Fun 2 Drive Ratio

The original concept came about at the inaugural X-Games in San Diego, back in 1998. In December of 2000, the first pictures were rendered, and its purpose was announced. It is designed for the ultimate road trip, as Tom Elliot, executive vice president for Honda America said. The best way to describe the Element is to call it a multipurpose adventure tool.

The layout is incredibly simple, and the basic shape of the vehicle is just as simple, yet it has a fresh look that is both retro and futuristic. As innovative as the Element is, Honda is not the first company in recent years to attempt such a feat. A few years ago, Pontiac introduced the Aztek, a multipurpose, go-anywhere vehicle. Unfortunately for Pontiac, the Aztek’s only claim to fame is its name on the list of the 10 ugliest vehicles on the planet– that’s why you haven’t seen many on the road. The Element is not beautiful, but it is handsome. It has the same loveable air that made the Beetle famous, and it is bound to turn heads even in years to come.

Some people say the Element is nothing but an ugly box on wheels. The box-on-wheels aspect is true, but so are Land Rover’s Disco and Range, and DaimlerChrysler’s (Mercedes-Benz) Geländewagen, yet they are the foremost SUVs. Honda hit it right on the nose: utility, style and quality. The interior is modern with retro touches — quality materials throughout. The seats are waterproof; the floors are plastic so they can be wiped clean. The front seats can be easily removed, while the back seats allow you to configure the cabin in 64 different ways. There is also a jack for an MP3 player or a minidisc player. There is room to accommodate a 10-foot surfboard. Obviously, the designers and engineers didn’t just throw metal and plastic together. They spent a lot of time with this project, and it is going to pay off big time.

The Element has potential to be the No. 1 ride of choice among high school and college students alike.

The only aspect of the Element I dislike is the engine. The only available engine is the 160hp four-cylinder from the CRV, mated to either an automatic or a manual transmission. Although this engine is capable and efficient, a six-cylinder would be better. The ride is amazingly not truck-like, smooth and quiet. The Element starts at $16,000 for a very basic model and can easily top out at over $25,000 fully loaded.

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