2009 Honda Element Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
FAST FACTS
  • Element gets a facelift
  • Front fenders are metal instead of composite material
  • Interior features brighter color schemes, new trim, and revised switchgear and gauges
  • LX model adds a restyled center console with a removable cooler/storage box
  • EX and SC models with navigation system gain a USB port and a rearview camera
  • EX and SC add new overhead console with modular bins

Introduction

Honda launched the Element as a 2003 model. The idea was to create a vehicle for 20-something males, with rear access doors, removable rear seats, and a water-resistant urethane-coated "utility floor," but a much wider demographic discovered that the boxy exterior shape meant a roomy and versatile interior. The Element received a makeover in 2007 that included updated exterior and interior styling, more power for its engine, and enhanced safety features, as well as a new Element SC model with special design cues and a sport-tuned suspension.

For 2009, the Element gets another facelift that includes a new front grille and bumper design, restyled front fenders (fashioned in metal instead of a composite material), a new hood, squared wheel arches, and new headlight and taillight configurations. On the inside, the 2009 Element has an interior update with new brighter colors, titanium-look trim, new seat fabrics, revised gauges and switchgear, and newly available equipment. The LX model adds a restyled center console with a removable cooler/storage box, while EX and SC models add overhead console storage areas with modular compartments. EX and SC models with the navigation system also add a rearview camera and a USB port.

Model Lineup

The 2009 Honda Element is available in LX, EX and SC trim levels. The LX comes with power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; cruise control; air conditioning; tilt steering column; cloth upholstery with water-resistant front seats; height-adjustable driver's seat; 4-speaker, 120-watt AM/FM/CD stereo; numerous storage bins, beverage holders and cargo hooks; and P215/70R16 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers. The EX features a 7-speaker, 270-watt audio system with MP3-capable CD player; XM satellite radio; steering wheel audio controls; additional storage bins; outside temperature gauge; driver and front passenger fold-down armrests; center console with removable cooler; modular overhead storage compartments; and alloy wheels. LX and EX models equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) get a removable glass roof skylight for the rear seats. The SC adds full carpeting in place of the utility floor in LX and EX models, plus a unique center console, a lowered and sport-tuned suspension, and "Street Custom" exterior styling with P225/55R18 tires on unique alloy wheels, an "aero" grille, and projector-beam headlamps. EX and SC models are offered with a navigation system with voice activation and a rearview camera.

Hardware

All 2009 Honda Elements are powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 166 hp at 5800 rpm and 161 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. Honda offers the Element with a choice of 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. SC models are front-wheel drive (FWD), while LX and EX models are available with an AWD system that Honda calls Real Time 4WD. EPA fuel-economy estimates are 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway for FWD or AWD Elements with the manual transmission, 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway for FWD automatics, and 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway for AWD automatics.

Safety

Along with traction control and electronic stability control, other standard safety features on all 2009 Honda Elements include dual front air bags; torso-protecting front side air bags; head-protecting side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitor; and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. A rearview camera is also available.

The Honda Element has earned an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) "Top Safety Pick" rating, thanks to "Good" ratings (IIHS' top mark) in front-, side-, and rear-impact tests and the availability of standard electronic stability control. The Element also fared well in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, with perfect 5-star ratings for front and side impacts. However, the Element received a 3-star rollover rating from the agency.

Technology

All AWD 2009 Honda Elements use Honda's Real Time 4WD system, which is fully mechanical and does not rely on electronics. Should the front wheels slip, power is directed to the rear wheels until traction is recovered.
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