2010 Honda Element - quirky and functional
I had my doubts about the Honda Element right up to the time I first drove one. When it was first introduced, it was supposedly aimed at youths as a versatile beach/party vehicle. It never really caught on with the kids.
As a box, the Element is the absolute most useful box out there. Having the rear doors open suicide style (hinged at the rear) and the front doors open normally (hinged at the front) gives a huge - HUGE - opening to the rear seat area.
While visiting our kids, who have two children under four, in Denver recently we learned that they are considering a new car because their compact four door is too tight with two kiddie seats, and it takes forever to load the little ones in. The Element immediately sprang to mind. Easy to load and the rear seats are stadium style (higher than the fronts) meaning the kids have a view.
One other plus is the fact that the Element is available in all-wheel-drive, a huge plus in Denver.
There is nothing special about the Element other than its utility. It's a box powered by a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, the only transmission is a five-speed automatic, and it doesn't make a ton of power (166 hp). It is rated at 25 mpg on the highway and it can tow up to 1500 pounds.
Every time I drive an Element I reconfirm what a great vehicle this is; whether you have a large family, collect antiques, travel with dogs (Honda has a dog friendly option that includes a ramp to ease entry and exit for Fido), whatever, the Honda Element is one of those things you say, "Why didn't someone think of this before?"
The Element has a starting price of $20,525 and goes up to around $26,000. If you need usefulness, try an Element.