The Element is the first Honda Iíve driven that you might be able to fool me into thinking is not a Honda. And thatís not a bad thing, but itís not necessarily a good thing either.

This is not the classic, subdued look that comes to mind when I think Accord or Civic. The Element intentionally looks ďdifferentĒ and it excels at it. To me, its appearance is a bit " />

Issue: Mar 2003


Cars Worth Noting -- 2003 Honda Element



by Gerry Kobe

2003 Honda ElementThe Element is the first Honda Iíve driven that you might be able to fool me into thinking is not a Honda. And thatís not a bad thing, but itís not necessarily a good thing either.

This is not the classic, subdued look that comes to mind when I think Accord or Civic. The Element intentionally looks ďdifferentĒ and it excels at it. To me, its appearance is a bit off-putting, but I concede that the kids at my daughterís elementary school gaped at it like I was doing a flyby in an F-14 Tomcat.

But what disappoints me is that neither the powertrain nor the chassis is very ďHonda-esque.Ē Normally, when I think about Honda engines and transmissions, my mind goes to a place where it is in awe at how so much mechanical activity becomes so controlled and peaceful.

But not this time.

My mind went to a place all right, but I think it was Korea. The Element powertrain exuded that edgy roughness that the Korean automakers are working so hard to get rid of. The same is true of the chassis, which felt solid enough, but sent plenty of audible feedback into the boxy echoic interior. My daughter didnít notice it but I sure did.

Even if Elementís target audience forgives it those trespasses, Honda should go to belts-on-seat rather than anchor them to the suicide door. When I tried to let somebody in the back seat while ďbuckled up,Ē I almost got yanked out of the vehicle.

Finally, a Honda thatís not perfect!

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