front side-impact airbags as standard. However, unlike on the CR-V, side curtain airbags and stability control are not available. In government crash tests, the 2006 Honda Element earned a perfect five stars for frontal-impact protection. In side-impact tests, it earned five stars for front occupants and five stars for the rear (but with a higher than normal likelihood of head injury). In frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, the Element earned the top rating of "Good." In IIHS side-impact tests of small SUVs, it earned a "Poor" rating (the lowest), though the vehicle tested did not have the optional side airbags.

Driving

The 2006 Honda Element is no speed demon, but it does offer peppy performance with enough smoothness to make everyday commuting a pleasant experience. From behind the wheel, the Element feels as tall and boxy as it is. The steering offers positive feedback and the wide track keeps the Element stable in evasive maneuvers. The only thing that could detract from the fun on the open road is the boxy, high roof that is prone to wind noise.

Interior

Although the Element, at 71.5 inches, is some 3 inches wider than a CR-V, it is configured to seat four, not five. With stadium-style seating for the rear passengers, those riding in back will enjoy plenty of room and high visibility. With the rear seats removed, cargo capacity is a quite impressive 75 cubic feet. Though the wide opening provided by the clamshell doors is useful, using the rear doors is not as convenient as one might think. To open them, the front doors must be opened first, leading to some annoyance for the front passengers as they always have to open their doors in order to allow people in or out of the rear-seating area.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2006 Honda Element.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Love the toaster,!
Karen,10/21/2015
EX-P 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
Fun, easy to drive and so versatile with the large cargo area, it's like having the storage space of a minivan but the compact exterior for smaller spaces. The only tricky part for me is getting in and out of the back seat (having bad knees) is a bit awkward. A backseat heating/cooling vent would also be nice for ventilation, but I've travelled back and forth across the country several times and it has been a great ride every time. The all wheel drive makes snow and ice travel possible, where I've had other vehicles unable to do the job in bad weather. Honda Element owners seem friendly and happy - many Element drivers wave to me as if to say, "isn't this a great car to drive!" I've also found it humorous when I come out to the parking lot where I've parked far away from cars, only to find two to three other Elements parked around mine.
Great Ski Car
Runmaster,01/29/2009
EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
I purchased an '06 knowing that changes were going to made in the '07. I did not care for the new belt system and the front grill. Also, this was the 1st generation Element and I believe that all the issues are worked out with the last year of a generation change. (Front windshield, A/C, AWD, etc.) I have been correct. This car (SUV) is rock solid.
Not for everyone, but a great car
Jonathan W.,10/18/2010
EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
I have had my Element for 5 years now and am still waiting for the first sign of a problem. (OK, there was an airbag light that came on for no apparent reason, but a brief visit to the dealer fixed that.) It just keeps on running despite my best efforts to wear it out. The all wheel drive works great, and while it is not a performance car by any means, it has more than enough giddy-up. The absence of carpets, along with the water resistant upholstery, makes it an ideal choice for camping, swimming, etc. -- even with dogs. I am 40 years old, but I don't think I will ever outgrow the Element. I look forward to keeping this car for 5 more years and then getting a new Element.
It became a legend
drrtygary,05/23/2015
EX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
In 2003, I hated them. They were square, somehow shy looking, and yet moved with unearned confidence. Then, in 2009, when a friend told me he was looking for one, I gave it a second glance. I test-drove one. Seven hours later, it was in my name. I bought my 2006 Element EX with 30,000 miles on it. Six years later, when the odometer read about 77,000 miles, I found it hit by a driver and totaled. Very sad. This Element is the perfect companion. It's resilient, adaptable, and always two steps ahead. It finished my...sentences. As long as I fed it oil and kept it up, it was dependable. In 2015, I'm looking to buy my second Element. I love this car, even if it's a bit nerdy and too forgiving.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Poor
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Poor
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2006 Honda Element

Used 2006 Honda Element Overview

The Used 2006 Honda Element is offered in the following submodels: Element SUV. Available styles include EX-P 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), EX-P 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), EX-P 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), EX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M), EX-P 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M), and EX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2006 Honda Element?

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Which used 2006 Honda Elements are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2006 Honda Element for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2006 Honda Element.

Can't find a used 2006 Honda Elements you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Honda Element for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $21,492.

Find a used Honda for sale - 11 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $12,218.

Find a used certified pre-owned Honda Element for sale - 11 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $7,443.

Find a used certified pre-owned Honda for sale - 9 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $22,216.

Should I lease or buy a 2006 Honda Element?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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