NEW FOR 2009:
- Five-speed manual transmission discontinued
- All-wheel drive standard on EX model; available rear sunroof discontinued
- Standard variable intermittent wipers, front and rear splash guards, and wheel-mounted cruise control switches
- EX and SC trim lines add standard exterior temperature display, overhead storage compartment and XM satellite radio
- EX adds standard removable centre storage cooler
- SC adds standard centre console with armrest
For 2009, the Honda Element loses its third pedal; the five-speed manual transmission that was the base unit for 2008 is gone, and the previously optional five-speed automatic is now the sole choice. The mid-level EX trim line is now all-wheel drive only, instead of its previous configuration of front-wheel with optional all-wheel. The Element also adds some new items to its list of standard features, including variable intermittent wipers that replace the previous fixed-intermittent variety, and cruise control switches that move to the steering wheel.
Based on the Honda Civic platform, the Element uses a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with five-speed automatic transmission. The base LX and sporty SC model are front-wheel drive, while the EX uses an all-wheel system.
Features on the LX include 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, tire pressure monitoring system, black door handles, front and rear splash guards, power mirrors, variable intermittent front and rear wipers, cargo area light, centre console, power locks with keyless remote, power windows with auto up/down driver's window, rear privacy glass, cruise control, urethane-coated utility floor, removable rear flip-up seats, front-seat water-resistant fabric, fold-flat-capable seats, and CD stereo with four speakers.
The EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome exhaust finisher, centre console with removable cooler, front seatback pockets, driver's seat bungee cord loops, exterior temperature display, vanity mirrors, map lights, overhead storage compartment, wheel-mounted audio controls, driver and front passenger armrests, front and rear water-resistant seat upholstery, and CD/MP3/WMA stereo with seven speakers, auxiliary input and XM satellite radio.
The SC adds 18-inch alloy wheels, body-colour grille, side sills, door handles and roof mouldings, and first- and second-row carpeted floor; it does not have the water-resistant upholstery.
Extremely useful, the Honda Element includes an easy-clean interior, a boxy, cargo-friendly design, and a compact footprint that makes it simple to spin about in cramped quarters. The rear seats can be folded, or stretched flat to form a lumpy bed for campers; once the seats have been flattened, they can be flipped up and strapped to the body sides to reveal a flat cargo floor. Their configuration means that the Element can only hold four people, though.
Its rear doors are hinged at the back, and open to reveal a pillarless expanse that makes it easy to load and access, but the front doors must be opened before the rear doors can be released. The rear hatch opens clamshell style, which makes a handy seat for children to put on their boots at outdoor events, but it can make it difficult for shorter people to reach across to access cargo.
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