• Dec 14, 2009
2010 dog-friendly Honda Element - click above for high-res image gallery

In spite of being functionally outstanding, Honda's odd looking Element crossover has never lived up to sales expectations. The funky box never approached the initial sales target of 75,000 units a year, and this year it's on track for barely more than 15,000 sales. Despite its relative commercial failure, Honda has reportedly given the green light to a second generation model. Despite a couple of modest freshenings, the Element is already seven years into its life cycle – considerably longer than typical for a Japanese branded model.

Given the slow sales, why would Honda bother with a new iteration? Honda's executive vice-president, John Mendel, has informed Automotive News that virtually all Element sales are incremental. The Element shares its platform with the much higher volume CR-V, but apparently almost no buyers cross-shop the two vehicles – Element buyers have no interest in the CR-V and vice-versa. If Honda does proceed with a new model, perhaps unique features like the recently introduced dog friendly package will be the key to increased differentiation and success.



[Source: Automotive News - sub req'd]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Element hasn't changed (except for some front/rear cosmetic treatments) since 2002, as a 2003 model year car. As a 2010 model, it's coming into it's EIGHTH year of production and in dire need of an update (which justifies it's annual sales of 15,000 units). If Honda only now approves the 2nd generation of the Element, it will most likely take another 2-3 years before it's officially released. Therefore, the 1st generation Element will most likely run about TEN to ELEVEN years of production (which is pretty sad for a company like Honda).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Honda & Toyota have grown the number of models they offer and have successfully taken more market share from GM & Ford... Consequently they now suffer the problems of keeping refreshesh rates current just like the domestics. I fear you will see more stale models in the import stables than you have ever seen before. I hope the refresh amounts to more than a Ranger-reskin to get it through the next decade.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's retarded. Half the car *was last gen* plastic. Not a true 4 door, poor fuel economy, snail paced engines and cheap interior with a bring price? I wonder why it never sold well.
      matthew
      • 5 Years Ago
      If your dog is so geriatric and decrepit that it needs a gangplank/ramp to get out of a low vehicle like the Element, maybe it's too fragile to ride in a car...

      Also, this thing has 166bhp/161ft.lbs and weighs 3600LBS!!!! This is a GREAT vehicle if you want to never be able to pass anyone and cause traffic backups!

      What a stupid thing! Stupid looking, stupid performing! Way to go Honda!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love the element, I would have considered getting one however the horrendous MPG turned me off. I think it is quirky looking, but in a good way, and the utility really is remarkable. I feel the same about the ridgeline - utility and mpg, though the looks really don't do it for me either...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Couldn't agree more. Really loved the look of these when they came out, and as a double dog owner, the no carpet approach made so much sense. The MPG killed it. My wife was hoping they'd make a hybrid version.

        Hope they address this in the next round.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ouch 22mpg in an Element? That's what I get in my WRX.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No argument there!

        I had an Element for three years. If I hit 22 on the highway, I did a victory dance to the gods. 18-19 city was the norm. Also, it was lacking in front legroom.

        I traded it for a 2010 Fit. More comfortable for the driver, FAR better mileage, and while the cargo volume isn't as cavernous, it's still good:

        Element (seats in place/seats folded)
        25 cubic feet /75 cubic feet

        Fit (seats in place/seats folded)
        21 cubic feet / 57 cubic feet

        So, I have 84% of the Element's cargo volume with seats in place, 76% of that space with the seats folded*?

        *By comparison, the volumes in cubic inches (seats in place/seats folded) of other small wagons and hatchbacks were disappointing; the only ones to match the Fit were much larger:

        Mazda3: 17/43
        Suzuki SX4: 16/54
        Matrix: 20/49
        Caliber: 19/48
        Nissan Cube: 11/58

        Even the much larger Chevrolet HHR (25/57)

        But back to the Element: part of it's fuel issue is the gearing. Mine was a stick - it ran at 3,000 RPM at a mere 60 mph. I've driven it from Florida to California. You never needed to downshift on the highway, and the drone of the engine was cancelled out by the raucous noise of the wind hitting the flat front, but damn did it like the dino-juice.

        On the plus side: It's great for hauling dirty stuff (toss in lawn mowers, bags of trash, muddy mountain bikes, motorcycle wheels), or bulky stuff (with the back open, I've moved a fridge), it's a breeze to park, the AWD is fantastic on dirt roads and on winter slush. If you like to camp, look no farther.
      • 5 Years Ago
      HA! and who says its only the Bottom line that makes (or breaks) the cut? Bravo for continuing to make a vehicle even though its not a HUGE sales success. I almost bought one but wanted more power. I know many friends who love them, quirkly looks and all.
      • 5 Years Ago
      maybe if they don't make it ugly, it'd be harder to choose...

      CURRENTLY:
      HMMM...do I want:
      1. a CR-V with functionality that looks like someone had chunky, corny, diarrhea dry onto a chassis aka an Element
      2. a decent looking Element with all the functionality removed aka a CR-V

      see, when these are the decisions a buyer has to make, it's obvious that the CR-V wins.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What a weird post...

        the couple of homeless guys who bum around the country and sleep in the darned thing like some yuppie hobos and get full stars while the two guys who pan the "Honda jumped on a bandwagon and failed, again, but will save face and do it again mentality" get sh!tcanned.

        Fan bois cannot take some heat?

        C'mon!

        Style-wise this IS the Honda 'Aztek' yet don't say it out loud...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd say: neither?

        I'd take a 10-year-old Forester over anything McHonda makes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm surprised that sales seem low - here in New England you see them all over the place. Then again you also see a LOT of Saabs and Volvos, so maybe our car market is quite a bit different then the rest of the country. I dont mind the goofy looks, but I never understood the lousy gas mileage and lack of room. We cross shopped one when we bought our 1st gen xB, but I found it to be more expensive, less useful interior space, and lousy gas mileage. It also wasn't as fun to drive as the xB. I will say that it felt more substantial and a little better built, but that wasnt enough to sway me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would have loved to replace my aging Jeep Cherokee with an Element AWD - it would have made a great ski vechicle. Then I looked more closely - it only seats 4 people.

      I don't know if many other people that *didn't* buy the Element felt like I do, but not seating 5 people was an immediate deal breaker for us when considering a vehicle that size.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nissan should bring back the xtrail - problem solved - seats 5, big sunroof, and a decent 4 cylinder

      • 5 Years Ago
      It's a great shame about the Element. It's got more utility than most full-sized SUV. My friend has one and he absolutely loves it. We've been to Bonnaroo, driven up Mt. Washington, drove from Maine to Portland one summer... nothing beats it in terms of hauling all your sh!t and living out of your vehicle. The tent extension thing-- goofy as f_ck, works amazingly well. Polyeurethane floors are just awesome and I think should be in all vehicles. Spilled beer? Windex wipes. Done. The flip up seats so that 2 can sleep is awesome. Thing is ugly, but if I had to live out of a vehicle, it would be the Element.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A friend of mine has one, and it's amazing useful. Ski/snowboard/mountain bike/camp all at once. It's not a racecar, but nobody's getting one to track it. I don't even mind the styling so much - function over form.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is one I don't quite understand. Yeah, the styling is not for everyone. But 15,000?! I see these guys EVERYWHERE! Granted, I haven't seen a lot of 2009s around, but earlier models (including my 2004 EX) are a dime a dozen here around Nashville.

        However, one thing you can't question is the utility and functionality packed in a vehicle shorter than my mother's CTS. I've packed more crap into that thing that most could in the bed of a pickup--and it's all covered from the elements (no pun intended). I've also had many, many people judge her looks, then compliment her interior once they made it inside. In fact, if a group of the guys want to go out for lunch, I'm always the default driver because of the ridiculous legroom in the backseat.

        I could go on forever on everything I love about this thing, but the short of it is this: if I had to buy another brand new vehicle today, I wouldn't hesitate buying another Element, and I think a lot of Element owners would say the same thing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have to agree here. Besides a ups van, this is by a wide margin the most practical and versatile 2-box on the market. And it does it while being nimble in a parking-lot, and occupying surprisingly little space. While there are things about it I can't stand (the whole package handles like a card table, and the transmission tops out pretty fast), I believe the only thing that holds this thing back is the styling. If ever there was a spiritual successor to the VW bus, this is it. It just needs the right visual hook.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @JimBob: Just to clarify, I don't really have a problem with the style of the element, I too see it as form following function. I just see the styling as a barrier between it and higher sales figures. If it had a somewhat more distinctive form I think it wouldd do a lot better.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have owned my E since the first year. Ive been dissapointed in how honda has treated the element overall. its had outstanding utility. and in the midwestern winter proved itself repeatedly. its been reliable, and hauls my monster dogs with ease.
      (without ramps thank you) for the person with the sliding dog problem. no issue. go get puzzle foam flooring. add that as a rear mat. pup will have a lot more purchase. :)

      the drawbacks? its boring. the sunroof in the back i understood the reasoning behind. but couldnt there be a front one? ive seen it done aftermarket .

      some of hondas decisions arent making sense. they had a good shot at a cultish car, and instead they dropped the ball. something they could have learned from scion.

      i cant wait to go back to something old. obsolete and british. :)
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