You only notice the first couple scratches. Haul some dogs, camping gear, a motor scooter, lawnmower, snowblower, angle iron, gas grill, lumber, fire wood, kids and use it to move a few times and you won't care any more.
I don't look at the interior as cheap either. Yes, the plastic does tend to scratch fairly easily, and it shows the scratches as well, but it's also pretty darn rugged. It might look beat up, but it's soft enough not to crack when you hit it with something heavy, and it still cleans up pretty well. I don't mind the scratches from hauling stuff...it's just character. It means I'm using the vehicle. And believe, me, this is coming from a guy who has worked hard for four years to avoid having swirl marks in his paint! I'm pretty anal, but interior scratches are okay.
If you don't want to scratch your Element, you can do one of two things:
Don't use it, OR...
Use it but be a bit more careful
Plastic is pretty resiliant to light scratching provided the item that comes into contact with it does not do so with force and/or speed. On the whole, I simply learned to live with the fact that if I want to use my Element for something other than getting in and out of it, scratches are inevitable and you either come up with ways to ward off the potential to get them or you come up with ways to lessen the visual impact of the ones you did get .
One of the said ways I found to lessen the appearance of interior scratches is to take a terry cloth waxing pad and spray a clear shine protectant (the detailers at work here have Magic Glo from the distributor but Meguiar's Hot Tire Shine is similar and works just as well) onto the pad and wipe the plastic down with it to give it a nice satiny finish. This gives it that showroom look, reduces the look of the scratches and gets rid of that "dry" look that plastic gets over time which makes scratches exponentially more visible. One area I found the most susceptible to the scratchy "dry look" is the door sill area. No matter how much shine I apply to it, it always seems to soak it up and be less shiny than the rest of the Element .
Hey! Another mod! Full body armor for the interior of the E. Sort of like the way your grandmother covered the couch with a clear vinyl cover, laid runners over the rug, and you weren't allowed in the living room anyway.