Boxy SUV makes smart use of space



Beneath the funky sheet metal of the Honda Element lies a true SUV— and a stylish and comfortable one at that.


With its square edges and tall ride height, the Honda Element is unlike anything else on our automotive landscape. Beneath its funky sheet metal lies a true utility vehicle — and a stylish and comfortable one at that.


With heaps of head, leg and elbow room for four passengers, plus a vast storage area and assorted cubbies throughout, the Element is great for people who have lots of gear.

Our tester, the top-line SC model, takes things a step further with stylish add-ons like an aero grille, painted bumpers, 18-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension with lowered ride height.

Made more for city slickers than backwoods enthusiasts, this Element also has a carpeted floor, though the practical urethane utility floor that’s standard on other models is still retained in the rear utility area.

The interior is easily accessed through side cargo “freestyle” doors. There’s no B-pillar, so the back seat area is unobstructed and easy to access. The small passenger side door can only be opened with the front doors open, which can be a nuisance with frequent use. Out back, the clamshell tailgate allows longer items to slide in without straining your back, and the large rear window opens to create a canopy for protection from the sun or rain.

The rear seats can be folded lengthwise to create a bed, flipped up and secured to the Element’s side using a carabineer or removed entirely to create more than 2,100 litres of cargo room.

With one seat flipped up to the side and the other removed, we were able to transport a new bathtub in its big, bulky box with the Element’s rear hatch closed.

Available in front-wheel-drive only (all-wheel-drive is available on the mid-range EX-P model), the SC is tweaked for improved handling with stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars, firmer spring and damper tuning and large 225/55R18 tires.

Inside, audiophiles will delight in the SC’s 270-watt, high-output audio system with CD player, MP3/WMA capability, auxiliary audio input, steering wheel mounted audio controls and seven speakers, including a 6.5-inch subwoofer.

For 2007, the entire Element lineup gets freshened styling and injection of power, with 10 additional ponies on tap (up to 166 hp) from its 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine, and a new available 5-speed automatic transmission.

Safety is also beefed up across the line with standard front side airbags, side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor and stability control.

With heaps of head, leg and elbow room, the Element is great for people with lots of gear.

In addition to the $29,990 SC version, the Element is available in LX and EX-P trims, starting at $25,200 and $28,000, respectively.

Both of these models feature Honda’s Fabric for Extreme Conditions (FXC) waterproof seat material — the LX on the front seats only and the EX-P on all four seats. Standard features across the line include air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power doors and windows.

2007 Honda Element SC

Type: Mid-size 5-pass. SUV FWD

Price: $29,990

Engine: 2.4-litre L4 DOHC

Horsepower: 166 @ 5800 rpm

Torque (lb-ft):161 @ 4500 rpm

Highlights: Funky styling, loads of living space, new 5-speed automatic transmission available, rear seats can be made into a bed.

Highlights: Nice looks, power (in the Red Line version), steering feel, agile handling, standard stability control.