2006 Element New Car Test Drive
The Honda Element is a versatile box on wheels, combining unique and practical features with utilitarian chic.
Honda designed the Element for young adventurers who need to haul wet or messy gear, but with the security of an enclosed cargo area. The Element combines those practical considerations with car-like performance and economy.
Its durable, scratch-resistant interior is a big part of the charm here. The seats are designed to get wet and the back seats can be easily removed, serving up a huge cargo area. Loading and unloading gear curbside is aided by the Element's low step-in height. These features also make the Element a good dog car. Canines can easily walk in through one of the side doors, the interior is dog friendly, and there's not much to damage or stain.
In spite of its utilitarian appearance, the Element drives more like a car than a truck, and it's built with components from the Honda Civic.
Honda introduced the Element as a 2003 model and there haven't been a lot of changes since, but the 2006 Element features a host of equipment changes and adds a new trim level called the EX-P.
The Element is powered by Honda's i-VTEC 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It comes with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission ($800). All models are available with front-wheel drive (2WD) or Honda's Real Time 4-Wheel Drive (4WD). The 4WD models feature a large rear skylight that tilts open or removes completely and stores inside the vehicle. The 2006 Honda Element comes in three trim levels, LX, EX and EX-P.
The LX ($17,750) and LX 4WD ($19,150) come with air conditioning with micron filtration, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, cruise control, an adjustable steering column, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo.
The EX ($19,625) and EX 4WD ($21,025) add side-impact airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS); aluminum wheels; remote keyless entry; a passenger-side armrest; and a seven-speaker, 270-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with XM Satellite Radio capability plus an auxiliary input for MP3, WMA, or other digital media. Silver EX models are accented by blue cladding and trim, while Red and Magnesium EX models feature black trim.
The new EX-P ($20,125) and EX-P 4WD ($21,525) feature all of the goodies of the EX, but are distinguished by body-colored fenders and door handles and some unique color options, including Tango Red Pearl and Tangerine Metallic.
Safety features on all Elements include front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters to reduce the chance of belt-related injuries. The Element earned a five-star rating for both driver and front-seat passenger in the federal (NHTSA) frontal crash test. EX models include ABS and front-seat side-impact airbags for torso protection. (Curtain airbags, designed for head protection in a side impact or rollover, are not available on the Element.).