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Wow, lets see if I can get all of these answered:

Safety first, the lack of B-pillar is not an issue since the pillar is still there, just hidden in the rear door. The Element should match or beat the side impact ratings of other small SUVs in it's class.
Side airbags do seem to have been skipped this year, but since they were armrest and not curtain, their overall effectivness in a crash is suspect anyway. The Element has multiple tie down clips. I believe two behind the rear bench and two more in front (owners correct me if I'm wrong). They are metal rings that are hinged to the sides of the cargo area. There are also interior bike fork mounts (optional). With the rear seats up or down you should be safe from the threat of sliding cargo. The back seat has room for two, divided by a set of cup holders, and the recline control lever/straps. Both rear passengers have three point belts.

Mileage; Forgive my antiquated empirial measurement system, but the Element gets around 21-22 miles per gallon on average judging from the posts here. I'm no good at conversion so that part is up to you. :)

Comfort seems to be a matter of opinion. I prefer a nice, firm, but forgiving seat. I currently drive a Wrangler, but have driven a couple Elements, and the seats are similar. I would say, that if you are like me, a five hour drive would be nothing in the Element. The seats are soft but supportive. If you are a soft cushy seat person though, they may seem stiff, especially the rear bench. Heated seats!!?? Sorry...... but they are waterproof. Automatic climate control is only available if you have a passenger who takes orders well, otherwise you are out of luck. The Element is not a luxury suv, it is a bare bones utilitarian transport with style.

Interior; The sunroof is only available over the cargo area, but I'm sure an aftermarket glass shop would be happy to install one wherever you want. The rear seats, when folded up, do block the side windows. Although I did not find this a problem on my test drive, you might, but the side mirrors are large and powered. The rear seats are removable, but apparently not to easily, so you'd probably only want to do it every once in a while, or leave them out.

Drivetrain; According to the testdrives I've read, you will be giving up 2 seconds 0-60, but gaining 1 MPG fuel efficiency by choosing the Auto over the 5-speed. SInce it seems the 5-speed will not be available in the EX AWD you may want to weigh comfort v. performance and decide which is more important to you. Honda has decided you cannot have both. No matter what decision, the Element is not a performance vehicle, so if you are expecting it to be, you may want to look elsewhere. It puts out 161 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm and 160 hp at 5500 rpm, so depending on the shift points you should have plenty of getup-and-go. On my test drive of an auto EX, I had plenty of power at hand for pulling out into traffic, and passing. I would guess it is on par with the CRV although the Element is about 200lbs heavier.

Demographic; I am 29 as well, and I do not believe the Element is limited by age, but by lifestyle. The people on this site are between 20 and 70, but all were looking for a car that has more utility than what is out there. The Element owner is the person who is willing to give up luxury for utility, carpet for rubber, leather for neoprene. We have muddy dogs, sloppy children, and unruly friends. We don't want a car that stains, rips, or wears. And above all we want flexability beyond a rear seat that folds down. So, will you like the Element next year? I don't know, but if you like it for the right reasons now, the chances of liking it next year, and forever, are great.

I hope this helps.
 
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