The Honda Element has lots of room for passengers and cargo with a flexible interior designed to handle all combinations of people and stuff. The front seats have acres of headroom and there's no center tunnel between the front seats to get in the way.
The rear seats are roomy as well. They are raised off the floor a couple of inches higher than the front seats so that rear seat passengers can look over the front seats for better visibility. However, we found rear-seat passengers complained (some bitterly) about not being able to see signs and buildings; they have to stoop to see out the windshield. This makes the Element a poor place for taking a group sightseeing.
One of the most talked-about features on the Element is its pillarless rear-hinged doors. With no B-pillars to get in the way, there's easy access to the rear. For safety reasons, however, the rear side doors cannot be opened unless the front door has been opened first. Likewise, the rear doors have to be closed before the front side doors can be closed. This is a hassle when dropping off back-seat passengers because the front-seat occupants have to unbuckle their seatbelts and open their doors to let rear passengers in or out. Pull up next to a wall and your passengers will find themselves stuck in an unexpected, intimate party, as they get trapped between the open doors.
When it comes to moving cargo, this Honda is in its element. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) It's great for getting groceries. The center-opening doors allow easy loading of bulky objects without having a pillar to get in the way. The rear seats fold down easily, and can be swung up to the side, leaving an uninterrupted flat floor space. The front passenger seatback can be folded forward to make room for a 10-foot surfboard, and that would still leave room for the driver and one passenger behind the driver. All the seats, including the driver's, can be folded back to make a large, albeit uncomfortable, double bed. When parked, the Element can be set up to serve as a giant locker for surfboards and other large items, a great feature. The keyless remote unlocked only the driver's door on our Element, however, which was inconvenient.
The floor is covered in a urethane-coated material that resists water, dirt and scratches, and is easily cleaned. The front seats are coated in a waterproof material designed for easy cleaning as well. On LX and EX, the rear seats are covered with the same material.
Storage areas abound. The backs of the front seats have large storage pockets. On the EX, both the front and rear seats on the driver's side also have bungee cords on the back to secure even larger objects. (For example, says Honda, you could strap skateboards to the backs of both left-side seats.) Cup holders can be found on the backs of folded seats.
The dashboard reflects the simple design of the Element. The gauges are contained in three deep pods. Climate and radio controls are well placed. The EX provides an auxiliary jack for an MP3 player, such as an Apple iPod, so the stored music can be played back directly through the Element's sound system. The 270-watt system included with the EX is pretty decent and includes a large subwoofer beneath the dashboard.