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2010 Honda Element EX (photos)

Honda's funky Element gets a navigation option and iPod integration for the 2010 model year, but that doesn't entirely make it a tech car.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET
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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