2008 Honda Element Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth engine, nimble handling, spacious interior, optional all-wheel drive.
  • Only seats four, clamshell rear doors complicate entry/exit for rear passengers.
Other years
List Price

Used Element for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2008 Honda Element models

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.

2008 Highlights

After a major update last year, the Honda Element returns for 2008 unchanged.

Performance & mpg

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.


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.


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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Honda Element.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

2008 Element SC - Yes, the hard to find SC.
Angus Young,09/09/2015
SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
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.
2008 element - saved my life
LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
Wonderful car. Airbags everything worked head on collision with Tahoe going 45 to 50 miles an hour. Walked away with minor injuries. Recommend this card to everyone I meet
Perfect "Out of the Box" vehicle
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.
Ugly as heck, but very reliable
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!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Honda Element features & specs


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
    Rollover3 / 5
    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
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Honda Element

Used 2008 Honda Element Overview

The Used 2008 Honda Element is offered in the following submodels: Element SUV. Available styles include EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5A), SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A), EX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A), LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A), LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5A), EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), SC 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M), and EX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Honda Element?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Honda Element trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Honda Element EX is priced between $9,980 and$9,980 with odometer readings between 119570 and119570 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 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) 2008 Honda Element for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Elements listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,980 and mileage as low as 119570 miles. 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 2008 Honda Element.

Can't find a used 2008 Honda Elements you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Honda Element for sale - 5 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $21,423.

Find a used Honda for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $19,189.

Find a used certified pre-owned Honda Element for sale - 6 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $9,631.

Find a used certified pre-owned Honda for sale - 4 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $20,308.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 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.

Check out Honda lease specials
Check out Honda Element lease specials