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#7

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $13,530 - $16,818
Original MSRP: $20,525 - $25,585
MPG: 20 City / 25 Hwy
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2010 Honda Element Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2010 Honda Element isn't the sportiest or most nimble SUV, but its performance is adequate enough. Among its downsides is a noisy, sometimes bumpy ride.

  • "The four-cylinder 2010 Honda Element won't win many stoplight drag races, but it delivers peppy enough performance for most daily tasks. The four-wheel independent suspension endows the Element with surprisingly responsive and agile handling, though its ride is noticeably firmer than the average compact crossover..." -- Edmunds
  • "As for performance, the little four-cylinder engine works surprisingly well with the bulky Element, giving it ready power, at least at low speeds. Fuel economy is only about average, as is handling." -- CNET
  • "Driving the Element is a pleasurable experience. The vehicle is easy to maneuver and provides a pretty smooth ride." -- About.com
  • "Comfort depends on where you sit. Rear occupants nestle between the wheels and thus endure marked chop and thump over bumps. Front-seaters are more comfortable, but the ride still can be stiff and jiggly on patchy pavement and washboard surfaces." -- Consumer Guide
  • "If you value driving comfort as much as dog-friendliness, you may be disappointed, however. The Element is a noisy ride and visibility toward the rear and sides is not the best." – DogCars.com

Acceleration and Power

According to most, the 2010 Honda Element's engine is responsive, even if it isn’t the quickest out there. The SUV's sole engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 166 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission.

The Element’s fuel economy isn’t horrible, but it isn’t great either. According to the EPA, the front-wheel-drive Element should achieve 20/25 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel-drive model rates at 18/23 mpg city/highway.

The Scion xB earns much better fuel economy and even shaves about $4,600 off the Element’s price. Its base fuel economy rating is 22/28 mpg city/highway and though its engine has slightly less horsepower, reviewers say it’s perkier, as the xB weighs less than the Element.

The Honda Element is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, which is significantly less than most affordable small SUVs. If you really need to tow large loads, check out the Dodge Nitro. It has a 5,000-pound towing capacity and two more powerful V6 engine options. It also has a funky, retro-style exterior that stands out just as much as the Element’s. However, its strengths end there – the Nitro costs slightly more than the Element, has an even worse fuel economy rating, and has low-grade interior materials.

  • "With a pudgy curb weight of 3,500 or so pounds, the Element isn't exactly fleet; we timed an automatic EX at 10 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash." -- Edmunds 
  • "Driving around town, we were pleased at how well the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine moves the Element, which reads like a large car when you stand next to it. That engine, the only one available for the Element, makes 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque, not overly impressive numbers, but the car felt very responsive when we pressed on the gas." -- CNET 
  • "The 2.4-liter inline-four is good for 166 horses at 5,800 rpm and 161 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm -- enough to give the Element plenty of spunk off the line and great around-town usable power. We had no complaints in this regard or with the tester's five-speed automatic." -- Autoblog 
  • "I appreciated the acceleration of the 4-cylinder engine. I expected it to be stodgy, but I was pleasantly surprised by its quickness and power." -- DogCars.com
  • "The Honda's (HMC) 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine was more powerful, and felt more refined, than the four-bangers in the others, though xB's is not bad. Element's power advantage is partly negated by the extra weight." -- USA Today

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Honda Element rides well, but doesn’t feel as comfortable as many crossover SUVs. Though comfort really isn’t its forte, the Element will get you around just fine. An all-wheel drive system (which Honda calls four-wheel drive) is optional and engages for maximum tire grip when slippage is detected. It can help the Element through slick terrain and only adds about $1,250 on to the base price.

  • "Steering is excellent, and the Element's purposeful stance translates to nice road feel. I figured it might feel tippy in the corners, but the opposite was true. It's great to drive, frankly -- more involving and rewarding than, say, the softer-feeling (though substantially less costly) Nissan Cube.” -- Autoblog 
  • "The suspension is tuned on the stiff side, making long road trips a bit uncomfortable. And the upright seats do not really contribute to lounging. But the airy interior won't make you feel cramped.” -- CNET
  • "Living in a big city, I do a lot of parallel parking. The Element was easy to park, especially because of the backup camera (available in the EX with Navigation -- I recommend it).” -- About.com

Next Steps: 2010 Honda Element

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