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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, all! Glad to make your acquaintance.

I test drove an E yesterday, and am posting here in hopes of getting a little bit of guidance, advice... or at least sympathy.

My interest in an Element comes from yet another frustrating weekend with my current ride, an '01 Ford Escape. I volunteer at a big, multi-day charity cycling event, and the limited hauling capacity of the Escape was infuriating (again!), as was the cleanup afterwards. Aside from the pure haulage ability, it was the interior cleaning aspects that piqued my interest in the Element. It's just setup for what I do.

I mostly liked it during the test drive. The E certainly is roomy and the ride is comparable to the Escape. Handling seemed competent (at least it didn't scare me), but the auto/AWD I drove had all the get-up-and-go of a slug. So the 5-speed decision is a no-brainer.

One particular question I have is about the auto-AWD. I've owned true 4x4's and know how much difference that a fully-engaged 4x4 system makes in poor traction conditions. The Escape has an auto-4x4 mode, which I consider nearly useless relative to turning it on - by the time the "auto" mode engages, you are already in trouble. How responsive is the Element's 4x4 system... really? I would especially appreciate a response from somebody with firsthand experience with true 4x4. (Not that I don't trust the positive buzz I read on the board. Relative to 2WD an auto 4x4 will be astounding... but I'm interested in an evaluation of the Honda system from somebody who really knows the diff.)

In surfing the board, I discover that the Achilles' heel of the E is the windshield, and some problems with rear door window leakage. Have these been solved in current production? Also, the mentions of engine oil leaks are cause for concern.

On the plus side, I'm impressed by the gas mileage reports, with the bulk reporting averages in the 22 mpg range and many reporting 20 or so around town. While the Escape V6 is rated at 18/24, very few see averages above 20, and I usually get 16-17 in town. Not pretty, and these days that's an expensive habit.

There are several things which bugged me about the E, though, and hopefully some of you will have some helpful insight. One is the way the options are packaged. The DX is truly a stripped model, and there appears to be no way to pick and choose upgrades - it's an all or none proposition. I would want A/C, ABS and cruise control; everything else (to me) is fluff. But ABS and cruise are only on the EX. It's also especially annoying that the 4x4 forces the skylight on you, the (nearly) useless roof opening being on my "don't want!" list.

Another issue is petty, but it stands out in my mind as "Gawd, that's cheesy!" - the strap and carabiner to hold up the rear seats using the Jesus handles. That's a kitchen-table solution if I ever saw one. Anybody try to improve on the quality of this arrangement?

I was also annoyed that adding A/C to the DX is $1500 at the local dealers - that's nearly half of the diff between the DX and EX. Fortunately, partscheap.com has the A/C install kit for $700 and change, and in perusing the installation instructions is something I could easily do as an experienced mechanic. Anybody on the board install the A/C themselves?

Getting a good price should be easy. One dealer I visited hinted at being slightly desperate to get Elements off of their lot, with EX's (probably 2WD) being advertised in the $18.5K range. The E's design is a little too quirky for the typical conservative Midwest car buyer, so they're going to languish on lots more than on the Coasts.

Haulage aside, I'm slightly encouraged to get out of the Escape because it is now out of warranty. It has a (deserved) reputation for problems with the auto transmission, and automatic transmissions are not something I enjoy working on.

All thoughts appreciated!
 

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Well, I can't answer all your questions, as I have a 2wd DX. Didn't want the "extras" in the EX, like a radio, pretty seats and all what not. I love my E still, after 8000 miles. The windshield thing is resolved in Elements older than about number 6500, I believe...Do a search, the TSB is out there and includes the fix for the windshield cracking and the VIN# range involved. Don't know about engine leaks, my steering rack leaked and Honda replaced it.
The DX is a stripper, for all intents and purposes. All I wanted was air and a roof rack. I ended up with a few more things, but drove it away in April for 17,500, which turned out to be a pretty fair price. If you want fancy geegaws like ABS and cruise, get the EX, I guess. The cheeze of the carabiner and strap for the back seats is quickly overcome. I kinda think it's cool, but then I'm pretty easily amused. The car is dirt cheap for what it is and the humble, inexpensive carabiner is a pretty good way to reduce breakable fancy ass engineering nightmares to address a simple dilemma IMHO.
I too bailed out of a Ford recently, so I feel your pain. My wife's Windstar was dying, so I got the Element for me and an Odyssey for her...So far so good!
 

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[quote:e11550e668="MikeQBF"]Hello, all! Glad to make your acquaintance.


One particular question I have is about the auto-AWD. I've owned true 4x4's and know how much difference that a fully-engaged 4x4 system makes in poor traction conditions. The Escape has an auto-4x4 mode, which I consider nearly useless relative to turning it on - by the time the "auto" mode engages, you are already in trouble. How responsive is the Element's 4x4 system... really? I would especially appreciate a response from somebody with firsthand experience with true 4x4. (Not that I don't trust the positive buzz I read on the board. Relative to 2WD an auto 4x4 will be astounding... but I'm interested in an evaluation of the Honda system from somebody who really knows the diff.) [/quote:e11550e668]

Don't know as I have yet to see the Elements AWD in action.

In surfing the board, I discover that the Achilles' heel of the E is the windshield, and some problems with rear door window leakage. Have these been solved in current production? Also, the mentions of engine oil leaks are cause for concern.
Haven't heard about the rear window leakage much at all. My June production with 4500 miles has no issues, including window problems, but this was my biggest concern.


Another issue is petty, but it stands out in my mind as "Gawd, that's cheesy!" - the strap and carabiner to hold up the rear seats using the Jesus handles. That's a kitchen-table solution if I ever saw one. Anybody try to improve on the quality of this arrangement?
Same setup as in my Toyota Landcruiser(not known as a cheap cheesy vehicle), don't think it is cheesy at all.

I was also annoyed that adding A/C to the DX is $1500 at the local dealers - that's nearly half of the diff between the DX and EX. Fortunately, partscheap.com has the A/C install kit for $700 and change, and in perusing the installation instructions is something I could easily do as an experienced mechanic. Anybody on the board install the A/C themselves?
Who cares, you said you wanted ABS and Cruise anyways, just get the EX.

Good luck with your decision!
 

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I have the awd EX, and it pulled me right out of a very very loose sand dune on the side of the road in Ontario that I had rolled onto at about 20mph. Even with all 4 turning, it was digging in slightly because I was at full pressure in the tires, but came right out no problem. 2wd would not have made it. Other than that, our previous family car was my wife's fwd CR-V, and I've never had a single situation in that car where I felt like I needed awd. Granted in Louisville, KY, we don't normally have huge snow events, but we get our share, and it performs perfectly.

Get the EX, have the rear sunroof limo tinted for $25 and forget about it. I like having it open and taking it out for some drives, but that's me.

If you don't like the carabiners, don't use them, just pull the seats out when not needed, it's not hard at all.

Not every car is for everyone, and my gut feeling says the E may not be for you because there are several things that are the fundamentals of the E that you have concerns about.
 

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... by the time the "auto" mode engages, you are already in trouble ...

I have a 5-spd AWD EX and I love it. But if you are already comparing it to an SUV with true off-roading capabilities then this is NOT the car for you. It was never designed to be one. It sounds like you are looking for more traction control to keep you out of trouble than permanent 4WD capabilities. IMHO, knowing your car and how it handles is a better predictor for staying out of trouble then any technology.

If you want to test how smooth or the "feel" of AWD engaging then test drive a 5-spd on some back roads. The 5-spd is geared so low that getting the AWD system to engage intentionally is not a problem.

In surfing the board, I discover that the Achilles' heel of the E is the windshield, and some problems with rear door window leakage. Have these been solved in current production? Also, the mentions of engine oil leaks are cause for concern.

As mentioned above the windshield issue has been addressed. I have not heard nor experienced any rear door leakage. The oil leakage problem you are refering to involves the main seal. I have only read two cases of this happening to other member on this board. So statistically you are fairly safer.

... the 4x4 forces the skylight on you, the (nearly) useless roof opening ...

I don't know about you but I have already transported a small tree with it sticking out the sunroof. I have also taken my wife out to the drive-in where the seats and sunroof arrangement have come in handy. :D IMHO, it is far from useless.

Ultimately whether this car is right for you is entirely up to you. However I think it is important to note you are asking a slightly biased crowd since most of us own and love the Element. Aside from a few quirks, like the lack of a third seat in the rear, I think the Element is a stand out in its segment.
 

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Wow!!! That was a doozie of a forst post.

First off, Welcome to the Club....and an extra specail Hello to a fellow St. Louisian!!!!! Yeah!!!!!

I have a EX 4WD....and have had it since 3/31/03 (purchased at Steve Vincel Honda...great service!!)

My E has yet to kick into 4WD yet, so I can't help on subject.

There have been some issues with the Windshields, but if you check the vin #'s you should be fine, same with the hatch window.

As far as getting an EX 4WD and having a "useless" sunroof....don't knock it until you try it....great for star gazing and watching fireworks, also it lets a good deal of fresh air into the back....friends and pets will enjoy thing on road trips!

I know I didn't address all of your questions, but it sounds like you have some thinking to do. The E is not for everyone, but thankfully it is for me!

Keep on reading all the information you can get your hands on and go for a few more test drives....the answer will come to you!

If you do get an E, I will finally have an E buddy here in St. Louis!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: ....please don't let that scare you off from the E....I promise I don't bite :twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
'Preciate the welcome, Diane. E's around St. Louis are few and far between. About the sunroof... when we're after al fresco, we take the Miata.

:D

If it added utility it might be different, and it makes some other stuff I need that's related to the roof marginally more difficult to do (it's complicated, so let's address that another time).

About the AWD thing... I'm not necessarily looking for true 4x4 and definitely am not after heavy off-roading - that's not the Escape's bag, either. I'm not deadset against an auto-engaging 4x4, but my experience with the Escape a couple of winters ago made me a little leary of it. The problem was accelerating in a turn in the snow - we were sideways before the auto 4x4 decided to kick in. Turning the 4x4 to "on" solves that. If the Honda AWD is quicker on the uptake it won't be an issue, which is why I need somebody with true 4x4 experience to address this. With the E so new maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree and should go look for input from a CRV forum (same system).

The EX vs. DX is a pricing issue, and in my current situation is at the "affordability" threshold. Truth is probably that if I "optioned" the ABS, A/C and cruise control it would be the entire difference, and I wouldn't get the better wheels and other perks. Hmmmm...
 

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[Please pardon the slight thread hijack]
Silk - I sure hope to see a picture of that tree sticking out of your sunroof. :lol:
 

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If you're a cyclist doing an event in St. Louis, no doubt you know my good friend and deadbeat Tim Ranek. Tell him I said hi and to drop 20 lbs!

Good advice you've received thus far. The E is a helluva bike hauler, or anything hauler for that matter. A lot more refined though than something like a Cherokee, which sounds like you might like. Have you checked into those? Of course, you'd have the same worry over long-term viability. Maybe a Montero would work for you, though. But for the cash, the E is unbeatable imho.

Mine was built in early July. If you get 5spd, no worries about VIN as ALL those were built after the TSBs on those issues. No oil, rear window leaks or anything else for me. WS got chipped by a rock at 84mph, my own fault is my guess (just about anything will chip at that speed), although the ws is similar to a pickup and thus might be an attractant for chips.

In my 4WD 5spd EX, I get 20+ miles city (the nicer I am to it, the better mileage I get, but I ain't that nice!). I dig the roof; I also wondered about it, but it is pretty cool. I leave it out most of the time. Yes, you should be able to pick up an E for cheap $, but this is not a cheap ride. Honda doesn't mess around with quality (not like other mfrs, anyway).

If you want an '03, I'd say you could get one at or near invoice. I got mine for $600 over out the door here in KC (I had another dealer down to $300 over but he couldn't get me a 5-awd for a few months). The '04s will arrive pretty quick. I'll warn you, 5spd is a little tougher to get, but also probably tougher for dealers to sell, so you still win.

I suppose you could install both an aftermarket a/c and cruise, but abs would be tougher. I'd just get the EX; resale will work in your favor and you can train instead of taking it apart and wondering about components. You might check the accessories/aftermarket section of this site or hondaelement.org or hondasuv.com for more info on a/c installs, etc.

You have my sympathy on the Escape, good looker that it is. Get the heck out it, now -- my gf's sister has one in Columbia. It apparently likes to "die" while tooling down the road. I will say that the utility of my E astounds me at times. And the fact that I don't see many others yet (here in cowtown, anyway) is kinda' cool. Good luck with your decision, your purchase and your event!

Steve
 

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Mike,

Purchased my SMM AWD EX in January. I have ~12k miles on it now and the ONLY problem I've had is the windshield. Having replaced it once I've not had any further problems with it (except to note that I HAVE been hit by more rocks/debris in the last 8 months than I have in the last 15 years combined - since everyone's naming their Es maybe my box's should be The Incredible Rock Magnet...).

No leaks ANYWHERE. I did have the in-dash CD player replaced after about 3 months - it's perfect now. MOST of the dealers I've read about here in the forums are pretty responsive to any complaints.

If you're still pondering the DX/EX issue, I would certainly go for the AWD/EX if $$ permits. You're definitely going to want that A/C in St. Louis and that add alone gets you pretty close in $$. The EX also gets you the stereo, cruise, the armrest, and the nicer wheels.

Good luck,

Frederick
 

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Hi and welcome to the group. I also own a 1997 CRV which has this AWD drive system the "E" has. It is a automatic so let me tell you the response is uncanny. I was wondering too about how it would kick in so I tested it. I went out after it snowed to a vacant parking lot that wasn't plowed and stopped in the middle away from any danger. Then I pinned the gas. The car drove in a straight line with no signs of slippage. All wheels spun to compensate the oversteer. Think of the AWD drive system as the posetraction (hope I spelled that right) in the rear wheel drive cars. The wheels alternate in traction to keep the car under control. If your worried about the AWD system don't because it has been already out and tested for 6 years now in the CRV. My wife love's the idea of no buttons to push, less complicated for her.

As for price. Yes the dealers are trying to move the "E"'s out. The 2004's are coming out in about a month. My dealer gave me $2000 off the sticker of the EX which was $21,000 but now was $19,0000. I would check with other dealers. YOu'd be surprised the deals you can get on them now. Some even give 0% financing which I wish I waited for but the dealer still beat the bank. I got 4.75%.

The sunroof is great. It was a great idea to have it in the back. Like someone else said you stick things through it. It adds to the versatility of the car.

As for speed, I test drove the ford escape and feel for you but you can't compare the escape to the honda engine wise. The escape is fast but in my opinion so is the "E". When I drove the escape on the highway it doesn't have the top end speed the "E" does. The "E" is begging for more. I've zipped through traffic with my "E" with ease. The "E" is more like driving a car than a truck. The car doesn't dip into turns like the escape does and it corners like you wouldn't believe for a car the way it is shaped. I drive 150 miles a day to work in my "E" and it is a thrill to ride.

As for the windshield, I asked my dealer as far as he knows they fixed the problem. He hasn't seen any problems in over 6 months. And as far as the view. I got used to it after the first week. I got used to the feel of the car real quick. I had a 2 door accord before this.

As for functionality. The "E" is the best. Seats remove and a lot of options from the dealer to make the car even better but if you're like me I'd rather use the do it yourself mods from the brillant members from our group. They have come up with some really great ideas and saved me lots of money.

Overall, the "e" is a great car but like someone said it isn't for everybody. Look around at other cars, I did. The only problem is this was my third Honda. Yes my third. I put 115,000 miles on my '88 accord before I traded her in and my CRV now has 118,000. Hands down Honda makes great cars.

Hope this helps you out and Good luck to you.
 

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E's around St. Louis are few and far between.
Tell me about it!!! I see way more H2s than I do E's :cry:

I normally go about a week or so between seeing another E on the road...I do however always see a NBP E at Clayton and 64/40 everyday in the parking lot at Louie Magazine.

I ocassionaly see a GGM E with Coldwell Banker signs on the door.

I drive a EBP E with "Pivo 2" plates....so if ya see me give me a wave....we are in Creve Coeur and I comute to Clayton everyday :lol:

Now, back to you post.....St. Louis has lots of E's on the lots....I bet you can get a real deal on an EX if you decide to go that route...with the 2004's coming out and the fact that E's aren't flying off the sales lot here....if you decide to go with the E I would recommend emailing all the local dealer's internet sales managers and start the negotiations....and remember if you go decide to buy at the end of the month it doesn't hurt!

Best of Luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Gosh! I know what you mean about the H2's. Ridiculous. My wife covets an H2 (in yellow, of course), but that's not going to happen in our lifetime.

Creve Coeur
Amazing! :shock: So are we! We'll have to meet sooner or later at the new BreadCo at Olive/Old Olive. I'll keep an eye out for you.

I'm probably not going to be able to move fast enough for EOM deals this month. I have to clean-up the Escape and find a buyer; there's just no way I'm going to take the 20% hit going the trade-in route. Plus this is the "insane season" with some key clients and time is a bit scarce for all this. But I'd better not drag my feet too much... I might not get close to what I want.

Thanks, klynch - that's what I was wanting to hear. BTW, the E would be my fourth Honda, although that was a long, long time ago, back when the dealers were insufferable and would think nothing of adding 10% to the sticker price, telling you to take it or leave it. Now they just act like regular car dealers, take that any way you want...

:wink:
 

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Amazing! So are we! We'll have to meet sooner or later at the new BreadCo at Olive/Old Olive. I'll keep an eye out for you.
Scary! My husband and I live right off of Olive....I take Olive to 270 everyday!!! My husband also covets a H2 in yellow, but says that he will settle for an E in yellow or red....but since he isn't getting rid of his sweet ride ('90 Honda Civic) until after he finishes his MBA next year, he can just keep on dreaming.

When he asks me if we can get an H2....I simply say "Well if we win the lottery OR depending on the job you get when your MBA is complete!"

I gotta throw him a dime every now and again :wink:
 

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The h2 should come with a gas tanker behind it
:lol:
BTW is that a yellow corvair in the pics you posted? (4th pic)

Man I could never get a yellow car. You might as well paint a bullseye on the side that says give me a ticket. I speed too much and I always try to get the least noticeable color. I'll stick with silver's and blue's.

Here I ordered you a yellow one

 

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[quote:e8effde5ad="Silk"]As mentioned above the windshield issue has been addressed.[/quote:e8effde5ad]
Is everyone pretty confident about this?

The only reason I ask is my E is way out the VIN#'s listed on the TSB and it cracked by itself -- was able to get it replaced under warranty, but it did have to visit two seperate dealers.

There're some recent posts on HondaElement.org like that, too. :?:
 

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Just read in another group that there windshield was cracked when they walked out of their job. His "E" is only 1 week old! This is messed up. Didn't they test this car for a couple of years like they did in japan with the CRV? They tested the crv for 2 years in japan before releasing it into the US market. Kind of wonder why the HRV isn't here yet. Anyway this is getting really freaky :evil:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Here I ordered you a yellow one
Appreciated! :wink:

No, that's not a Corvair - it's a Fiat 850 Spyder. It was rear-engined like the Corvair, but it was water-cooled. 900cc engine!
 

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klynch13 said:
Didn't they test this car for a couple of years like they did in japan with the CRV?
Maybe Honda alternates US/Japan test markets so that it doesn't thoroughly irritate one or the other?! :D

I knew that buying a first-year vehicle was going to have its risks. So long as Honda is willing to stand behind the '03 Elements and fix the issues without a hassle, I'll be satisified. It just worries me to hear so many "bad dealer" stories when it comes to the windshields.
 

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Update-My windshield cracked and it is only 3 weeks old. They say it was a impact scratch not a stress crack. Since my car isn't part of the recall I have to put it through my insurance but they said if my car does become part of the recall they would reimburse me.
 
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