- this 2010 honda element ex, always a practical (and pet-friendly) choice, includes washable floorboards, moisture-resistant seating fabric, and a low and flat load floor that provides vanlike utility.
- the honda element was sold from 2003 to 2011 and shared its basic underpinnings with the second-generation cr-v.
- bidding on this low-mileage, one-owner element with no reserve ends on february 17.
we love an underdog, which is why we continue to have a soft spot for honda's slow-selling element. sharing its basic underpinnings with the second-generation honda cr-v, the element’s bold and boxy, though not particularly pretty, design helped it stand in stark contrast to its more mundane compact-suv kin. if you missed the chance to get one, the bring a trailer auction site—which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos—has a 45,000-mile element from late in the suv's run, in an online auction that ends thursday, february 17.
the element's brash looks failed to translate to any sort of sales success, with honda moving a peak of 67,478 elements in 2003—less than half the number of cr-vs it sold in the same year. it's not as though honda left the element out to dry, either. sure, the brand could have done more to correct the suv's course, but it nonetheless continued to tweak the element throughout the vehicle's nine model years.
due to this, the 2010 element is arguably among the model's best vintages, as it marks the final year the vehicle was available in racy-looking sc trim or with an optional in-dash navigation system (2010 also saw the debut of the quirky $995 dog friendly package that included items such as a ramp, a cargo-area-mounted kennel and bed, a water bowl, and a small electric fan to keep fido cool in warmer weather), all while benefiting from the powertrain and styling improvements introduced for the 2007 and 2009 model years, respectively. in the case of the former, this meant the car's 2.4-liter inline-four produced 166 horsepower—up from the engine's prior 160-hp rating—and the automatic transmission included five gears, as opposed to the 2003–2006 element's four.
although we still prefer the five-speed manual transmission offered in 2003–2009 elements, we think this element's automatic transmission is far from a deal breaker. after all, with a curb weight of 3648 pounds, this navigation-equipped all-wheel-drive element lacks the tossable dynamics to truly take advantage of the visceral thrill of manually swapping cogs.
when we tested an all-wheel-drive 2010 element ex more than a decade ago, we noted that the square-shaped suv failed to accelerate with much gusto, suffered from a high center of gravity, and its slab sides made it susceptible to crosswinds. in other words, the element's dynamic competence is far from its biggest selling point.
arguably this suv's draw is its funky looks and versatile cabin. with its split tailgate, lack of b-pillars due to its rear-hinged back doors, and aforementioned flat load floor, the element’s insides are essentially a blank slate. need a reliable and reasonably fuel-efficient cargo hauler, or a camping vehicle with the chops to handle the occasional gravel or snow-covered trail? look no further than the element.
the fact that this silver element is a well-maintained one-owner vehicle with less than 45,000 miles on its odometer practically ensures this little suv is truly in its element when partaking in such tasks. even better, this element’s an ex model, which means it packs the likes of trim-specific 16-inch wheels, a center console replete with a removable cooler, and the previously noted in-dash navigation system, which also brought along kit such as a backup camera and a dedicated usb port.
admittedly, you probably won’t want to rely exclusively on the navigation system's outdated maps for directions. that said, it’s still nice to have the setup on-board in the off chance your smartphone gives up the ghost in a foreign locale.
yet, the real feather in the element's proverbial cap may be its relatively strong aftermarket support—particularly in the camping community. want to really take advantage of the element’s flexible and easy-to-clean interior? then save up a few grand to fit the suv with a pop-up camper, in the manner of classic volkswagen vans of yore.
although it went largely unappreciated when new, honda's element is no longer the underdog it once was; many of today's consumers seem to treasure the funky compact suv. the last one up for bat auction was a 55,000-mile 2010 element ex with all-wheel drive and two prior owners. based on the $21,300 final bid that one fetched, this one-owner model with fewer miles, offered with no reserve, is sure to break the $20,000 mark by the time this auction ends later this week.