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Hi! I'm a recent high school grad and I'll be heading off to college this fall. My parents have finally decided to replace my old 1990 Nissan with a new car next week but I'm not quite sure what to buy. I like the Element because it's so cool, you don't see one every time you turn the corner, plus it has awesome interior space. I like the Civic because it's way cheaper, plus it has standard keyless entry and a power moonroof. Does anybody know which car would be best for running around town and the long road trips to college? Has anyone had experience with both cars? Right now I think I like the Element more than the Civic, but I have concerns about some problems. I've heard some people complain about loud rattles when driving the Element, plus the review on Edmunds.com said that the Element's body panels were discolored because of spilled fuel when refilling the gas tank. Has anyone experienced these problems as well?
 

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I have owned both cars. I traded in a 2001 Civic. While the Civic is great on gas mileage and pretty fun to drive there isn't a lot of room. How much stuff will you be hauling back and forth ever summer from school? I had a truck in college and it was great. If you own an Element I guarantee friends will want to ride in that more than someone with a compact car. You really can't go wrong with either car. They are entirely different however and you really need to assess what you needs are. Both will be reliable. You will spend less money on gas with the Civic but have lots more room to haul stuff in the Element.
 

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I had a 97 Civic EX coupe that i traded for my E. I absolutely loved that little car. It reasonable pick-up (with 5 spd gearbox), fantastic fuel economy (usually 35 mpg) and handled very well (i added neuspeed suspension bits and low profile rubber). The only thing it didn't do real well was haul big stuff and 2 extra people. That's why i bought the E. While awaiting delivery of my E, the dealer gave me a new 2003 Civic EX coupe to drive. I hated that car! While having a more refined interior, everything else on it was worse than my 97. The steering felt like it was numb, the suspension was overly stiff and didn't handle no where nearly as good as my 97. Throttle response was awful - all-in-all Honda has blown it on the new Civics. What you intend to do with your new car is entirely up to you, but if you want a very economical and practical hauler/cruiser choose the E over the Civic. Good luck in your purchase. BTW I got over 9000 miles on my E, without a single problem or complaint. I have also spilled gas on the panels with no problems or damage.
 

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I traded a 98 Civic in for my EX AWD Silver E. In addition, when I had the E in for the security system/keyless install I got to borrow the salespersons newer Civic, maybe an 02? So here's my experience: I loved my 98 Civic but it was way too small for my lifestyle. Hauling my bike around, bringing friends along, going camping, and all that. Just too small. But, it handled like a champ and got great gas milage. It NEVER let me down. My Element has also never let me down although I've only had it 3000 miles. I've had none of the reported problems. I get 280 miles average on 12.5 gallons of gas, so that'll cost more than the Civic of course. Plus an Element will get you a lot more attention (good in college) than the Civic would. I'd suggest the Element if you have the money, especially now that all the initial quality problems have been worked out. Oh yeah the 02' Civic that I got to borrow was cheap and didn't drive nearly as well as my 98 Civic.
 

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I just traded in a 2001 Civic EX on a Element EX. I liked my Civic fine, good pickup, sunroof, fun to drive, 30-35 mpg. Just did not like having no room and missed that SUV high seating position. You can't miss with either one. The element will let you haul stuff and peaple much better with a decent ride, also has a bigger engine (2.4 vs 1.8). So far, all I miss on my Element is the power sunroof but the 270 watt stereo in the Element really kicks compared to the wimpy radio in the Civic. Just my 2 cents-hope it helps you.
 

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I only WISH that I could have had an Element in college! It would have been so usefull (and fun!!). The Civic is a great car, I had a '97, but the E is just awesome. It is just so functional and fun to drive. It is perfect for college, you can haul everything, (and you will need to), and get there in style. You would not regret it at all! BTW, check out this site http://www.handa-accessories.com/elementelect.html, they have the Keyless Entry for $107, and you can install it yourselt in ten minutes! Good luck. (I drove a Beretta in college, you are so lucky!!) 8)
 

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My previous ride was a 93 civic 4-door manual DX with 188,000 miles and no problems other than A/C glitches. I loved it, but it was time for something new. My deciding factors were:

1. Bigger - I have husband and 3 large dogs
2. Higher - I want to be able to go over a curb if necessary to escape flood waters - yep, my civic got flooded 5 years ago.
3. Higher - second reason - I live in the land of pickups and suvs and wanted to be able to see traffic ahead, plus I didn't want to slide under a bumber someday.

As far as the loud rattles, I've had none. On the posts about them, you usually see just people who have the problems posting, not the ones who don't - and I'm not belittling those who do have the rattles.

Discoloration of panels from gas can be avoided by shaking off the nossle and wiping off any spills that do occur.
 

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2003 2WD MT GG, 55K as of 3/20(!), It’s a Fun Box
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I had a 1980 Accord in college (the current Civic is bigger than that Accord) and it was great. If you'll be tooling around town and making occaisional road trips home it may be perfectly suited to your needs. Find out what your insurance will run for both the Civic and the Element--it may help make the decision.

As for the Element, I love mine. It's great. And I can afford it. I couldn't have afforded it in college. Remember that the more you spend on your ride, the less you'll have to spend while hanging out with your friends. You can tote bikes on the outside of a Civic with a not-too-expensive bike rack(not as easy as putting them inside the E, but it works).
 
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