I'm the original poster of this review, with an update.
It turns out that here in Michigan, my Element eats brakes faster than a fat man eats at a buffet. At 98,000 miles, I've had to rebuild the entire rear brake system twice, and the front brake system once, all due to rust. The first time, my mechanic brought in the rotor to show me that he couldn't resurface it, and to show his point, he tapped on it with his micrometer. Chunks of the rotor literally broke off and fell onto the floor because the rotors were that rusted at 47,000 miles and two Michigan winters.
Oh, and have fun when the VTEC pressure sensor goes out at 87,000 miles while you're trying to keep up with traffic doing 85 on the freeway, and suddenly your car cuts out at 2,300 RPM (which is about 48 miles per hour in 5th gear with the manual transmission).
Also, over the past couple of years, my mileage has dropped dramatically. Once upon a time I could manage 29 mpg with this car on the freeway if I kept the speeds down toward the speed limit, but now, I can't manage more than 22, period, and normal city driving sometimes gets me down into the teens.
The car's also developed a few mystery clunks that my mechanic can hear, but neither he nor another mechanic at a another shop can identify, so I just keep driving it in the hopes that the mystery clunks don't identify themselves by way of component failure. Maybe the mystery clunks and the V8-like mileage are related, but who knows, since no one can identify the mystery clunks!
I bought a Honda because everyone raved about the quality and how they were so much better than American cars, and I liked the look and functionality of the Element. What a load of crap. Here I am approaching 100,000 miles (just clicked 98,000 on my drive to class this morning), and my car's already making mystery noises and making me worry that I'll be stranded on the side of the freeway. Forget that. Just as soon as I have my master's, I'll go back to supporting my family and my community by buying Ford or GM. Yeah my Element may have been built in Ohio, but the money went back to Japan, and this car isn't good enough to justify my buying another car that sends my money overseas.