Honda Element

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Honda Element
2003-2006 Honda Element -- 08-28-2011.jpg
Manufacturer Honda
Production 2003–2011
Chassis Y1, H1
Assembly East Liberty, Ohio, U.S. (ELAP)
Body and chassis
Class Compact crossover SUV
Body style 5-door
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Related Honda Civic
Honda CR-V
Acura RSX
Engine 2.4 L I4: K24A4 2003–2006, K24A8 2007+
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 101.4 in (2575 mm)
Length 2003-08: 169.3 in (4,300 mm)
2003-08: 170.2 in (4,323 mm) (EX-P)
2003-08: 170.3 in (4,326 mm) (EX)
2003-08: 170.8 in (4,338 mm) (SC)
2009-: 169.9 in (4,315 mm)
2009- SC: 170.4 in (4,328 mm)
Width 2003-08: 71.5 in (1,816 mm)
Height 70.4 in (1,788 mm)
69.5 in (1,765 mm) (SC)
Successor Honda HR-V
Honda Element logo

The Honda Element is a compact crossover SUV based on a modified CR-V platform, manufactured in East Liberty, Ohio and offered in front-wheel and all-wheel drive formats in the United States and Canada from model years 2003[1] through 2011.[2]


The Element followed a concept vehicle called Model X, developed by a core group of Honda R&D engineers in 1998 and debuted at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Model X was designed to be an activity-oriented vehicle combining features of a pickup truck and a sport utility vehicle.[3]

The 4-seat Element is optimized to carry large volume loads, limited by total passenger and cargo weight not exceeding 675 lb.. The floor is made of easily cleanable TPO coated textured urethane; the fabric is stain resistant; the individual rear seats recline, fold up, and are removable. The rear clamshell tailgate arrangement is large, and the vehicle is tall, allowing tall loads.

The rear side doors open outward from the front but are not referred to as suicide doors: they cannot be opened if the conventional front doors are not open. To accommodate elimination of the B-pillars, which provides unobstructed access for side loading through the 2006 model model year, limited by the front seat design from 2007 onward, the Element features a chassis with reinforced joints, strengthened lower side sills, larger cross members, enlarged rocker panels, and five bulkheads per side.

The compact SUV features a 2.4 Litre K Engine, an i-VTEC four-cylinder engine producing 166 hp (124 kW) at 5500 rpm and 160 lb·ft (217 N·m) of torque at 4500 rpm and front-wheel drive or an optional all-wheel drive system — a hydraulically actuated system that operates only when front wheel slippage occurs, marketed as "Real Time" all wheel drive. The Element has a towing capacity of 680 kg, or 1500 lbs.

With projected first year sales of 50,000,[1] the Element sold 67,478 units in 2003 in the U.S.[4] By 2010, just over 14,000 were sold,[2] and by December 2010, shortly before its discontinuation, it had sold a total of more than 325,000 units.[2]

In 2007, the Element won the "Dog Car of the Year" award because of its "versatile cargo space, easy-clean flooring, crate-friendly rear design and optional all-wheel drive."[5] and in 2010 it won the "Small SUV" category as a "Top Safety Pick" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Annual Awards.[6]

Model year particulars[edit]


The 2003 Element was launched with two trim levels — DX and EX. All-wheel drive models came with a large rear skylight.[citation needed]


The LX model was introduced with more standard features.[vague] Improvements were made to the front seats as well as the inclusion of an armrest for the passenger's side captain's chair. The DX model was eliminated. Side airbags became available as an option, and XM satellite radio and MP3 capabilities were added as standard features in the audio system for the EX model. The charcoal gray plastic tone was darkened and a navy blue was offered with the Satin Silver Metallic paint. Wheel covers on the LX were changed to mimic the styled alloy wheels. Fuel economy was officially 19 miles per US gallon (12.4 l/100 km) City, 23 miles per US gallon (10.2 l/100 km) Highway; 20 miles per US gallon (11.8 l/100 km) Combined[7]


2006 Honda Element EX-P

A fully painted version called the EX-P became available for an extra US$500. It came with a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.


2007–2008 Honda Element EX

The 2007 Element received a mild refresh, which included 10 hp increase to 166 hp, along with a 5-speed automatic transmission, and seat belts integral to the front seats allowing rear-seat occupants to exit the vehicle without a front occupant having to unbuckle. Side airbags became standard, as did electronic stability control. The plastic latticework grille was replaced by silver-colored slats.

2007–2008 Honda Element SC

A new trim level called the SC was offered with a different front bumper and grille, lowered suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels, projector headlamps, "tribal print" seat fabric, center console, and carpeted floors in the seating areas. Unlike the other trim packages, the SC had a non-removable center console.


The only change from the 2007 Element was the addition of the color Royal Blue Pearl for the SC trim.[8]


2009–2011 Honda Element
2009 Honda Element SC

New color combinations for the dashboard became available.[9]

For 2009, the Honda Element got a navigation option and some cosmetic changes to the exterior. The hood and grill were redesigned, the front fenders were now all metal rather than painted composite material,[9] and the wheel arches were squared off.[9] The moonroof was no longer available for 2009-2011.

Windshield problems[edit]

A service bulletin was released regarding the windshield flange surface being uneven.[10] This bulletin along with the warranty obligated[according to whom?] Honda of America to replace the windshield at no cost to the owner. The class action Daniels, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. reached final settlement on 16 November 2006, providing for warranty replacement of windshields in 2003- and 2004_model Elements for 6 years or 60,000 miles.[11]

Advertising and marketing[edit]

Gil the Crab[edit]

After a summer break, Honda decided to bring back a portion of the "Element and Friends" ad campaign, but with a focus on the crab, who was given the name Gil.[12] The most popular character from the ads with his "I Pinch!" catch phrase, Gil had a myspace page[13] to chronicle Gil's trouble with the law. In order to tap into social networking sites, which began to play larger roles in ad campaigns in the mid-2000s, Gil was to maintain a blog and promote an online petition to save his job.[14] and endorse Gil paraphernalia through a website. This led up to the launch of the new commercial dubbed Element TV, which premiered 28 September 2006, and rolled out with the new Honda Element SC which went on sale that same day.[citation needed]

Element and Friends - version 2.0[edit]

In the fall of 2006, the Element and Friends ( website, now defunct) was re-launched with the introduction of the new Element SC trim. The previous version had the driving game using the Element EX-P (now simply called the EX) in a desert, snow topped mountains, forests, and a beach. They now renamed that area "above ground". A new second option from the main page allows you to select the Element SC to go "underground" in an urbanesque environment featuring a drive-in, central park with a basketball court, a seedy mainstreet, and project housing. The six new SC friends include a rat, mole, hamster, pigeon, roach, and a dog. The drive-in serves as the venue to view the TV spots that feature only the rat, mole, pigeon, and hamster. The format remains the same with new mini-games, but both maps now include a tunnel to venture above or below the surface, through the mountain and building respectively. Changes to the above ground include the removal of the previous TV spots from the website and a link on the beach to Gil's Myspace page.

RPA,[15] the company which created the Element and friends website, won the "Best in Show"[16] from MIXX Awards for the microsite. They revealed that visitors average 15 minutes on the site.

Dog-friendly Concept[edit]

See "external links" below for dog-friendly concept car photo gallery.

In 2007, the Honda Element won the's "Dog Car of the Year" award. Honda chose to follow up on that with a concept vehicle unveiled in 2009 New York Auto Show specifically designed for canine transportation.[9] It included a pet restraint system, an extendable cargo area load-in ramp, a 12V DC rear ventilation fan, second-row seat covers with a simple beige dog-outline pattern design to match the bed cover fabric, all-season rubber floor mats with a toy bone pattern, a fan, and "Dog Friendly" exterior pawprint emblems. A spill-resistant water bowl, also included, could be placed into a nook in the corner of the pet bed.[9]

The second row pet restraint system was a small net crate suitable for cats or small dogs, which could be belted into place. It strapped directly to the lower portion of the seat and the captive animal could not see out the windows, unlike the pet "booster seats" sold by pet-supply vendors specifically designed to allow small dogs to see through the windows and sniff the incoming airflow. The pet bed is a thick cushion for the whole of the rear cargo area. The cargo area pet restraint system consists of netting on the sides and the top of the dog bed, as well as a zip-up fourth side to be secured after the dog is loaded.

The package was dealer-installed and retails for $1,000.[17]


A Honda Element on top of Frazier Peak, Southern California

Sales of the Element continued to slump throughout the final years of its production, bottoming out with only 14,000 units in 2009. In 2003 (The Element's introductory and most successful year) Honda sold more of the cars than it did in the vehicle's final 3 years combined. Industry analysts and Honda executives blamed the Element's demise on a variety of factors: competition from similar vehicles offered by other manufacturers, rivalry within the automaker's own product line, and a dwindling market share for SUVs overall.

When Honda unveiled the Element in 2003 the design was unique, and the no-nonsense philosophy and retro/progressive styling drew customers to the car. The still emerging and relatively new market for compact SUV's offered little competition, and Honda was able to win over buyers by targeting the car toward young, active people with a list of options to suit outdoor activities like biking and camping. Competing automakers quickly noticed the vehicle's success, and the Element was quickly joined by similar vehicles such as the Nissan Cube, Ford Flex, Kia Soul and Scion xB. These other vehicles were similar to the Element and many of them were more affordable, which proved to be too alluring for the capricious young audience at which the car had been aimed. In addition to facing stiff competition from off the lot, the Element also had to cope with intense rivalry from within the Honda stable in the form of the automaker's flagship CRV. The Element model line struggled in the shadow of this more well-established sister car. Adding to this was Honda executives' decision not to update the Element at all during the car's entire 9-year production run, a decision that made the Element seem dull and dated in a market sector that places an extremely high value on ultramodern contemporary styling and state-of-the-art technology. The model's worst sales year, 2009, saw the CRV outselling the Element by a factor of 5 to 1.[18] [19]

The final model year for the car was 2011.


  1. ^ a b "Honda Adds New "Element" To Lineup" (Press release). Honda Motor. 2002-03-27. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "Honda announces end of Element production". Autoblog. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Honda to build Model X Concept". Conceptcarz. 2002-01-03. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  4. ^ Nate Martinez (2009-12-14). "Honda to build Second-Generation Element". Motor Trend. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  5. ^ "Honda Element Wins First-ever DogCar of the Year Award". PRWeb. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "TOP SAFETY PICKs 2010". Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Gas Mileage of 2005 Honda Element 4WD". Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  8. ^ "Honda Element 2008 SC SUV Colors". Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  9. ^ a b c d e New York: Honda Ramps Up Attention for Dog-Friendly Element Concept, April 8, 2009.
  10. ^ "2003 Windshield Service Bulletin" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Honda Creates Web Buzz for Ad Character, Aug 28, 2006, Ad Week.
  13. ^ "Gil "The Crab" - 28 - Male - MALIBU, US". Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  14. ^ Save the Crab
  15. ^ "RPA". RPA. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  16. ^ Press Release: RPA Celebrates Three MIXX Awards Wins and Two Creative Media Awards, September 29, 2006.
  17. ^ [1] Honda's dog-friendly Element is aimed at pets -- and their owners
  18. ^ "L.A. Times Financial Article". 2010-12-10. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Honda announces end of Element production". Autoblog. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 

External links[edit]