2007 Honda Element Performance
On balance, reviewers find the performance of the Element satisfying and nimble for a vehicle of this class. "We've found that the Honda Element does offer reasonably peppy around-town response with enough smoothness to make everyday commuting a pleasant enough experience," says Edmunds.
Acceleration and Power
All Elements are powered by the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which is the same i-VTEC four-cylinder engine found in Honda's other small SUV, the CR-V. Kelley Blue Book praises the 166-horsepower engine as "very smooth for a four-cylinder, and quite strong for its size, with a good deal of torque for pulling and passing. The Element will easily cruise at 75 mph, and even accelerate up a highway grade in fifth gear." Drive-by-wire throttle is standard, to increase the responsiveness of the engine.
The optional automatic transmission is well-matched to the engine. It "consistently holds gears a few moments long, allowing drivers to wring out a bit more power than they could with an early-shifting transmission," according to Cars.com. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all Elements achieve 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway with the manual transmission. All-wheel-drive versions equipped with automatic transmissions get 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway, while front-wheel-drive Elements with automatic transmissions get the best gas mileage of the group, at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 25 in highway driving. Such numbers are "on par with most small SUV's in this class and, considering the Element's boxy shape, roomy interior and large frame, that's a commendable achievement," according to Kelley Blue Book.
Handling and Braking
Of the standard suspension found on LX and EX models, Kelley Blue Book says, "The Element's ride and handling characteristics are much more akin to an Accord sedan than a truck-based SUV." Handling characteristics of the Element are generally regarded as quite good, but noise concerns are not uncommon. Car and Driver describes the Element as "surprisingly agile" and adds the compliment that it "feels like a Civic camouflaged in a Coleman tent." At the same time, Cars.com comments, "Speed bumps and potholes intrude both in noise levels and ride comfort, but the suspension seldom feels disconnected or trucklike", adding, "It mitigates body roll unexpectedly well, and it settles down on the highway, resisting undue disruption and making for a relatively quiet cabin." Still, the Element is a tall vehicle, and "it's got a higher center of gravity than a typical car. That means it leans more, which means the driver gets tossed around more," notes Autoweb. But considering the class in which the Element competes, ride and handling is quite good. Our own U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman notes that "The Element's width gives it a feeling of stability and stiffness that's missing in many SUVs"
SC models have a lowered, firmer suspension and faster steering response, but it leaves most reviewers unimpressed. "There is a downside to the SC's sportier suspension tuning," explains New Car Test Drive. "While the steering is surprisingly quick for a vehicle of this type, the springs are still fairly soft, with quite a bit of suspension travel."
The Element is available in front-wheel-drive or with Honda's "Real Time 4-Wheel Drive" system on LX and EX models. SC models are available in front-wheel-drive only.
All 2007 Elements include standard four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist, which increases brake force when drivers brake at higher speeds, reducing braking distance. Braking distances for the Element are squarely within normal limits for this class, though some reviewers reported that braking felt weak. "The pedal in my test car felt sure-footed, though not as strong as many Hondas I've driven," reports Cars.com.
All 2007 Elements are rated for a maximum towing capacity of only 1,500 pounds. Most vehicles in the Affordable Small SUV class manage between 3,500 and 5,000 pounds, placing the 2007 Element near the bottom of the class for towing capacity.