The U.S.-built Honda Element was launched in 2003, and since then has received only minor updates, including adding a navigation option in 2009. Honda classifies it as an SUV, but its style and dimensions are more that of a minivan.
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The Element's unique look has proved polarizing, with the car gaining fans and detractors. But it is unmistakable and stands out from all other cars in the automotive world.
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Since its launch, the Element has been powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine makes 166 horsepower, while getting 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway in EPA testing.
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A console between the rear seats limits the Element to four occupants, but the interior is quite spacious. The rear-half doors can only be opened once the front doors are open, which is a minor inconvenience.
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The Element's ride is stiff, but not uncomfortable over short-to-medium distances. The car can be had in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
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The Element benefits from its particularly tall cargo space. That space can be maximized by folding the rear seats into the sides of the car.
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Not much in the way of cabin electronics was available before 2009. But now the Element can be had with navigation and iPod support.
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The Element has a good steering radius for urban environments, given its carrying capacity.
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We were disappointed in the lack of a trip computer in the Element, which would show range to empty and average fuel economy.
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Our Element came equipped with a five-speed automatic, a transmission Honda has been using for years. The Element also comes with a manual transmission.
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Although we like the fact that the Element now has navigation, this is a very old system, with low-resolution maps and only basic functionality.
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The Places menu contains one of the most complete points-of-interest databases we've seen, covering everything from restaurants to retail stores.
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To get at the CD player and PC Card slot, the LCD folds down. The PC Card slot is meant to be used with a PC Card adapter for SD Cards.
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A USB pigtail supports USB drives and other mass storage devices, and can connect with an iPod cable.
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Although it has seven speakers and a 270 watt amp, we found the audio from the stereo sounded muffled, without much dynamic range.
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