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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! First Post.

I was reading a review in Forbes magazine on new cars for 2003. I was seriously looking at a Subaru Baja/WRX/Outback type car for when I move Alaska next spring. The baja got a pretty crappy review and the next link down was for this freaky little Honda called the "Element"

That is where it started. I have searched high and low for a review extolling the CONS of this vehicle. No one seems to have a bad thing to say about it! Sure, there are the few bad gas mileage, maybe some wind noise gripes. They are hidden in the middle of the 150 PROs listed on every review. :)

Anywho, I am really wanting one now! Well, that is gonna be hard. I am on the Air Force stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea. As the clock sweeps past midnight, I will have 10 months, 29 days left here. Not that I am counting.

I am going to attempt a trip to Honalulu later this year for a nice relaxing vacation far (it is a far as I want to fly anyway) away from the threats up North. I will test drive my little heart out.

I have swayed from getting a fully loaded EX AWD with every Honda accessory installed to just getting the base.

My needs:

I am single, 28 years old (OMG, I am in the demographic range), and I bike....alot...

So, I need a place to put the bike. (check) get the interior bike mount or make one)

Automatic tranny for remote start (I am heading to Alaska after this, so I want it nice and toasty when I get in) Yes, I know you gat rig a manual with remote start. The choice is moot. Auto is fine for me. The "E" is not a sports car. I drive a Dodge Neon Coupe now...I know the futility of dumping large amounts of cash to make these things go fast. Auto will do.

I want something I am going to enjoy while I drive. I dont look at this as basic transportation. So, I have decided on the EX model with all its goodies

Alsaka = snow = AWD

Fog light install = PITA = dealer install

The Sunset Orange intrigies me. I need to see it in person. That or black. Maybe green

What is the deal with all the exterior addons? The rear dealy and the front dealy? Is it worth it. What about the interior color accents?

I am getting an aftermarket remote start alarm, no dealer gouging there.

oooh. Audio choices. There are a lot on the Honda website. Will an aftermarket deck fit the the same spot with little or no adapters? I will have to cruise the Audio forum in a bit.

Now for the fun part. How do I buy? Three choices from easy to hard.

Easy = Buy in Anchorage

Hard = Buy in Miami, visit the family in Florida (who I havent seen in years) and have a nice vacation driving across North American Continent...something I have always wanted to do. See the Grand Canyon, see friends along the way. ( I am steering towards this idea)

Hardest = Miami won't deal, so I buy anywhere else in the country , drive to Florida if able, then to AK...yikes, this one is way down on the list.

Now the hard part. I don't want to settle for dealer stock. What if they dont have a SOP. EX. AWD, wtih fogs, side steps, automatic with no other accessories? ACK! So that means I have to order. OK, no problem. Problem..I am in Korea. Even with todays communication advances, I feel I am going to have issues coordination this purchase. Sticker Price is OK with me. I do have my Neon to trade. asking KBB Good value (only has 49K miles, been professionaly stored for 4 years of its 7 year existence...fanstastic shape, no major or minor problems) ~$2K

So...this was a long one.

Does anyone just plain hate this vehicle?
Anyone actually order an "E" without stepping foot at the dealership except to pick up the car?
Anyone want to venture on which buying choice I will take..easy, hard, or harder?

:)

-JoeDOHC
 

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I just have one thing to say to you.....buy in the lower 48 and drive to AK.....not only will you save $$$ (things are a bit expensive in AK....I liked in Anchorage for almost 4 years!).....plus as an added bonus you will have the BEST raod trip of your life going up the AlCan (Alaska Canadian Highway).....that was the absolute best road trip of my 27 year old life....the company I had was interesting....but the road was amazing....the sites....and wow 2am driving in the middle of nowhere Canada and poof the Northern Lights were dancing for all to see.

Plus the wildlife is so visable.....saw a Bear and a Moose the same day just walking along side the road....too cool! Plus you will find the most unique little road side stops for Hotels and Gas Sations/Resturants.....this one Hotel I think it was called the "Green Turtle" or something has this big sign in the lobby that says "If the desk is closed pick a room with the door open and pay in the morning" It just blew us away!

Too bad I did this trip back in '93.....10 years before the Element! But I can only imagine how much cooler the ride would be in the E.

Good Luck with your Shopping, Welcome to the club, and if you have any other questions just ask!!!

Be safe and make it back to the good ole' USA in 10 months!
 

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2003 2WD MT GG, 55K as of 3/20(!), It’s a Fun Box
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Just so you know: none of the accessories are installed at the factory. If you want a loaded E, you can get the fogs, trim,mats etc. at the dealer or buy online and install yourself. There's no difference between an E requested from the factory and an E on the lot (except the dealer may have already loaded it with overpriced stuff).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am swaying toward driving across country :)

I just want to avoid getting to the dealer and they not having what I ordered. I will only have 3 weeks to get the E and drive to Alaska from Miami. My nightmare is getting to Miami, my E has been ordered and on the lot, but it now has 15 Honda installed accessories totalling an extra $1500 bucks. Oh, BTW, no more SOP EXs coming down for 3 weeks. I am screwed driving my Neon across country *shiver* or settling for a lot model that is not to my specs. Picture the scene from National Lampoon's Family Vacation. The Powder Blue Super Sports Wagon is now the Pea Green Family Truckster.

I need to find a dealer that is willing to "custom" build my E for me and have it ready on a set day. (If it sits for a month at the dealer that is OK, as long as it is set aside for me me me.) :)

Looking over the HandA site, it looks like I would only have them install the fogs, and maybe the front and rear trim, and the rear deflector. Everything else looks like cake. Drilling into body panels is not my idea of fun.
 

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Joe-

If I were you I would start emailing dealers in the Miami area.....I am sure you will find at least one Internet Manager willing to work with you, and since you know what time frame you are looking to pick up your E this should be easy, esp since you know exactly what you want. I know there are people on this board that have dealt with deakers via email and have had great results.....plus knowing that you are in the armed forces and serving our country I just might think that they would help you out with this whole quandry!

Just my 2 cents!
 

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Joe -

First let me say how proud I am of you serving your country in Korea. You deserve all the praise anyone can give you. I hope the rest of your duty there goes without incident.

For the past 3 months or so, I have examined the Element in every way possible. I have searched everything available on Internet. Read all the reviews. Talked to owners. Test driven 4 different ones. I have crawled in, under and over them. I can find no major problems. Sure, some people have a problem here and there but people who buy luxury cars also have a problem here and there. You will notice that no one complains of reliability. ITS A HONDA. You will not believe how good they drive and how well they handle. I was shocked.

I wanted the side airbags so I waited until I could order one so equipped. I did all my negotiating over the Web. I have yet to talk a deal with a salesman face to face. I have not even met the salesman who made the deal with me. I sent out 5 requests for quotes and did my dealing from there. I received 4 responses. I finally ordered the Element and it is due to arrive in mid-June. I did set foot on various dealer lots but only to request a test drive. I never let them entice me into talking a deal. This will be the second car I have bought this way. It works much better than face to face. You can do it totally without emotion and it is much more difficult for them to play games such as running back to the sales manager and trying various tactics. They either meet your price or they don't . It has worked well for me. I think I got a great price. Roughly $1200 off MSRP. I'm sure others have done better but that satisfied me.

Good luck with your pursuit of this fantastic vehicle. Can't wait to get mine.
 

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Dear Joe from Osan:

You don't know how good you have it:

a. You're in the Air Force. You're at Osan instead of Tongducheon, the DMZ, Camp Thundercloud, Camp Casey, or any other hole north of Seoul.

b. Your E will be a 2004. All of the 2003 kinks should be worked out, with the additional comfort that there shouldn't be any "extra" shortages (like the keyless entry drought of last month).

c. You can probably order an E from the factory, and have it waiting for you at the "home" of your choice (I seem to remember Oregon having no state sales tax on vehicles); I picked up my new 1984 Ford Bronco at Crater Lake Motors in Medford. Schweet! The $ you save can probably pay for all those addons. I drove to Fort Hood, TX (very nice - drive, not FH).

d. Take those 30 days (if you can accumulate 60, do it because you're overseas) leave and drive the whole way from FL to AK, Eh?

e. I bought my car from the BX (some guy in a trailer; I got exactly what I wanted). You might even be able to pick up the new color or some other exciting enhancement. This takes all dealer anxiety out of the equation, even though I only saw my salesperson once (pick up the car and do the paperwork). You might even want to finance it now (low rates)and start paying while you're not doing anything except bicycling (there's a good bike route around the perimeter of the airfield at CP Humphreys you can probably get to).

f. Finally, don't waste your time at the dealers in HI; get in touch with the Hawaii E-Owners Club and get some extended QUALITY time with these vehicles. If you were coming through GA, I'd let you drive it around mine for the day; Hawaii must have absolutely nothing to see while driving (smile)...

Good Luck and Thanks for Serving

Capn Mack, USA
CP Casey 1983-84, 1988-89
CP Humphreys, 1989-90
 

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I live in Anchorage, AK and have tried to buy an Element. The lowest price I was able to get was MSRP+ paperwork fees, overpriced extras, etc. You say sticker would be fine for you so maybe this will work. Also, since your buying the EX with all the bell's and whistle's they will probably work you a better deal.
I would highly recomment buying elsewhere though. The people at the dealer up here were really not very eager to sell this car for some reason. I called a dealership in Seattle that offered a much better deal, so I know they are out there.

Good luck.
 

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There's no sales tax in NH either, but if you buy a vehicle in NH & register it in Maine (Mass. too I think), the state will make you pay the state tax rate (5% for Maine) before you can register the vehicle. Then they charge excise tax on top of that! Buying from a state that doesn't charge sales tax doesn't help if the state you register it in will charge you anyways.
 

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My advice?

Either buy it in AK or buy it on EBAY and drive out to pick it up!

Currently there are 4 Elements in various colors being sold.
 

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JoeDOHC

What do you do for the Air Force? I am a Comm guy in the California Air National Guard. I haven't been to Korea yet, just the sandbox and South America.

Just purchased a GG AWD EX and loving every minute! Purchase your in FL. and drive acroos the country. You have plenty of time to coordinate your purchase! :) Good luck!

Proud to serve!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I work Tech Control. Long Haul comms.

I have spent about 2 years in SW Asia doing various fun things. 6 months in Turkey, 6 months in Saudi, 6 months in Kuwait and some time in Afghanistan.

It is nice to be in a combat zone (Korea) without sand.

I spent my first 6 years in AWACS as an airborne repairman (RADAR) and just (2 years ago) retrained to comm.

Planning the trip now with stops at the Grand Canyon, Key West and Vegas. :)

I think it will be nice to actaully see country I am fighting for :p
 

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JoeDOHC

Tech Control! Your "God"! :D

Yeah, seeing the country that you are defending will be great! I was thinking about going to the Grand Canyon this summer. Not for sure yet but if I do sure will nice to be able to pack everything inside my E. Stay safe!

Proud to serve!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
[quote:cdf5e698f0="1manparty"]JoeDOHC

Tech Control! Your "God"! :D [/quote:cdf5e698f0]

They do call us "Waterwalkers" :)
 

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If you really want to see what you're fighting for, make sure you stop by corporate headquarters for Exxon/Mobil, Conoco, Betel, Haliburton, etc.
 

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I'm in VA. The dealers here have not been adding anything to the E's on the lot. The exceptions are the dealer demos that Honda will not let them sell. Even if you get the internal bike rack. I would get rook racks (either factory or after market) with bike attachments. Afterall, when driving to AK you'll need room inside for all your other stuff.

Also, go to the "interior" board. Someone was talking about a cooler/console unit that plugs into the power outlet but fits nicely between the fron seats. If your going to be on the road that long it might be nice to have cool drinks and snacks at your fingertip without having to stop or pay retail at the 7-11. These things don't get your drinks super cold, but it is better than room tempature.

Also, condsider buying an air mattress - with a pump you can plug into the power outlet. While the seats fold into a bed, it is not "flat" and might be unsleepable for some. A not quite full air mattress might flatten out the bed for you. If you are traveling cross country and want to save hotel costs this is the way to go. Also, if you do sleep in your E, many Wal-Marts around the country allow RV's to park for the night in their lots. You can snuggle up next to those guys - safety in numbers type thing. Some people might also let you shower up in their RV's. Especially if you treat them to breakfast or something. Or you can always pool hop at some hotels to get the grit off you.

I could go on and on with travel tips. But I have to go now. Enjoy the E, and thanks for serving. My dad was a ball turret gunner in a B-17 during WWII, I always have a soft spot for airmen.
 

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Joe, I seriously doubt you will have trouble finding what you want. Around here, I have seen plenty of SOP awd auto EX models.

I predict you will go with door #2 -- the Florida deal, see the country visit. (Just tell them you're paying tax elsewhere.) I highly recommend it. I toured 5,000 miles last summer in my '76 Buick Estate wagon (sans air, mind you) for my book. This is a beautiful land we have. And I didn't even see the traditionally amazing things like Grand Canyon. But driving through billowy cloud wisps under an azure sky in the Midwest is something I *never* thought possible. Yet there I was, on the plains at dawn, thanking God.

Diane -- your AlCan highway description left me wanting more. And I'm a writer. What an amazing, breathtaking trip that must have been. Wow. I want to do that! If I didn't have my kit-kats, I'd be all over it. (They start destroying things in less than a week when I'm gone, but I love them!)

Good luck, Joe, Godspeed, and peace to you and all you encounter.

Steve
 

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SteveO-

I am a bit of a writer myself (nothing like you Mr. Published Author), but I wrote some of my very best poems and short stories on that trip and the 3 years that followed living in the most beautiful state in the union (I know I am going to take heat for that one, but since I have been to 49 of the 50 states I feel that I can make this statment!)

It is amazing what an eye opener a change in scenery can be! Alaska is absolutley amazing....and the sights on the road through Canada...wow there is this part of the Alcan in Canada that you drive up a mountain for about 6 miles, and the you come down the other side to discover the most beautiful valley filled with the most breath-taking deep blue lake surrounded by lush geen as far as you can see!

I would love to make this trip again, but I fear that I have become too much of a "normal" adult....UGH!!
 
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