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2003 Honda Element $35 per mile report(33 posts)

2003 Honda Element $35 per mile reportJS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:26 AM
had it since memorial day. i have a short commute to the office, and usually pedal to rides; my last car, purchased new and driven for 7 years, was traded in with 85,000 miles on it (i'm not a big-mile driver). i do however like to go out of town for rides, so this vehicle is ideal.

it's a 2003 Honda Element EX, auto, 4wd. more like a rolling boom box--270 watt stereo/cd with subwoofer in the console (stock). i'm pleased as punch so far.

removed the driver's side rear seat on the first weekend, and haven't needed it since. i can haul a month of groceries, two bikes and a ton of gear, or a long morning of landscaping in the E, with 2 passengers. i figure four bikes will fit in back, if inserted reverse each other. this however would leave no room for gear or a second passenger.

the seats are liquid-proof, and have already been proven. all kids (2, 3, 4 year olds) see this thing as a giant play gym toy when the doors are open. though we were at the dealership for several hours, my son never tired of climbing in and through the E on the showroom floor.

tons of space in the vehicle, but mostly wide open. all doors have a large side pocket, there's a small overhead bin for the front seat, and two small side pockets in the rear/trunk area. i counted six or more tie downs in the back. the floor is a slick plastic with raised dime-sized dots for traction, is soft in driver/passenger areas, and can be wiped down/mopped out.

back seats are set higher than front (theater seating), and there's more backseat legroom in the E than i've *ever* seen in another car. front seats also have ample legroom, and sit very low.

the engine will give aplenty if asked (4cyl), but sure likes the dino juice. i'm getting 22-23 mpg 50/50 city/hwy, but i've read the E gas mileage improves after a 1000-3000 mile break-in period.

the ride is car-like, not quite as carlike as my civic was, but still much more comfy (road-feel wise) than explorers, the ford escape, or the jeep grand cherokee. for a truck/small SUV, it handles quick, has a very short turning radius, and is very responsive, but you can still tell that it's a truck. the E is very tall, and to put a bike on the roof, i'm stretching on my toes (or using a step).

color is "Sunset Orange Pearl", but is more metallic, and glitters like an expensive fishing boat up close. the color seems to change substantially in different light, from burgundy to a burnt orange, and many hues in-between.

happy to field any questions.

(more pics) nmJS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:27 AM
(nm)JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:30 AM
...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:33 AM
....JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:34 AM
.....JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:34 AM
:)JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:35 AM
!JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:35 AM
---->JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:36 AM
^^JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:37 AM
(last pic, yo)JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 5:38 AM
A few questionstorquer
Jun 10, 2003 6:44 AM
1. The roof rack looks to be standard (EX package only?), but whose bike trays are those in the photos? Can Thule or Yakima trays be adapted to those rails? And what's keeping your Surly from tipping over in turns? Did you wrap the rear passenger seat belt around the right bar end, and is this enough?

2. I know I've gotten spoiled by the Recarro sport seats in my Saab, but one concern I've had with the Element is front seat comfort. My father's CRV (the Element is based on the CRV platform) has fairly short front seat bottoms, which is no big problem on short drives, but I find myself shifting around looking for a comfortable position on longer drives. (I'm six foot tall.) My Civic is better, but I haven't used it on long drives for a while; how would you rate the seats?

Thanks for sharing.
...answers...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 7:12 AM
the roof rack is a honda accessory. it was worked into the sale of the car, and took 10 days to get installed (installation=15 minutes and a screwdriver). the trays are the performance xport factory roof kit, purchased second-hand from RBR poster Wonderdog. they fasten around the factory rack. have carried bikes on the rack several times so far with this setup, no problem. i will only carry 'em up there in town, or for drives <60 min.

the surly was put in the E for the pics only. i have a few truck bed fork mounts and wheel holders on order. 2/$25 at performance, or you can purchase a single one from honda as an Element accessory for $150.

I have transported two bikes inside the vehicle on a couple occasions, using my training partner's Rhode Gear Truck Shuttle. his has only 2 mounts, and i removed one of the two endcaps to shorten it enough to fit between the wheelwells.

i'm barely over six foot, and have no problems with the seats. it's comfy like my civic (was). i've not given a second thought to the seat comfort, which tells me everything's setup fairly ok. on the other hand, i've not been pleased driving other vehicles, saturn sedans in particular, for the seat design. my wife drives a 2000 explorer 4dr, and though we've taken long driving trips in it, i find the driver's seat comfort only marginal.

I did many long drives, frequently back to back days, in my civic, and was always very comfy. so far the longest drive i've taken in the E was about 70 minutes one way, and was pleased with everything, including comfort.

the only drawback of the E as associated with seats might be the passenger's left armrest (there isn't one). the driver's right armrest, though well-enough made and sturdy, is very small and placed fairly low. there is no elbow-level center console as in other vehicles. honda offers a larger driver's right armrest with internal storage, but does not provide an add-on for the passenger's seat. i've seen plans/threads on honda element owners' forums for moving the driver's right armrest to the passenger's left side, but am timid yet about cutting holes in the upholstery (probably will never do it). it's a small, picky thing, and nowhere near a deal-breaker.
Can they paint it all one color???!!!Alexx
Jun 11, 2003 4:52 AM
I mean, I haven't driven a car with mis-matched body panels since that beat-up old '72 VW I drove in high school.
Can they paint it all one color???!!!JS Haiku Shop
Jun 11, 2003 5:51 AM
if you want it all one color, then buy it and paint it all one color.

that's probably the reason i'm driving it and you're not.
Jun 10, 2003 6:57 AM
Looks like it fits your bill.

Keep in mind that the roof rack probably costs you a mpg or two on the highway, even without bikes mounted. Might consider removing it for long trips if you don't need it.

Looks very tall inside. I know of several mid-size SUVs that are longer, but you can't stand a bike up inside without lowering or removing the seatpost.

For simple inside rack, when I had my Suburban I mounted some pickup truck bed fork clamps to a piece of plywood about 8 inches deep and the width of the interior. Holds them nice and steady, but is still easily moveable when you want to (and cheap).

thanksJS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 7:16 AM
i'm planning to do just that, plus affix some rubber strips or rug/hardwood flooring traction pads to the boards to keep 'em from moving around. my bud's rhode gear thing has rubber feet, but it still slid around a bit.

mpg: the mileage was taken on the first 2 tanks, before the rack was added. i had a heavy right foot in the civic; i'm now learning otherwise.
bike mounts on sale at Performance for $9.98DougSloan
Jun 11, 2003 7:01 AM
thanks. i'm hoping father's day will be productive. nmJS Haiku Shop
Jun 11, 2003 8:51 AM
Can you tow with it?....asphalt assault
Jun 10, 2003 7:07 AM
I'm thinking of replacing my wifes Caravan and need something that will tow a 2500lb/300lb tounge weight pop-up camper occasionally.

Did you happen to discuss towing capability of your Element when you bought it?
recommended max hauling capacityJS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 7:19 AM
is something like 650 pounds, including tongue weight and vehicle passengers/contents.

it's the only other potential drawback, but it doesn't apply in my case.

I plan to add a hitch for towing a small trailer and for a fork-mount hitch bike rack. a friend bought an element about 3 weeks before mine, and added a rack himself for $100. said it took him about 25 minutes. lights kit not included, but easy enough. it was his second or third DIY hitch install. he uses it to haul bikes on a hitch mount rack.
so it's basically a glorified minivan then?ColnagoFE
Jun 10, 2003 7:42 AM
If it can only haul that amount it isn't in the same league as most SUVs but then again most people don't need to haul that much anyway.
just the oppositeJS Haiku Shop
Jun 10, 2003 8:02 AM
it's like a bare-bones minivan. like a van with carpet removed and without the standard passenger creature comforts. it's built around 2 things: the driver, and the cargo.
How about raod noise?Live Steam
Jun 11, 2003 7:47 AM
Since the interior is bare of any sound deadening materials, is it noisy on the road?
how should i know?JS Haiku Shop
Jun 11, 2003 8:54 AM
I have a 270 watt sound system, and it's my first car with a cd player.


not too noisy, not any worse than the explorer. i think the civic was quieter, though. it's not noisy enough to disrupt a nice drive. also, it is a little less quiet with the seats removed.
So what do you crank when on the road?Live Steam
Jun 11, 2003 8:58 AM
I'm not sure what vintage you are :O) Heavy Metal like AC/DC, some Dead/CSNY, some New Wave and heaven forbid Disco?
here's the contents of my car cd case:JS Haiku Shop
Jun 11, 2003 9:10 AM
of course it's just stuff i picked out of the racks at home because the mood struck me. there's no particular theme, or--as you can tell--order.

soundgarden: down on the upside
beastie boys: check your head
stone temple pilots: core
ice-t: power
the matrix soundtrack
bad religion: 80-85
nirvana: bleach
smashmouth: fush yu mang
RATM: evil empire
jimi hendrix: essential hendrix, volumes 1 and 2
body count: body count
primus: frizzle fry
tom waits: rain dogs
green day: dookie
van halen: 1984
van halen: diver down
dead kennedys: in god we trust, inc. b/w plastic surgery disasters
dead kennedys: bedtime for democracy
tool: aenema
police: ghost in the machine
police: regatta de blanc
pixies: doolittle
pixies: tromple le monde
pixies: surfer rosa
rush: counterparts

please, please try to find a pattern.

essential hendrix :O) stone temple pilots: core :O) nmLive Steam
Jun 11, 2003 10:26 AM
You neglected one of the most vital details...The Walrus
Jun 10, 2003 11:08 AM
...a decent photo/description of your dashboard mojo--Hula girl? Elvis in green bellbottoms?
here ya goJS Haiku Shop
Jun 11, 2003 5:54 AM
dashboard hula girl from the automotive section at our friendly neighborhood Target store. the packaging said "spring action hips", so i couldn't resist. her skirt is cheap plastic and already starting to curl, so i'm going to make a nice dried grass skirt myself after a trip to the craft store.

thanks for askin'.
Now I like that! A real throwback.Live Steam
Jun 11, 2003 7:39 AM
I remember as a kid back in the 60s, my friends older brother had a Sunbeam Tiger with one of those on the dash. She used to wiggle while the care was idling :O)
she's very activeJS Haiku Shop
Jun 11, 2003 8:52 AM
and my wife is finally getting used to the idea.
Ahhhhh--"spring action hips..."The Walrus
Jun 11, 2003 11:31 PM obviously have more gracious Target stores in your neck of the woods than we do.