I like almost everything about the my '03 Element EX, but have just recently discovered that I simply don't feel safe driving it in rain, especially heavy storms. There was a brief mention in another CarSurvey.org review that in rain one wheel might lose some traction, but an AWD model would transfer power to the rear, eliminating the issue.
I just drove in pounding rain from Phoenix to Los Angeles yesterday, and sure enough, in any kind of rain, especially in puddles, one wheel spins, the car bucks, and feels like it's about to totally lose traction. I had to slow to about 55mph to feel like I might be able to control it, but with other cars and especially semi trucks whizzing by, the water spray they shot in front of me made the conditions worse.
I may look into better rain tires to improve the situation; I think the car currently has the stock Goodyears.
If you live in a wet area, I advise you to strongly consider an AWD model. I've heard it has negatives of a little more transmission noise, and worse gas mileage (it's already pretty dismal at about 23 MPG/gallon)... but you may, like me, feel like you're taking your life in your hands during any kind of inclement weather otherwise.
As others have noted, too: the suicide rear doors are fun, but very awkward to get things in and out of in my tight garage with 2 cars parked inside. Road noise is a little high, but the nice 7-speaker sound system with my iPod cures that!