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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm not trying to offend anyone here, but I hate the Element. Yuck! Seriously I hate them! Before you flame me let me explain the situation (sorry for the novel):

My Fiancée and I live in Colorado. We are looking for a replacement for a 2dr Honda Civic. We both race mountain bikes, I hang glide competitively, and we have 4 medium-large sized dogs. We travel regularly on road trips throughout the Rockies, Utah, Moab, and the West for races, hang gliding comps, and adventure. We are on the road at least twice a month, usually more in the summer. Our current vehicles are a 1st Gen Toyota Tacoma with a Convertible Canvas Topper, a BMW (Z3) M Coupe, and a 2000 Honda Civic.

The Tacoma is our main lifestyle vehicle. I actually lived in it a couple summers ago and was perfectly comfortable. I need to do some aggressive four wheeling to get to most of the hang gliding sites out here (they say the most dangerous part is the drive up to launch!) and the Tacoma does this without problems. We can sleep in the back, but it's tight with the narrow wheel wells. With the rack system I built it hauls all of our gear no prob. It's also the primary dog vehicle (they ride in the bed with canvas sides rolled up and military spec netting to keep them in). It's got 215,000 miles and is still going strong, but showing signs of its mileage. I need to make it last 3 more years at least.

The BMW M Coupe is the garage queen. I track it a few times a year and the occasional speed fix in the mountains. It has a bike rack and is super fun to drive to races, but is obviously limited in what it can haul. The only reason I mention the M Coupe is that I have a taste for the driving experience, it's part of the reason I hate the Element. I'll expand more later.

The Honda Civic is what the Element would be replacing. It is the commuter car, but it does most of its duty serving my Fiancée. She needs to haul the dogs occasionally and the back seat is disgusting from years of dog hair, dirt, spittle, funk, etc. Considering this we don't own a vehicle with a real back seat, which is really annoying when friend and family come to stay.

Instead of an Element, I want to replace the Civic with a BMW 3 Series AWD wagon, the 325ixT (this why I mentioned the M Coupe). Outbacks, Foresters, Rav 4's, FJ's, Volvos would all do the same job, but I have no interest in any of those. If cost and reliability were no issue I'd get a Syncro Westy, but they are so the Element and the 325ixT are what I've narrowed the search to. This is all moot as my Fiancée will have the ultimate say, as it will be her vehicle, but I digress. We have about $10-12K to spend and from what I've searched the AWD Element and 325ixT are pretty even in this price point yielding vehicles with between 60,000 to 100,000 miles, the BMW being a few years earlier. I do all the work on our vehicles and am comfortable doing complex jobs on both BMW's and Honda's. So far our Honda has been the easiest to work on, with the most well thought out dealer service manual.

One last thing. My friend has an 03 AWD Ex Element. I've done multiple road trips to races and adventures in his Element and driven it on many occasions. I actually dig the funky, boxy exterior and cool interior styling of the Element. It's the driving experience I can't stand. Driving his Element is boring, sterile, and numb. I don't even like riding in it. It's 10 hours round trip to Moab from Boulder and we go a half dozen times a year. With all that time behind the wheel, the driving experience matters to me. Even compared to the Tacoma the Element sucks. The Tacoma walks away from it up the passes, out handles it even with hang gliders on top, can out four-wheel it, hauls more gear, and only gets about 5mpg less. Compared to the 325ixT the Element is well all I can say is - Yuck! We borrow a friend's Vanagan Westfalia camper regularly and even though it is gutless and boxy, the driving experience is still enjoyable. I enjoyed it as much as I do the BMW. I dig the VW Bus feel, it takes a little talent to negotiate windy mountain passes in, and the poptop and camper are worth topping out at 35mph at times.

Okay I'll stop hating now. Enter the dogs! They completely change the equation. The 325ixT is really just a sedan with a hatch. It is tiny compared to other wagons. I doubt I could fit one, much less two dogs in the back comfortably, meaning the seats would have to be folded down. This isn't a problem because BMW makes an integrated retractable screen that connects behind the front 2 seats. I could also cover the hatch and back of the rear seats with waterproof carpet cheaply, but the Element with its retractable rear seats, tailgate, and washable rubber floors wins hands down.

The next issue is payload. Besides the driving experience I'm concerned about the limited payload and space in the Element with the backseats down. We would have to get a rocket box and hitch rack to haul 3, much less 4 people, and gear. I've spent a few hours crammed between gear bags on the floor of my friend's Element because there wasn't enough room with the back seats down. I'm sure going over the passes with 4 people in a loaded down Element will only sour me more on the driving experience.

To wrap things up. The 325ixT can do everything the Element can do, but better, except haul the dogs. It has more HP / torque, gets better Hwy mpg, nicer options, better AWD, 50/50 weight distribution, etc. One of my reservations is that we already have a truck. Is the Element too redundant? The only real advantage to the Element is easy dog hauling and less time fixing it on my days off. Honda's reliability is off the chart compared to the BMW.

I know the responsible, rational, boring thing to do is to get the Element, but I just don't want to. I'm sure I'll learn to love the Element. Everyone I know who has one loves it! I dig the orange one the most as it reminds me of my old VW Bus. If I could find one with the Ursa Minor Pop Top that would really be cool. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Put me over the top, please!
 

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moderator hat off... all the EU cars i have ever know anyone to have over an extended period have turned out to be total turd P.I.T.A's including the 07 GTI in my own driveway that the wife is ready to trade in to get another CRV which is what it replaced (an 05) 2 years ago. if you go with the "ultimate driving machine", good luck with that :roll:
 

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To be honest i have a short attention span and stopped reading after the first paragraph.

As the title of the thread states...You want to be talked into it.

If you need to be talked into a vehicle purchase you are possibly barking up the wrong tree and could end up regretting the purchase.
 

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...none of the posters (that I know of) who have gone from "the euro driving experience" type cars have held onto their Elements. Anyhow, if it's your fiancee's car then you really should let her choose lest you be accused of being a weirdo control freak who gets petty when the decision is not his. Clear?
 

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Your choices are endless when it comes to choosing a car. Why be talked into anything? If you don't see the fabulousness of the Element than you shouldn't take up space in one. Leave it for those of us who understand. 8)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
...none of the posters (that I know of) who have gone from "the euro driving experience" type cars have held onto their Elements. Anyhow, if it's your fiancee's car then you really should let her choose lest you be accused of being a weirdo control freak who gets petty when the decision is not his. Clear?
Agreed. I'm not trying to sound like a the weirdo control freak guy. Although I am a freak - Only a freak would write 8 paragraphs about the virtues and foils of a Honda Element vs. a BMW!

I'm the one agonizing over this because I'm the only one that cares either way. We do share both vehicles, but as long as it's safe I don't think she has very strong opinions either way.
 

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Buy the BMW and enjoy! The cost of ownership is not what most of us boring E owners are into. We just want reliability and rock solid inexpensive transportation for all our activities,
 

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it seems like you have done your research. i would get what fits your needs more and appeals to you and also which one you will be happier with for years to come
 

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Your post is long but the answer is simple - sounds like an Element isn't for you. I'm glad you've narrowed it down to the 325ixT. I'm sure you'll find a way to add the dogs into the mix. Hey if they fit into a Civic, they'll fit in the 325ixT. The boring but reliable thing? I guess it's something an Element owner has to live with. Good luck to you.
 

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Like the others, I wonder why you are posting here at all. :)

The E is not for everyone, you've evaluated your needs and preferences so why should we try and convince you otherwise? We're not going to make you drink the Koolaid.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Here's your real problem Cloudbase, you have too many damn toys!
That is the truth!!

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful insight. I'm not by any means saying anyone is boring, just poking fun at my own irrationalility. I am sure I would learn to love the Element, I'm just not completely sold. Please keep the opinions coming!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Like the others, I wonder why you are posting here at all. :)

The E is not for everyone, you've evaluated your needs and preferences so why should we try and convince you otherwise? We're not going to make you drink the Koolaid.
I'm posting here because you guys are the experts. The Element meets my needs wonderfully, just not my wants. I guess I was just hoping someone would bring up a point / share an experience that I could relate to and steer my wants more in line with my needs.
 

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I'm posting here because you guys are the experts. The Element meets my needs wonderfully, just not my wants. I guess I was just hoping someone would bring up a point / share an experience that I could relate to and steer my wants more in line with my needs.
Alright you dirty Bastard. You made me join so here is my .02.

We had an '03 for a year. Well, actually Sarah had it. It was great for moving/hauling/hosing out. As far as driving hahahahaha! We called it our rubbermaid on wheels. So we sold it and bought the '03 WRX wagon. Soooooooooo much fun:evil: That has since been replaced by an '09 STi which would spank your M coupe, but I digress.

Get an Xterra. Almost as functional, close to the same money for an '05 S model, and WAY more interesting to drive. We have had ours for 4 years and love the heck out of it. Room for your dogs, sleeping, and power to spare. Might replace the old Taco too. Trust me, the first time you take that anemic Element over the pass you will be kicking yourself.
 

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Cloudbase I can see where you're coming from (I'm from Boulder too :) ) You have so much to spend and want to make the best decision. I've only had my E for a bit over a week so I'm no expert yet. I needed a car for commuting mostly around town (some mountain stuff) and something I could run to Home Depot in. So, my parameters were I wanted a Honda with 4WD/AWD that our family of four could fit in for around $15 grand. Pilots and Ridgelines were too much $$ and were tougher on gas. I liked the utility aspect of the Element so I did a quick research here and found a used one. You've ridden in them and know what to expect. No matter what you get there will be trouble spots - but I feel Hondas have less trouble spots then other makes and models. I hear you on the wants/vs needs thing. A loaded Element that costs a few bucks will never have the creature comforts or performance of other cars. What it does offer is utilty that cleans up very easily, decent mileage and reliability. To me the care-free aspect trumps luxury at this stage in my life. Slop around in it, sleep in it, go on some terrain that a Civic can't handle, throw the pooches in it etc. If we want performance and leather or if out of town guests show up, we take the wife's Odyssey. If we get a foot of snow and have to get to work, we will jump in the Element. Make a pro-con list and keep reading our opinions - you'll figure it out. And, don't ask me why the sunroof's in the back - I don't know ;-) I still think you need something larger for your lifestyle and toys but maybe that's just me. The angry guy in the post above is right about climbing passes. You'll get there but not in first place.
 

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The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want a toy or a tool. Tools aren't always a lot of fun, but trying to build a house with a Slinky is pure hell. :)
 

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was your friend's 03 an AT or MT? it makes a difference in pep. If it was an AT, then try an 07 or up with the 5AT. you will still not be the first one up the mountain, but you wont be passed by old men on bikes in the slow lane either.
 

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That was the only thing I was going to point out, the MT VS AT. The MT Element feels much more "peppy" than the AT, but I don't know if your wife would want that.
My wife was not sold on the Element but she had faith in my choice and she actually loves it...and pretty much takes it every chance she gets lol. The Element to me is just a big Honda civic. Highly reliable, easy to work on, not full of luxuries just basic, utility. You can fit your bikes inside, you can fold the seats out and sleep in it comfortably, you can wipe down the floor with all the dog slobber and whatnot. Everything fits your lifestyle except for the driving experience.
You have a BMW so you are familiar with the car but I would imagine most people getting rid of a BMW would be because it has an expensive problem brewing. If you can fix it yourself, it might be a great vehicle for you. You have a lot of valid points and logical reasons why NOT to want an Element but if it's for your wife and she likes it, she'll be getting a reliable, safe, (probably AWD I assume) utili-box to haul your dogs around in. Let us know what you decide, I for one am interested in the outcome. 8)
 
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