Gear swallowing, cool looking, fun to drive box!
I have only had the vehicle for about six weeks, but I have not yet had any problems.
I am an avid cyclist, and since my 1998 Mercury Mystique had some transmission issues (reviewed on this site also), I wanted a vehicle that would quite capably haul my bikes, my gear, and me, which the Element does in spades. The seats are waterproof, and the floors are not carpeted, so they can be wiped clean with ease. The rear seats also can be placed out of the way along the walls to provide more load space, or removed, if necessary. The potential seat configurations and USEFUL space inside are beyond compare.
The engine is typical Honda, meaning it needs to be kept at a high boil to find the most power, but acceleration is surprisingly good, especially for a 4-cylinder powering an aerodynamically challenged vehicle. I have the 2 wheel drive with a manual transmission, and it proves to be a very enjoyable combination. The shift throws are incredibly short, and the clutch action is super easy. Coupled with the peppy engine, city traffic is a breeze.
I have also found the Element to be the single most comfortable vehicle I have owned for long trips, and that includes a 1995 Buick LeSabre that I owned. The seats at first glance don't seem like much, but after a two-plus hour drive, I felt like I had just gotten into the car, with no back soreness or anything like that. The interior is just huge on the inside, large enough for my 6'3" friend to willingly ride in the back seat and for me to wear my bowler hat with plenty of remaining head room. The ride is sometimes a bit bouncy, but overall is pretty good. The 270-watt stereo and i-Pod jack make the drive that much more enjoyable, as well.
My fuel mileage has been decent so far, and is still getting better. Right now, I am getting about 23-25 city, 25-27 highway, although because it's a box, the mileage at 80 MPH does take a hit. It's worth noting that it does take 1,000-2,000 miles for the engine to fully "break in," so the mileage will not be all that great, especially during the first few hundred miles. Now that I'm at 2,000 miles (exactly 2,000 as I parked this morning...), the mileage has come up to the numbers I quoted.
Also, I do have to comment on the polarizing looks of the E. Personally, I think it's the best thing to hit American roads in a long, long time. Yeah, it's a box, but it's out there doing its own thing, kind of like me.
Again, the real story here is the ease with which the Element swallows my bikes and gear, and the ease of cleaning it up if the bike and I are muddy, dirty, et cetera. I love my box!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th September, 2006