2 of my co-workers own Hondas. One is a CRV, and one is an Element. The CRV is smooth, comfortable, plush and feels like a car. The Element looks, rides and feels like a 50-year-old army Jeep. I can't fathom the appeal of these things!!
Whoever think the CRV is a better choice that the element, that's who's wrong. The Element is a better choice than the CRV. I love the Element, it's roomier than the CRV as well.
First of all, the CR-V and the Element both share the same platform, the same engine, and most of the same equipment.
As most people have noticed though, that is where the similarities end. The CR-Vs suspension is tuned for more compliance on road and drives more like a tall car than an SUV. The Element was and is designed for people who value flexibility over comfort, as it's infinitely more configurable and has some really trick features like removable seats and a hose out rubber interior. The ride is more truck like than the CR-V, because of the weight of the vehicle (about 3600 lbs. with AWD) and it requires tougher suspension.
The bottom line is you should not buy one unless you plan on using it for what it was intended for. If you like car like quiet and softer suspension, the CR-V or any other small cute ute is for you. If you are an outdoorsman or camp a lot, and don't want to worry about getting mud in the vehicle, the Element cannot be beat, especially with 4x4.
I have an 06 Element, and I admit it falls short in some areas, but I would NEVER trade it in for a CR-V or RAV4, because of all the things it CAN do.
I agree with the Honda Element drivers -- great vehicle for someone who desires utilitarian usefulness instead of a cushy ride. Having no carpets had been a great (non) feature of this vehicle. I purchased a brand new 2008 Element after test driving the Civic, Fit, and the Accord. While my husband wanted the Accord, ultimately the decision came down to, "You're going to be the one driving it, YOU make the decision." Test drove both the automatic and 5 speed transmissions, and opted for the 5 speed. Much better get up and go! No regrets in purchasing this vehicle.
We love our 06 Element. The only problem we've had with it in 4 years are the automatic windows. The driver's side broke last year, and the passenger side last month. Also, it transfers a lot of road noise, and that can be annoying on a long trip. Otherwise, it has been a very versatile vehicle. It handles very well considering the boxy shape, and is easy to turn and park. Lot's of head room and space inside.