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Discussion Starter #1
I have just spent a MISERABLE week in a new Trail Blazer WITH the new seat mounted seatbelts. It was an experience I do not care to repeat again as long as I live. If the SC seatbelts are like this they WILL NOT be comfortable for people under 5'5" tall. Both the driver and passenger seatbelts in the Trail Blazer wore a sore spot in my neck after only 30 minutes in the seat. There is definitely no way to adjust them - wherever they fall on you is where they stay. This was an immediate concern for me as soon as I saw them on the SC-E and after having tried out a set for 10 (miserable) days in our rental Trail Blazer I can say with assurance that seat mounted seatbelts only work for taller people. My husband (who had a comfort issue with the seat) had no prob with the seatbelt height or fit - he is 5'11-ish.
Unless Honda has done something magical with theirs (and there really isn't much one can do) those seat mounted belts are going to be great for alleviating the door opening/seatbelt issue, BUT will cause a whole new one for under the avg height drivers. One of my MUST HAVES was a comfortable or adjustable seatbelt...the seat mounted ones will be neither I'm afraid. I am now glad to have the E I have if the 07 and newer models are going to have this type seatbelt. Are carmakers forgetting that not everyone is 5'5" and over? This certainly appears to be a new trend in SUVs and I for one, do not like it.
I will go check out the SC and the other E's when they are in the showrooms in Fall but I now have even more fear that the new model's seatbelts are not going to work for me or anyone near my size. This is a questionable "improvement" - it's giving up comfort for some for convenience for all.
 

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Whatever you do, don't judge one seat/seatbelt design from another manufacturer/designer. Why get into a panic over this before ever seeing/sitting in the 2007 Element seats?

There are a few variables that can affect how the seatbelt falls onto someone's shoulder. The height of the seatback is one variable and it is a big one. As is the width of the seat and how far to the side the belt is mounted.



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Discussion Starter #3
I said I would be the 1st in line to check out the new seats in the SC and regular E to see how the seatbelts fit - HOWEVER.....
I spent 10 (desperate) days looking over the Trail Blazer design in hopes SOMETHING could be done and it looks to be pretty similar to the prototype SC pictures in both height and placement on the seat. Is it identical... probably not - but similar...yes. The problem I see is that there is only so much latitude on a seat mounted system vs the door mounted. The seat height is tied to the safety system and therefore is limited by certain parameters within each vehicle's design - similar to the current E I am assuming. That seatbelt HAS to be affixed within the SEAT and the single "bucket" seat has built-in limitations in width and height and this built-in design lacks any adjustability AT ALL as to placement on the body OR height/angle. Unless the E has somehow managed to make that single seat incredibly wide at the top or a lot shorter or taller than would appear logical there is going to be a problem. I'm sorry, but being the logical person I am I just do not see that there is any way that ONE placement WITHIN THE SEAT is going to work for everyone - especially now that I have experienced it in person. Most folks will be fine with it, just not me or most of my size range (I am 5'1").
There already IS a problem in other manufacturer's vehicles and this is the 1st year for this design for them too. IMHO it's lousy design for the "masses" - of which I am apparently NOT a member. Honda is just another car company trying to adapt new designs to their vehicles - likely it's a safer and less expensive design too. The problem is that some people are not "average" and this design is not going to work for them in ANY vehicle. It's like going backwards 15 years - again design for the masses and to heck with anyone who doesn't fit - so what if it's uncomfortable - we have no choice but to wear them so we will, even if they HURT. It's lousy but just the way things are.
 

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Thanks for the heads up Tango (no pun intended). We have, of course, discussed this issue elsewhere when the SC was first announced - my wife being "vertically challenged" as well - but I'll now add the Trail Blazer to my list of vehicles with crappy seatbelt designs.

I take your point, Larry, and I have some faith that Honda has considered its design carefully and has learned from others' mistakes. I still have doubts like Tango, however, that any system like this is a good thing for short drivers and passengers. My wife has yet to find ANY seat mounted seatbelt design that is comfortable for her. Many of the non-height adjustable types are also pretty crappy in terms of fit for her as well.

I hope I'm wrong about Honda's design. If it isn't significantly better that everything else currently out there and Honda makes the seat mounted design standard for the Element, we will be looking elsewhere when we next look for a vehicle.
 

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Chief Has Been Element Owner
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We have an 03 Envoy (the Envoy and TrailBlazer have been mirrored off each other since around that time). These have the in seat seatbelts. I am 5-8ish and my wife is 5-3. I personally think they are rather comfortable, as does my wife.

At times they can rub, but ONLY when you sit a little crooked...such as if on a long trip and need to move around a bit for a change. But the general standard fit is pretty nice.

So I would not say these types of belts will be a problem for everyone under 5-5.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The Trail Blazer is the 1st rental we have had with the seat mounted seatbelts. We rent pretty frequently so I am anxious to see what other vehicles are going to this design in their new models. I have a sick feeling that many will be - it's the new "thing" so to speak. While I have not heard why, one must assume it proves safer in tests AND/OR is less expensive to produce - logically there can be no other reasons so many manufacturers are suddenly embracing this change.
The new design I am sure tests well in short term tests AND it seems to be fine for people of an average size. However I found that after a couple of hours it was VERY uncomfortable and after 4 hours it was pure torture. I got a nylon burn on the side of my neck, I had back pain from trying to adjust my position for more comfort, my arm and shoulder are still painful and achy. It wasn't any different driving - although the seat was more adjustable there was still no comfortable position for me.
I am not trying to malign Honda or the Element here - I drive one and dearly love it. I am merely trying to point out that this new "in-seat" restraint system everyone is so in-love with right now is likely going to prove not to work for smaller people. It remains to be seen if ANYONE cares or can modify said system to work for people of all sizes. Presently I can say that the Trail Blazer's design doesn't work and cannot be adjusted to work better. The Honda design LOOKS fairly similar in positioning, height and design. Only trying it in person will end this debate and I intend to check it out as soon as it is available.
 

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integrated seatbelts into the seats have been around for many years. Convertibles have gone to this design quite a few years ago.

I know quite a few people who are close to or under 5' and some own convertibles with integrated belts. None of them have complained about the seatbelts hitting them in the wrong place. I've found some in the past to be too low, but that has always been a result of the seatback being too low, something that doesn't generally happen anymore with designers now more concerned with safety.

Tango, I'll tell ya what... you purchase an SC or any other 2007 since they will all be coming with the integrated belts and I'll take them off your hands. You can have my non-integrated seats. :) Yes, I plan on buying a set of the new seats as soon as they become available or as soon as I can find a crashed one with good seats.



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My Dear Wife has always been bothered by that seatbelt neck abrasion which you mentioned, Tango. Many years ago she made a foot-long sleeve of sheepskin which she fastened on the seat belt where it rubs her neck.

Now, we see that Walmart sells the exact same thing in the automotive section, so I guess it was a "good idea."

(Yet another chance to become a millionaire was missed... <sigh> :shock: )
 

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The new in seat design will make it possible to let passengers out of the vehicle while the people in the front seat stay belted. That was one major complaint of a friend who has a 2003 Element.

My dodge quad cab has the seat belts in the seat and it rather nice that the suicide door can be opened without having to unbuckle.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Getting closer to being able to actually "test" my theory. And yes, I remember the old seatbelts and hated them. Finally car makers got smart and made them height adjustable and now with this new supposedly "safer" (and likely cheaper) in-seat system we are right back to where we were before - with seatbelts being "one size fits all".
I KNOW it isn't a problem for most of you...I know you mean well but telling me that it isn't a problem for you or that other seatbelts are the same way and THEIR owners don't have a problem doesn't make the ill-fitting in-seat belts work a darn bit better for me and everyone else who isn't a "standard" size. If you have never experienced this problem you cannot understand how dreadfully uncomfortable and PAINFUL it is. And I DO choose a car based on whether or not the seatbelt rubs a hole in my neck. If it rubs and cannot be adjusted it goes OFF my list. Period. No exceptions. I spent years with "sheepskin covers" on my seatbelts and I won't go there again. Then I had no choice, it was whatever was the best car for the $$ I had (and I was happy to have it). I can now afford any vehicle I want and I want one in which the seatbelt fits me.
To be honest, it has been years since I have had to deal with this problem. Glorious, wonderful years in which almost all seatbelts had a height adjustments. This idyllic period in my life came to an abrupt halt when we rented the Trail Blazer with the "newest, latest" integrated in-the-seat seat belts. It was one of the most uncomfortable trips I have EVER taken. I quickly realized THIS is the "new" trend in seatbelts.
Now I know that the E/Honda MAY be the exception.... in fact I am HOPING they are the exception because they will prove that there is a "right" way to design in-seat safety belts. BUT...if Honda's prove to be the same as the others I have had the unfortunate experience to drive/ride in I will know that I had better keep my E in pristine condition because I won't be buying a new one until they come to their senses and go back to making the belts height adjustable.
 

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Chief Has Been Element Owner
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Tango, I think (in my opinion of course) Honda DID "come to their senses." One of the biggest complaints anyone has had for a vehicle with such utility was having to undo the front seatbelt to let rear passangers out.

I know it is a comfort issue for you...that is obvious :) But lets face it...the E is not Honda's flagship "comfortable" vehicle. To me they sacrificed a slight bit of comfort for even great utility...isn't that what they are going for with the E? If so it seems they are coming to their senses, not going away from it.

My only point up to now is this seatbelt design is not new, and has proven to be safer in some tests since the belt attachment is not anchored to the pilar or door which is susecptible to being damaged during side collisions. If that is also the case, the increased sucurity + increased utility seems like a positive, rather than a negative for a low priced, utilitariun vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Indeed, it is more utilitarian and it does address an issue for the E in particular. Sadly though, I don't think this design is going to be limited to those vehicles where there is a "need". Likely this is going to end up being the "new" standard in every model of Honda (and not just Honda, but other manufacturers also). Is it safer? Maybe. Is it more comfortable or better for everyone? No!
So a percentage of the population is now going to be FORCED into an uncomfortable safety feature for "our own good". Great... she said, with more than a hint of sarcasm. As always we reward "sameness" and punish uniqueness.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
As everyone knows I expressed my misgivings about the "new" in-seat belts in the 07 E's for those under the "average guy height". I went yesterday and finally drove an 07. The seat belt is NOT comfortable in any way for me (5'1"). It runs across my neck leaving a "welt". It is similar to every car I have driven with the seatbelt built into the seat - it does NOT fit shorter people properly as the position is too high and it cannot be adjusted lower. On the drivers side the belt is positioned so that no matter WHAT you do the belt runs at an angle that places it from just above and to the left of the ear running down across the neck and does not fit across the center of the chest but rather more to the right side. On the passenger side it is similar but it veers more to the the left side from above the right ear. Keeping such an ill-fitting belt in a "proper" position becomes a constant dance of "adjust and fidgit". The sales person suggested a padded "belt cover" to alleviate the problem. I spent most of the 70's and all the 80's & early 90's using a belt cover because belts were not height adjustable. We have gone BACKWARD. After years of having a seat belt that was comfy and fit properly we are now back to the 80's in car design.
The in-seat design is indeed nice for the passengers but since I am driving I feel MY comfort is primary. I would not reject a car because of slight hassles for my infrequent passengers....I will reject it if the belt I MUST WEAR leaves a permanent mark and raw spot on MY neck and pulls at and mars the fabric of my clothing. Sorry, but Honda has taken the cheap and easy way out with this design - and it is NOT any better than the dozens of other vehicles with the in-seat belts. This IS IMHO, NOT an improvement.
Sorry Honda, I will not be buying this, or any other vehicle where the required safety device makes it like sitting down for a torture session. I am supremely happy with my 06 and will now plan to keep it until the in-seat belts are again an uncomfortable memory.
And a note for you guys. Best take the wife/girlfriend/sister with you to test drive the E because while the belts MAY fit YOU just great, chances are they are NOT going to fit the lady in your life if she is under 5'7". And ladies always find a way NOT to ride or drive a car they don't like.
 

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wow, that sucks for the smaller driver (at least 1/3 of the population, no?) that the new ones aren't more adjustable.

good thing that the element is honda, and you can get 300k on the 2006! that should hold you until 2016 or so, when they will finally have it figured out.
 

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biocube said:
wow, that sucks for the smaller driver (at least 1/3 of the population, no?) that the new ones aren't more adjustable.

good thing that the element is honda, and you can get 300k on the 2006! that should hold you until 2016 or so, when they will finally have it figured out.

No I bet tango gets more than 10 years out of hers, she doesn't put near the amount of miles on hers that most people do! How many are you up to now tango?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
JPH102900 said:
No I bet tango gets more than 10 years out of hers, she doesn't put near the amount of miles on hers that most people do! How many are you up to now tango?
A whopping 1400 or so.....having ones self as a boss has a FEW perks, LOL. Our 95 Vette (was "my car" before the E) has only 54K at almost 12 years old. Yep, we figure if I stay at this rate I will still be driving a "new" Element in 2015. BTW - I also try NOT to drive - if the weather is nice and things permit, I walk. The vet, drugstore and grocery store are all less than a mile from our house, the dry cleaners pick up at home and almost anything you could want is within 2 miles of our house. Doing MY part to reduce my footprint on the planet :)
Oh, and I DO baby my E like a "show car" - only hand wash and detail, keep it spotless and park it in the garage. Always keep up on Maint - keep records of EVERYTHING. I already planned to drive it a long time, I truly LOVE my E - yes, to Mr Tango's dismay, even more than the Vette :-o - which I have not driven since the E arrived last January.
And I AM bummed about the seat belt anyway, Honda should know better - their "home market" contains a HUGE majority of smaller than average drivers. A well engineered vehicle should be comfortable and adjustable enough to fit EVERY size driver.
 

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Thanks for the review Tango.

As we have discussed, my wife is of similar stature to you and has had exactly the same complaints about seat belts for as long as she can remember.

I guess that will mean no more Elements for us.

:-(

Honda, you get a big fat thumbs down from me on this one too
 

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You can thank that one on all the people who complained about having to release their seatbelt to open the rear door.

Gawd forbid they get their lazy @$$ up and open the door for their kid instead of doing the drive-by dumping. :D


Though I doubt most manufacturers take into account people that are 5'1" when designing much of anything.
The supposed average height for a male in the US is 5" 10" and a female is 5' 4" though I think that's conservative; been to a highschool lately?
Many chicks are gettin large.
And I'm not talking fat per se, just taller and husky. Like an out of shape lumberjack.
:p

My wife is a highschool teacher so I go to events all the time as a chaparone
I gotta say, I'm in much better shape than a large percentage of those kids.

Don't teenagers get up anymore?
Or do they just sit there eating cheetos playing video games?
:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
PVR said:
Thanks for the review Tango.

As we have discussed, my wife is of similar stature to you and has had exactly the same complaints about seat belts for as long as she can remember.

I guess that will mean no more Elements for us.

:-(

Honda, you get a big fat thumbs down from me on this one too
I AM going to write to Honda and complain (nicely). Can't expect change if you don't communicate that it's needed. The WORST part of all this is that EVERYONE has suddenly jumped on the "integrated seatbelt" bandwagon. Not sure why - maybe cost or they feel it is safer? Monkey see, Monkey do? Whatever the reason it's a BAD IDEA and may bite them in the butt when thy find anyone under 5'6" gets injured worse BY THE SEATBELT. When they don't fit, they don't protect people like they are supposed to. Just another example of testing everything on average size men or crash dummies who can't say the belt is uncomfortable or illustrate how it doesn't fit on REAL people who move. Honda solved ONE complaint (the passenger-seatbelt issue) and in the process, created a NEW, and IMHO, worse one.

Surely there is a way to safely design an integrated belt to make the height adjustable. All they need do is create a system ON THE SEAT that is similar to the design on the door and moves up and (mostly) down. Problem solved!
 

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See if you can get a seat belt extension for oversized people. Many dealers will give them out for free. This will move the connection point to your left and move the belt off of your neack and back over to your sholder.

I'm not particularly short but my old Dodge Caravan did the same thing to me and this solved it.
 
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