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The reason the Element is attracting an older-than-expected demographic is the same as the reason why an Acura-ized Element is ludicrous. The reason is _utility_, plain and simple.

The situation is well-illustrated by comparison with the VW Microbus (both past and prospective).

VW introduced their revivified Microbus concept at about the same time as Honda previewed the Element on the auto show circuit. As a VW bus veteran, I instantly saw the VW concept had the nostalgic lines but the Honda thingie had the 'concept'. Along with others, I badgered VW to the effect the Microbus wouldn't get off the ground as an upscale-only, highly-tricked-out offering. It seems they haven't (yet) listened to that message and they're still aiming for a glitz-ridden suburban sled. So it comes as no surprise that the new head of VW's Microbus project has admitted they may have to rethink going ahead now that it appears they can't deliver for less than $30,000.

The Element is the closest equivalent to the old VW Microbus / Transporter concept -- basic, economical, roomy, reconfigurable, and generally amenable to most anything you'd want to do on wheels. THIS is why we middle-agers are flocking to it. It's essentially a no-nonsense (OK - low-nonsense) affordable set of wheels that offers practicality. There's nothing SUV-like that offers this level of nuts'n'bolts practicality, just as there were never any minivans configured for such basic functionality.

Bottom Line: The Element is selling because it's _basic_. Attempts to move the vehicle up-market (even with the cachet of an Acura tag) will fail just like VW's glitzed-up Vanagons failed in the 1980's.
 
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