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anybody driving a honda element yet? (slightly off topic)(44 posts)

anybody driving a honda element yet? (slightly off topic)JS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 11:24 AM
this is cycling-related, as my sickness is the #1 deciding factor in buying the next vehicle. abiltity to transport bikes, gear, and riders to out of town rides is high priority. otherwise this will be a 10-mile per day commuter. no, i can't ride to work yet.

it's my turn this year to get a new auto and i'm eyeing that mighty fine lookin' honda element. i think it's based on the civic/CRV frame, is somewhat gas efficient, is not a land barge, and seems to be designed for someone more likely to eat dinner out of a bag in the front seat instead of off the good china in the formal dining room. :)

instead of one large rear chair, there are two separate seats. they either fold in half, then up to the sides of the vehicle, or can be completely removed. the interior flooring is a plastic/synthetic that can be mopped/wiped clean. the rear opens like a "clamshell", and the side doors (1 & 1/2 on each side) open in opposite directions.

and it's in my price range.

any input?
Saw one...LactateIntolerant
Feb 14, 2003 11:30 AM
...on the road for the first time yesterday (I'd eyeballed one at the dealer about a month ago). Strange looking thing, but I really like the practicality. If you aren't bothered by the looks, I think they'd make a great bike hauler.
re: anybody driving a honda element yet? (slightly off topic)abelson
Feb 14, 2003 11:31 AM
You can buy an internal bike rack for it like on the Xterra
or make one with three $12 fork mounts and a 2x4 (nm)JS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 11:38 AM
Not yet, but plan too.Mel Erickson
Feb 14, 2003 11:36 AM
In about 2 years, that is. It's the wife's turn to buy a car next year and it's going to be a Passat wagon w/4Motion (used but not abused). The following year it's my turn and the Element should be a pretty good used car buy about then. I think it'll handle my dogs, bikes, wood, tools, fishing and hunting gear and some buddies in a pretty smart way, efficiently and not make my conscience start ragging on me.
re: the lookJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 11:42 AM
actually i enjoy the look. granted, the color makes a huge difference. that black against the dull grey side panels isn't so hot, and makes it look fairly tall and thin. the other colors are nice so far. the silver makes me all giddy.
I like the blue. nmMel Erickson
Feb 14, 2003 1:36 PM
you evil person...how could you even consider an SUV! ;) (nm)ColnagoFE
Feb 14, 2003 11:36 AM
my other SUV is lonely and needs companionship. nmJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 11:38 AM
What makes an SUV owner evil?Ambishawn
Feb 16, 2003 10:59 AM
Most people who put down SUV's dont actually own one. With a family an SUV is very useful. The guy who owns the bike shop I which I bought my new frame has some strong opinions about SUV's. Whats so bad about having 4 wheel drive and being able to see over a car in front of You? If some drunk idiot plows into our SUV with my wife and kids our chances of survival are greater than a fuel efficant little car. I'm paying for the gas, that makes me a majior tax-payer because gas tax per gal is high. Sounds like a good contribution to society to me. Modern Engines are exteremly enviormently friendly. My SUV features two spark plugs per cyl, a verible EGR, and can run an air/fuel ratio of 22/1 on the HWY. I'd like to know how is My SUV bad for the enviroment. It dosent leak or burn oil, and neither will a new under factory warrenty one from the Honda dealer. Want to know what evil really is? Any aircooled VW powered vehicle, Any Two stroke powered vehicle, or any poorly maintained vehicle with high mileage. The next time you see a 17 year old kid who just got his licence and his 1969 Camaro running, compaire him to a modern SUV owned by a cyclist. Do you think this kid is concerned about your safety with that hot babe sitting in the passenger seat to contend with? Do you think the stoners in the 21 window VW bus are not gonna run you over climbing a mountain grade on your Colnago? Put a smog probe in even a good running aircooled VW bus or 1960 muscle car and compaire it to a modern SUV.

My Credentils for this argument are
Certificate of Completion in Automotive Technology (two years)
ASE Certified in Engine Performance/Drivibilty A6 and A8
8 years as a Mercedes Benz dealership technician which incudes a 2 year apprenticship.
Completion of all clean air car courses offered in the state of California.
I've been the stoner in the VW bus
I've been the 17 old in the 69 Camaro with all kinds of babes in the passenger seat.
What makes an SUV owner evil?mcteague
Feb 16, 2003 12:22 PM
Maybe not evil but...SUVs give you a better view at the expense of other drivers. The perceived extra safety, when you count rollover accidents, SUVs are not that much safer, is again bought on the backs, and lives, of other drivers. A Volvo is saver without having bumpers a full foot above those of a regular car. Who really needs the biggest SUVs? I never see them with a full load of people and can't ever remember seeing mud on any SUV! They are all style and waste. Have kids, get a van, they have more room. All the arguements people give for getting SUVs ring a bit hollow. The move towards smaller SUV that are really just taller, 4WD, wagons makes more sense. While I agree about 2 stroke engines, personal watercraft and snowmobiles, etc., being dirtier they don't get run as much as a SUV so I don't think that lets you off the hook. Car companies love them as they have truck classification so can pollute more and have less stringent standards with regards to crash tests and have a much larger profit margin. It does seem that there is a backlash building against these absurd vehicles and the gov't, yielding to public pressure, is trying to reign them in. But with George W. in office I am not holding my breath.

Tim
What makes an SUV owner evil?Ambishawn
Feb 16, 2003 1:04 PM
The Volvo 4wd wagon is awsome. I love that thing. As well a the Subaru 4wds. I don't disagree that SUVs comsume more fuel and can become somewhat an urban assult vehicle with those heavey push bumpers and skid plates. People forget that it's the drivers that create the accedents not the cars. I remember when people said that all BMWs are driven crazey and unsafe. I personly like cars with fwd. They are safer in foul weather and are somewhat capable offroad. I remember going camping in My Mercedes 300E, there were some campsites up an appearntly well maintaied dirt road. I had to make a 3 point turn and got the car stuck with one around to pull Me out. I took me two hours to jack to car up and fill the hole (the ones the car dug) with rocks to get enough traction to pull out of the sand with the car. All arguments about SUV's are never how they inconvenence the owner but the other moterists. I personally think those Monster trucks are dangerous and inpractical.
re: anybody driving a honda element yet? (slightly off topic)jaybird
Feb 14, 2003 11:44 AM
I don't know anyone with one, but have seen 2 on the road. The funny hting abou that is that both times they were being driven by little old ladies and the target demographic is a 20-30 yr old male.

They dont look too bad up close though and they have recieved pretty good reviews. Just a little too trendy for my taste and I don't know about buying a new model the first year it is out. FWIW I'm partial to the Subaru Outback but it wouldn't carry as much beer as the Element.
beer portage is important, yes. cooler space, ultimately. nmJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 12:21 PM
been lookintarwheel
Feb 14, 2003 11:51 AM
We're looking for a vehicle to replace my wife's aging Taurus and some of the smaller SUVs are pretty intriguing. The Honda Element and CRV, as well as the Ford Escape and Saturn VUE, all get remarkably good gas mileage for SUVs -- about 25-26 mpg hwy for automatics. You can fit a bike in the back inside all of them, and they all have optional roof-top bike racks. Personally, we liked the Escape better than the others -- and I'm a longtime Honda fan whose owned about 4 of them. Ford is coming out with a hybrid gas/electric Escape sometime this year that is supposed to get 40 mpg hwy. No other SUV can come close to that, and not many sedans.
been lookinohmk1
Feb 14, 2003 12:37 PM
I would only get an American vehicle if I was doing a short term lease, I will always buy a Japanese
I used to feel that waybianchi boy
Feb 14, 2003 3:29 PM
My last Honda, an Accord wagon, had all sorts of mechanical problems -- serious ones, like an engine mount breaking and a main gasket blowing out losing all the oil. I wouldn't vouch for all American cars, but Ford -- for one -- really know how to build trucks. I drove a Toyota pickup for 7 years and traded it in for a Ford Ranger five years ago. The Ford is heads-and-shoulders superior to the Toyota in nearly every respect. I haven't had one problem with my Ranger, but the Toyota was in the shop all the time.
I walked through one last weekendfracisco
Feb 14, 2003 11:59 AM
I think it's a nifty design. Very practical, and not very expensive.

The upsides are a flexible interior with rear seats that foldup out of the way. It offers Honda reliability with a drivetrain that has been running in the CR-V for several years. The 2WD design is inexpensive, but you really need the EX to get what most people consider basic necessities like AC. You really don't need 4WD (at least out here on the West Coast), and you could throw snow chains on for the few times you might be up in the mountains and save yourself the initial purchase price and insurance cost (unless you really want the rear sunroof panel).

The downsides are only seats four, and the gas mileage is not all that great. Insurance will be a question mark.

It's a love it or hate it design. I really like it, and will be encouraging the girlfriend to trade up her Civic for it.
re: insuranceJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 12:24 PM
i'm currently driving a '97 civic (bought new oct/nov '96). insurance for the element is <$5 more per month, if that.
They want too much money for that ugly/utilitarian thing. nmeschelon
Feb 14, 2003 12:02 PM
If your a real cyclist, then this is all the vehicle you need baby!Kristin
Feb 14, 2003 12:11 PM
And you don't need no pamsey-mamsey paniers neither!

thanks to the person whom I borrowed this photo from...whoever you are.
lobster bucketsJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 12:27 PM
or whatever those are sure would be good for carrying a sixteen pack of schlitz malt liquor bull. that would probably keep me out of hot water were i to chance encounter billy dee williams. a good reason to second-think the element.
my thoughts on the Elementgregario
Feb 14, 2003 12:16 PM
I too have been considering the Element as a future bike, i mean car, purchase. I think I am having a mid-life crisis (halfway to 82!) Like you, my sickness has influenced my auto purchases. My problem is that I/we have a Tandem. And it a nice tandem. and it's an expensive tandem. and it sure as hell isn't going to be cruising down the freeway at 70+mph on top of any car. So, I drive a Mini-van with all the seats behind the driver's removed. It's great for the tandem, singles, bags of peat moss, bird feed, etc.

I have seen the Element at a car show, which is the big reason why I went there in the first place. I thought it didn't seem as big in the rear as I hoped. I guess I'm just used to the minivan. I have also heard that it is lacking in the acceleration department and I don't think the gas mileage is THAT great - Although I'm contradicting myself when I say the mileage isn't that great and the acceleration is poor. I can't have it both ways. (and it probably gets slightly better mileage than my van) Then there's the issue of it being a new model - but then again it's a Honda - known for reliability. If I wanted one I would probably wait a year or two and buy used, IF you can find one. The Subaru Forester has gotten great reviews, have you considered one of those?

Personally, I'm waiting until they make a larger hybrid that my tandem will fit into.
fitting a single (or several singles) inside the elementJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 12:33 PM
actually i stopped at the closest local dealership immediately following the nastiest and most brutal 'cross race of last season and stuck my 'cross bike in the back. went in fine without the front wheel (a 56 cm surly cross-check with the seatpost jacked up). it did fill the vehicle, length-wise, from the back of the back seat to the rear doors. i figure the element could fit 3 riders (including the driver) and 3 bikes and a stack of 3 overnight bags and gear. any more and you'd have to get one of those roof-mounted travel containers or put two of the bikes on a hitch rack.

by the way, the scumbag car dealers (no offense to any of you reading this who are, in fact, scumbag car dealers) didn't blink when i put the muddy/bloody post-race steed, and my big arse, into the back of that pristine (two days on the lot) element.
Now my suspicions have been confirmed. . .js5280
Feb 14, 2003 12:19 PM
My recommendation for JS is undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Actually I parked next to one today. It looked a bit odd in the advertisements, but I reserved judgement till today. After seeing it in person, I think it's pretty ugly. Not Aztek ugly but not far off. Not a bad price for a Honda though. I'd look at the Subaru Forester, 5 more HP and 500 lbs. lighter, more cargo room, plus it doesn't have that God awful two tone thing going on. That's my main gripe with the Element. What's up with the rash of freakish cars lately? You'd think the auto makers would stay conservative in down markets.
Let's not forget.....RickC5
Feb 14, 2003 3:11 PM
that car designs start 2-3 years BEFORE the vehicle hits the street. Honda admittedly designed this thing for the slightly affluent y-genners working for the dot.coms. Whoops! Maybe NOT!

I also convinced that auto designers must have no new material or imagination to work with. Several "totally new" cars/trucks/SUVs have been introduced in the last couple of years that tend to look JUST LIKE their predecessors. I can't figure this stuff out, so I no longer try.
I dislike SUV'sMR_GRUMPY
Feb 14, 2003 12:21 PM
Not because they try to kill me (They are), but because when you are driving behind them, it's hard to see what's going on in front of them.
AmEN. nm.Kristin
Feb 14, 2003 12:24 PM
ever ridden behind a CRV? nmJS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 12:34 PM
rumor has it the Element is the illegimate child of the AztekFunston
Feb 14, 2003 12:25 PM
I saw an Element drive by yesterday and what an eyesore it was, a downsized, boxed-out Pontiac Aztek. I think you have been sucked in by the hip, young image the marketers are using to sell it.
LMAO, see post above (nm)js5280
Feb 14, 2003 12:29 PM
I think you're right...JS Haiku Shop
Feb 14, 2003 12:40 PM
i'm usually the first to succumb to advertising and peer pressure. that can be proved by just a glimpse of my LP and cassette collection: Billy Ocean, Debarge, and Vanilla Ice. oh, and madonna was cool until "Like A Virgin", and everything after that was fairly well crap. the cassette i've worn out and purchased again, though, was the "st. elmo's fire" soundtrack. though it's really kickin', i tend to hide that fact from friends and relatives, as for some reason it doesn't garner a very high "boffo" factor.

in retrospect of my original post, and in light of such insight and deeply considered advice, i'm going to stick with "plan B":
I like itpmf1
Feb 14, 2003 1:43 PM
So ugly its cool.

In fact, my wife and I looked at one at a Honda dealership last month. They're going in a day, so don't expect to pay less than sticker. The only ones they're getting in are the loaded 4-wheel drive ones, so don't expect to get one for $16,000 either. Loaded w/ 4-wheel drive is around $20,000 which ain't bad. And except for oil changes -- no scheduled maintenence for 110,000 miles. I like the water-proof (practically) interior. You can get an interior bike mount too. The 160 hp engine is so-so. I'd like more power, but that seem sufficient.

My wife and I sure got strange looks from the salesman. A late 30's couple (I'm actually 40), expecting a child in 4 months is not the demographic this is being aimed at.

Its so much cooler than a minivan, but it only seats 4 which is kind of a drawback. God, I hate minivans, but they are practical.
re: anybody driving a honda element yet? (slightly off topic)mickey-mac
Feb 14, 2003 3:09 PM
I've never driven one, but my neighbor reviews cars for Newseek. She had one to test drive for about two weeks and was impressed with it. She has a different car almost every week and really knows her stuff. I found it to be a bit too funky looking at first the its looks grew on my over that two week period. It definitely seems like a functional vehicle and seems get pretty good mileage. I'm thinking about trying to convince my wife to trade in her Explorer (her decision, not mine) for an Element.
I'd wait for this insteadgtx
Feb 14, 2003 3:16 PM
Hard to go wrong with a supercharged 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 wagon.

http://www.caranddriver.com/xp/Caranddriver/previews/2003/february/0302_preview_magnum.xml?&page=1
Ah, what do you know about Dodge?mickey-mac
Feb 14, 2003 3:34 PM
You've probably never even been a Dodge. ;-)
"...that thing got a hemi...?" nmcurtybirdychopper
Feb 14, 2003 4:52 PM
that pos has check engine light written all over it nmthe bull
Feb 16, 2003 7:32 AM
Drove one briefly for a story; loved it; want one.cory
Feb 14, 2003 3:14 PM
I'm the Anti-SUV, but I've had really good experiences with Hondas and the Element (I drove a five-speed, two-wheel-drive DX) was fun. I won't need a car for another couple of years, but I'm going to keep an eye on them until the initial early-adopter prices go down and they stop loading them with accessories, and probably get one. I'm 30+ years older than their target market, but I like something I can hose out and sleep in when I need to.
How 'bout this one?Mel Erickson
Feb 14, 2003 4:54 PM
http://www.fordvehicles.com/autoshow/cars/freestylefx/

Coming soon (2005?) to a Ford dealer near you.
How 'bout this one?mickey-mac
Feb 14, 2003 5:03 PM
It looks a lot like my '03 Passat Wagon and even more like the '03 Audi AWD Wagon.
YepMel Erickson
Feb 15, 2003 6:36 AM
Those first cousins were one of their design targets. I hope the sliding roof makes it to production, it would be a really versatile auto.
re: anybody driving a honda element yet? (slightly off topic)Sugarrider
Feb 14, 2003 8:50 PM
I think the Element is very cool, but if you can afford it, go with the CR-V. It is definitely the best car I ever owned.. actually it's my wife's, but we share it ;-)

Anyway, I can easily fit 2 mountain-bikes in the back of the CR-V (after folding the back seats of course) WITHOUT taking the front wheels off! Needless to say, my Trek 2200 goes right in also.

If you're looking for a practical car, this is it!
I'm looking hard at one.Spoke Wrench
Feb 15, 2003 7:20 AM
I like the black color best. The two tone versions, especially the brighter colors do not appeal to me at all.

For me the big issue is: Will the back wheel of my tandem fit forward between the front seats enough to let me both shift gears and shut the hatch?

Other than that, I don't worry excessively about gas mileage or acceleration. I'm old and crusty enough to not concern myself with the "trendy" issue. I've got one finger to say to anyone who doesn't care for my choice. "Hey. You do what you think's best for you and I'll do what I think's best for me."