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The Honda Element Has an Incredibly Underappreciated Interior


When talking about great interiors, quality of materials and beautiful design is what comes to mind. Manufacturers like Audi, BMW, and Lexus are at the forefront of this. I drove a 2019 Lexus ES350 a few weeks ago, and I had mountains of compliments about the new design. Something that is forgotten, though, is functionality. This is where the Honda Element takes the cake, as it can easily haul it wherever you need to go — and it can also bring along basically whatever you need to bring.

Released for the 2003 model year, the Honda Element was a quirky design put together by a group of young R&D engineers. Built on the CR-V chassis, the Element was intended to be the perfect Sports Utility Vehicle for an active crowd — and the real party piece is the interior. Honda’s designers put together one of the most ingenious interiors of any car I have seen — not due to the quality of its materials, but rather the functionality of everything.

Honda Element interior

As you can see from these pictures, the seats can be moved in seemingly endless ways, creating nearly the perfect vehicle for any need. Do you need to haul four people? Perfect, there are four seats with seat belts. Do you need to haul a dresser? Perfect, all the seats will fold to the side, creating a rather large floor! Do you need to crash for the night, and there are no hotels nearby? Perfect, all of the seats will fold flat — making a great bed.

dog-friendly Honda Element 

To further the usability of the vehicle, Honda made the floors out of scratch resistant thermoplastic polyolefin, and then covered them in stain resistant fabric. This obviously makes it great for dogs, a fact that was reinforced when the Element was awarded the “Dog Car of the Year” award from Dogcars.com in 2007. To celebrate, Honda made the Honda Element “Dog Friendly Concept Car” for the 2009 New York Auto Show, which turned into a $995 “Dog Friendly” dealer installed package that included a custom fitted soft sided crate, a 12V fan in the cargo area, a portable ramp, dog-patterned seat covers and floor mats, and special paw print badges for the fenders and tailgate.

The seats were also designed to be easily removed. This somehow makes the Element even better, as cargo capacity can be expanded to an insane 128.7 cu ft. For comparison, a Chevrolet Suburban with the second row seats folded down has 121.7 cu ft. of cargo room. That’s seven less cubic feet, while also transporting the same amount of people! And unlike the Suburban, the load floor is actually at a comfortable height. And the boxy shape of the vehicle makes for an area you can put almost anything in, including motorcycles and scooters that could be too tall for anything else.

People have even gone to the great lengths of modifying their Element for whatever they need.

Honda Element camper

Honda Element office

Honda Element wheelchair accesible

Clearly, the Honda Element is as versatile as almost any vehicle ever made. And the interior isn’t the only good part. The clamshell doors allow for easy ingress and egress for both the front and rear passengers. And you could get one with all-wheel drive and a manual transmission, for peppy performance. Unless you have a family of five, I don’t see any reasons not to own one. If you agree, click here to find one on Autotrader near you. If you come across a Dog Friendly version, let me know. My greyhounds would appreciate it.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. With the current crossover/SUV craze, I think Honda is stupid for not rebooting the Element. This kind of vehicle hits the sweet spot for capability, versatility and economy, and another 17 years of technology would only make it better.

    • Bingo, The Element is actually cool while all other CUV’s are uninspired people movers… This is another reason people actually are warming up to Azteks now and if you like the Aztek I would STRONGLY recommend the Buick Rendezvous, One of my favorite vehicles I ever owned.

  2. The part that really shows attention to practical detail is the fact that they put the rear cupholders between the seats on the actual cushions. That way there’s no center console and no floor cupholder to remove, just fold away with the seats.

  3. these came out around the same time as the Pontiac Aztec… and like the Aztec… was styled in a non conventional way.. and yet unlike the Aztec, people did not seem to hate it… which is something I never understood….

  4. Funny you post this, Yesterday I was in traffic next to an Element and I realized how big it is next to my Focus. Having never actually seen one up close, as I was never interested, I thought it was about the same size as a Soul or Cube. Now I think it might be a great 3rd car, eventually for my youngest to drive to school. 

  5. My mother has one of these (2007 in orange-ish color).  I like it..mostly.  The road noise you get in this thing is amazinly loud. I would have to dynamat the hell out of it to make it a daily driver.  The seatbelts are built into the seat back and are not as easy to reach like a normal belt. The windshield’s shape makes me feel like I am watching a movie on a really wide screen TV.

    The cubby holes and storage are fantastic though, and it is easy to keep clean. I’d consider one as a second car for sure. Would really be great for camping.

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