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Interesting about the VW Rabbit. Diesel engines may not have allot of HP but do have lots of low-end torque. A real big gap between 3 and 4? So, it had 3 forward gears plus a tall 4th? If so and you liked that, then there is a solution for the E using the 5th gear from an Accord and a donor MTX from a Accord is cheap. It's on this forum. But beware, the E has a short 4th gear and the Accord 5th is real tall so you'll have to wind out your engine revs to get to it. Keep us up to date with your plans - we would love to hear from you.
I didn't like the Rabbit gearing, but it suited the HP of the car and the diesel engine. I wouldn't want to drive a gas car with that same set up. I had a few Accords from the Element era and thought they were better RPM wise at highway speeds.

I drove Subarus and VW's for a long time and for many years they were plagued with the same issue as the Element....5th gear on the 4 cylinder was wailing at highway speeds. It seems like they matched 5th to the torque band of the engines so you wouldn't have to downshift to pass on the highway or something like that. Does the CR-V have the same 5th gear as the Element?

My wife's 2017 Forester has a 6MT and it's a little better but not much. They keep getting heavier and the flat 2.5 has been around forever, so it's seriously underpowered to the point of being dangerous with the AC on. Plus, they must have dorked with the body to subframe bushings to make it "ride better" so it handles like a pregnant yak, and now you can only get a freaking CVT on them so Subarus are off of my list.

BOT for a minute, I will probably wait on deciding on the swap because I need to drive the Element this winter to keep the TDI out of the salt/keep the miles down. The TDI is a dieselgate car from California with an extended warranty and kind of a unicorn feature wise so I'd like to hang onto it for a while.
 

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I didn't like the Rabbit gearing, but it suited the HP of the car and the diesel engine. I wouldn't want to drive a gas car with that same set up. I had a few Accords from the Element era and thought they were better RPM wise at highway speeds.

I drove Subarus and VW's for a long time and for many years they were plagued with the same issue as the Element....5th gear on the 4 cylinder was wailing at highway speeds. It seems like they matched 5th to the torque band of the engines so you wouldn't have to downshift to pass on the highway or something like that. Does the CR-V have the same 5th gear as the Element?

My wife's 2017 Forester has a 6MT and it's a little better but not much. They keep getting heavier and the flat 2.5 has been around forever, so it's seriously underpowered to the point of being dangerous with the AC on. Plus, they must have dorked with the body to subframe bushings to make it "ride better" so it handles like a pregnant yak, and now you can only get a freaking CVT on them so Subarus are off of my list.

BOT for a minute, I will probably wait on deciding on the swap because I need to drive the Element this winter to keep the TDI out of the salt/keep the miles down. The TDI is a dieselgate car from California with an extended warranty and kind of a unicorn feature wise so I'd like to hang onto it for a while.
I don't like the boxer engines in Subarus so they're off my list too for that reason, let alone the CVT atrocities. Here's a link to a CR-V vs Element MTX comparison on this website. It includes the K-series MTX data table.
 

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I don't like the boxer engines in Subarus so they're off my list too for that reason, let alone the CVT atrocities. Here's a link to a CR-V vs Element MTX comparison on this website. It includes the K-series MTX data table.
Thanks for the link. Looks like a CR-V should be close to an Element RPM wise.

I've had the older 98-03 2.5's with 250k + miles that did just fine if you fed them head gaskets and timing belts every so often. There was a stretch in there where Suibaru changed something internally in the 09 to 15 range (and went to 0w20 oil) where they consumed oil like crazy.

I had a nice base model 2012 Legacy 6MT with maybe 40k that didn't use oil but inhaled some coolant one day so I parked it and had it towed to the dealer. Dealer took 10 days to get to it so I had to buy another car to get to work. They couldn't find anything wrong with it but from that day on, it inhaled oil like crazy (I carried a gallon jug with me) so it got traded in on the TDI. We already had the 2017 Forester, which doesn't use oil yet at 75k, but that Legacy was the end of my Subaru days.

I'm thinking about a new CR-V but having trouble getting past the CVT, I've heard from more than one mechanic source that they are disposable and like to fail right around the time it's not cost effective to replace them. Not sure what we are going to do next.
 

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So to kind of close the case on this one, I've taken the Element on a few more highway drives and the engine noise in 5th gear at 60+ mph is something I can't handle. I honestly don't know what Honda was thinking with this gearing but VW and Subaru have done the same thing in other 5MT transmissions from this era so it's not just Honda.

I do really like the Element, and this particular car is about as nice as I'll be able to find and the color I want so if I get called back to work soon (let's say by the end of January) I'm going to get another transmission and the 6 speed parts and do the swap. I'll do the clutch etc as well. If I do all that, I might as well lower it too, I miss the handling on my lowered E, it's way more fun to drive..

If I don't get called back to work, I'm selling the Element and getting something else. Seems like the logical way to go about this.
 

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So to kind of close the case on this one, I've taken the Element on a few more highway drives and the engine noise in 5th gear at 60+ mph is something I can't handle. I honestly don't know what Honda was thinking with this gearing but VW and Subaru have done the same thing in other 5MT transmissions from this era so it's not just Honda.

I do really like the Element, and this particular car is about as nice as I'll be able to find and the color I want so if I get called back to work soon (let's say by the end of January) I'm going to get another transmission and the 6 speed parts and do the swap. I'll do the clutch etc as well. If I do all that, I might as well lower it too, I miss the handling on my lowered E, it's way more fun to drive..

If I don't get called back to work, I'm selling the Element and getting something else. Seems like the logical way to go about this.
Sounds like a real plan especially if you intend to keep your E indefinitely. It's worth the cost for your enjoyment even if you won't get it back on fuel savings (it's minimal unless you drive 50k mIles a year mostly on the highway). Might as well include the solenoid lockout so you don't buzz reverse going into 6th! Thanks for sharing.
 

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Sounds like a real plan especially if you intend to keep your E indefinitely. It's worth the cost for your enjoyment even if you won't get it back on fuel savings (it's minimal unless you drive 50k mIles a year mostly on the highway). Might as well include the solenoid lockout so you don't buzz reverse going into 6th! Thanks for sharing.
Yeah, it's not a ROI decision based on fuel costs, it's more just deciding if the cost of doing this work so I can live with the car on a day to day basis is worth it versus just getting something else that doesn't drive me nuts in this one, but important area.

The cost of this will put me way over what the E is worth to someone else most likely but this is a really nice little car, well cared for, otherwise it wouldn't be an option.

Problem is, there isn't a lot out there that is as practical as an Element, but even the Element has limits on what it can hold. If I were to replace it, I would get an older 4x4 Suburban so I could haul 4 x 8 sheets in it as needed in the winter (truck doesn't leave the barn in salt season). That's something the Element can't do.

Unfortunately, Suburbans are priced like they are made of unobtainium with titanium accents and have rust issues to go with the high miles around here. My brother lives in Orlando and my son lives in Seattle, if I'm going to pay top dollar for something, it's not going to be a rust bucket, so I'll be buying something one of those places and driving it home.

Lots to consider but it all hinges around work. I left/retired in February to manage care of an in-law in advanced memory care and hospice has now taken over so I can return to work. Previous employer is trying to figure out if/where they can use me so that has to play out.
 

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Good insight. It appears that you live in the "rust belt"? I'm in southern Ontario and my E has lived it's whole life here so it's got some rusty areas to continuously maintain. If I don't lose it in a wreck, ongoing corrosion will eventually take it out in 3 years or so - not long enough to justify spending $800 or so on a transmission upgrade. And I work from home (thanks, Covid) so put well under 3000 miles on it anually, mostly city driving. Something that may be applicable to you too.
 

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Rust is the whole reason I went to Tennessee to buy this one and drive it back to Ohio. My Dodge truck is from the same area of Tennessee and my VW is from California, I've learned the hard way to avoid Ohio cars. Rust free cars bring a premium around here, so it's kind of an investment. Plus, bolts loosen instead of snap off.

My first Element was an Ohio car, surprisingly the undercarriage and subframes were in really good condition but the body was starting to develop some rust on the doors and leading edge of the roof.
 

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Rust is the whole reason I went to Tennessee to buy this one and drive it back to Ohio. My Dodge truck is from the same area of Tennessee and my VW is from California, I've learned the hard way to avoid Ohio cars. Rust free cars bring a premium around here, so it's kind of an investment. Plus, bolts loosen instead of snap off.

My first Element was an Ohio car, surprisingly the undercarriage and subframes were in really good condition but the body was starting to develop some rust on the doors and leading edge of the roof.
For now, I have an '01 PT Cruiser 5-speed which is my "winter beater". Oil sprayed annually by a shop is the only reason it still looks good today. Will drive it until something major breaks then sell it as a fixer-upper or for scrap. In the meantime the Element will get oil sprayed by myself annually to extend it's life as long as possible.
 

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For now, I have an '01 PT Cruiser 5-speed which is my "winter beater". Oil sprayed annually by a shop is the only reason it still looks good today. Will drive it until something major breaks then sell it as a fixer-upper or for scrap. In the meantime the Element will get oil sprayed by myself annually to extend it's life as long as possible.
Oil spraying for rustproofing around here is unheard of, not sure if it is because of a law or I'm just not aware of it.

And yes, I am in the rust belt. About 20 miles north of Dayton Ohio.
 
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