We'll start off with bad things, leaving you with good and warm thoughts of the "E".
I am disappointed with several things. Something I did not think about until after I had purchased; it is a two door SUV! And has only 4 seats. Getting out of those back seats can sometimes be a pain with the suicide doors in tight spaces. Why Honda did not make those cup holders in the back a seat, I don't know.
I do think the interior can feel cheap. I don't understand why Honda couldn't offer a little nicer door panels and handles and such, all made of a cheap plastic. The interior scratches easily also, which isn't good considering its versatility. The carpeted floor mats are good for people who want the Element with a little more luxury, but try to take them out... it's not easy with their bulky design. And speaking of large bulky things, the damn sunroof in the back that has nearly no purpose, and almost impossible to remove. You have to stand on the tailgate and pull it out, then get down, holding this 20X30 inch glass panel and put it in a zipper bag? It's almost comical. I don't understand why it's not in the front, nor electric?
When test driving other Elements, I noticed seats were worn and ripped in many of them.
This is something I haven't read anywhere. The heat in my Element is not very hot. I mean, yeah, it gets the job done and the car warms up extremely fast, but it never puts out that boiling hot heat like my BMW does. Maybe I've been spoiled by german heat...
The rear view mirror needs to be bigger. Aftermarket websites sell a larger mirror for about $50, and 2007 models have a larger one... along with many of these complaints fixed. Pillars can cause a huge blind spot, so please don't take out anyone with your box. I know I almost have.
The power surprised me right away with its 4 cyl in such an 'aerodynamically challenged' vehicle as others put it, especially going to all 4 wheels. No one ever can believe it's a 4 cyl when they drive it (or ride with me the way I drive) and it's extremely quiet, just as a Honda should be.
Fuel economy is something strange... I am getting the exact rated fuel economy, 22 MPG for my AWD box. www.fueleconomy.gov is a great website, but these Elements generally will get less than stated.
It can turn on a dime.. it's true what others say. Also, its very firm yet plush suspension can make it sometimes bouncy. This keeps the vehicle from being rough on the highway, and from being too soft. It's made with parts from the Civic, and therefore drives more like a car than a truck/SUV.
There are all these people hating on Honda's poor real time AWD system, but it's really a cool system that basically provides a 70% front / 30% rear power config until slippage, where it reverses to 30%/70%. It's really neat to have in the rain, snow, sand, or weird situations you might catch yourself in. However, it takes about two MPGs off.
Some people complain about wind noise with the Element. I just say drive a convertible for a few years, then drive the Element, and see which is better. It can be a little loud on the highway, however it's a box. That's why Honda has a 270 watt stereo system. This system can play MP3 and WAV discs, which means you can put up to 400 songs on a CD, or you can plug your iPod into the system... Honda knows what they're doing.
Has an Accord engine. A 2.4L engine. This is the most reliable engine of the decade, and a remake of the 2.2L of Wards best engines of all time. It's probably going to last.
And don't think you have to be into biking, surfing... or constantly moving to buy the Element. It's perfectly suited for long trips, and is always fun no matter what.
There are always things I wish it had: more compartments, a little more luxury (just a little... like a external temperature gauge, no leather seats or anything, 5 seats, etc.) I like the idea that it's a Honda, so I don't have to worry about reliability. And it's so unique, versatile, and fun.