The Honda Element is a crossover SUV manufactured by Honda and released in the United States, Canada and Japan in 2003. Although the Element is based on the CR-V, its dimensions are significantly different. The length is a foot shorter, the wheelbase has been trimmed 1.7 inches, the roofline is 7.8 in higher, the front track 1.7 in narrower, and the floor about an inch lower. This SUV was designed to slot below the CR-V, and compete against entry-level SUVs (such as the Ford Escape) and crossover hatchbacks (including the Chrysler PT Cruiser).
Powering the Element is Honda's 2.4 L K24A4 i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that also sees duty in the Accord and CR-V. For the Element's purposes, it produces 156 hp at 5500 rpm and 160 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.
The Element rides on a highly modified CR-V chassis, and because it has no visible B-pillars, it sports reinforced joints, strengthened lower side sills, larger crossmembers, enlarged rocker panels, and five bulkheads per side. The Element is available with front-wheel drive or Honda's optional Real Time™ four-wheel drive system. This is a hydraulically-actuated system that operates only when front wheel slippage occurs. It was discontinued in Japan with the 2006 model. The Element is currently built in East Liberty, Ohio.
The Element concept vehicle (Model X) was introduced in 2001. The Model X concept was conceived around achieving ideal functionality for a cross-country road trip, hauling surfboards, mountain bikes, snowboards or just about anything else as it combines some of the best features of a pickup truck and an SUV. The Model X was first conceived by a core group of young R&D engineers in 1998. They wanted to develop a vehicle that they could use for their activities and conducted informal on-site focus groups at colleges, beaches, campsites and in the mountains.
The 4-seat Element is designed to carry large and possibly messy loads. The floor is made of textured urethane that is easy to clean; the fabric is tough and stain-resistant; the individual rear seats recline, fold up, and are completely removable to leave a large load space. The rear clamshell tailgate arrangement is large and the vehicle is tall, allowing large loads to be carried. The rear side suicide doors open backward, so there is no central pillar and this gives unobstructed access for side loading.
Original MSRP range: US$16,100-$20,850
Colors available: Sunset Orange Pearl, Shoreline Mist Metallic, Satin Silver Metallic, Nighthawk Black Pearl, Galapagos Green Metallic, and Eternal Blue Pearl
The 2003 Element was launched with two trim levels - DX and EX. A service bulletin was release regarding the windshield flange surface being uneven. This bulletin along with the warranty obligated Honda of America to replace the windshield at no cost to the owner. Four-wheel drive models come with a large rear sunroof.