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I love my 2003 Element! But now, at 17 years old, I am considering replacing it. Car still drives well but there are a lot of noises, suspensions are not 100%, passengers window doesn't open from driver's side, have trouble opening car with key on the drivers side, doors springs can't keep them open, some rust on the exterior, etc...And mainly, I am concerned about safety as I often drive my 2 toddlers in it.

But what can replace it? Needs to be AWD, spacious (I can put my 9'8" longboard inside my E!), versatile, reliable.

I like Toyotas and Hondas (Wife drives an Acura RDX). I have started looking at the Honda Passport and might go for a test drive. What else should I consider?

I am sure many owners here have aging Es and have considered other alternatives.

Thanks for helping.
 

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Well, there's not anything quite like the Element available new these days, so anything else you look at isn't going to have the clamshell doors, seats that fold into the interior walls, or a low floor and tall ceiling like the Element. If you're okay with losing all that, I think a newer CR-V would be a nice replacement, and I think up until '19 the base models came with the same motor as the Element, although with quite a bit more horsepower and more gears in the transmission. I use my Element (also a 2003) as a work car, but like it so much that if it ever dies I'll consider getting a newer one with reasonable miles as a replacement. Bottom line there isn't really any new alternative to the Element, though the newer SUVs are probably much quieter, faster and more economical, but aren't as utilitarian per square inch as the Element. Unfortunately, most newer cars have become so refined that they've lost all 'personality,' which the Element has in spades. Another thing to consider is that repairing all the issues yours has will be a LOT cheaper than a new car, and it should then continue to give good reliable service for many years to come. Good luck, whatever you decide.
 

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There is no exact replacement but I agree with the Honda Passport as a good choice. It will probably be my next car once my 16 year old Element hits the end.

I test drove the Passport and really liked it. I prefer the way Hondas drive to Toyotas.
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Here's an interesting replacement for an Element. But at $65,100 it's not likely to happen unless I hit the lottery! But, I never play the lottery, so......................

 

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I have looked at the fit and HRV as the Backseats fold completely flat and the front passenger seat folds completely flat to meet the back seats. In essence it gives you cargo space from the rear of the car all the way to the dashboard.
 

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I'm going to be in the same position in the near future, although mine is an '06 I have only owned it since march 2017. It's been a decent car, but as I near 200,000 and after reviewing my detailed spreadsheet on expenses, I no longer hold the belief I once had that owning an old car saves money, even owning it outright.

At any rate, I have been building a spreadsheet to compare various SUV contenders, primarily focusing on the cargo space and the mileage. My aim is to buy a 3-year old car, so the specs here are all for 2017 models (although I plan on holding on to the Element for at least another 1-2 years; this is just for what-if comparisons had the need to buy now arisen).

Essentially, the Forester and the CR-V are on the top of my list. My concern with either is various complaints about these new engines and gasoline getting into the oil in excessive amounts, and complaints about the CVT transmissions (but I think that is more about the feel, rather than the reliability).

From a lot of renting cars this year for work, I have also driven a lot of SUVs.

I can tell you the Jeep Cherokee is a terrible vehicle, performance-wise (rides decent though). And the cargo space is super cramped. The Grand Cherokee was awesome (free upgrade on that rental), but out of my price range. Nissan Rouge was surprisingly decent, but cargo space is lacking. I have driven Hyundais, and just do not like them, so they aren't on my list. I have not driven a Sportage, or Forester, and only a 2016 CR-V. The 2017 CR-V was a significant overhaul, so unless you're going to go back a few years, the 2017 feature jump would be worth consideration over a 2016 or 2015.

Really, had it not been for the oil dilution issues in the CR-V, it would be an easy choice. And that issue affects all Hondas with the same 1.5L Turbo engine, not just the CR-V. Many, however, have had trouble-free CR-V ownership.

I'm definitely going to test drive a Forester, and a newer CR-V.

But if you are looking for cargo space, the CR-V is the closest I can find the the Element, with the RAV4 just behind it. And the gas mileage is also way up on the top of the list.

2017cargo mincargo maxMPG cityMPG hwyMPG combined
Honda CR-V3975263229
Subarau Forester3171263229
Nissan Rogue3970263329
Mazda CX-53159243127
Toyota RAV43873233026
Ford Escape3467233026
Kia Sportage3060233026
Jeep Cherokee2456213025
Honda Pilot1683182622
Honda Passport4178192421
Honda Element2574182421
Jeep Grand Cherokee3668182521
 

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The only thing I would even think of replacing a 2003 Element is with a 2011 Element with the possibility of low mileage :)
Since it was the last year of production, maybe that works for you?
 

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I have looked at the fit and HRV as the Backseats fold completely flat and the front passenger seat folds completely flat to meet the back seats. In essence it gives you cargo space from the rear of the car all the way to the dashboard.
I just sold my 08 E EX after having bought a 2019 HRV LX a week and a half ago. My wife has a 16 CRV, so that gave me some flexibility of getting a smaller vehicle. After driving only SUV's since 1998, I can never go back to a car, I feel like I can't see as well and getting in and out is much easier for me when sitting higher. The HRV has what they call the "magic seat" where both back seats (60/40) seat bottoms hinge up parallel (vertical) to the seat backs, and the result is a very high floor to ceiling area right behind the front seats which is quite roomy, while still having all the cargo area. Of course like you said they lay flat where you could haul something pretty long going all the way to the passenger side front windshield.

I'll miss my E and it was the best vehicle I've ever owned. Nothing ever went wrong (except two months ago, the passenger side power window regulator needed to be replaced). It still blows cold AC air and I think drives just as tight as it did when new. I bought the 08 E EX in March of 09 for $18,100 and just sold it for $6K. Pretty darn good if you ask me... luv Honda's.
 

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I'm going to be in the same position in the near future, although mine is an '06 I have only owned it since march 2017. It's been a decent car, but as I near 200,000 and after reviewing my detailed spreadsheet on expenses, I no longer hold the belief I once had that owning an old car saves money, even owning it outright.

At any rate, I have been building a spreadsheet to compare various SUV contenders, primarily focusing on the cargo space and the mileage. My aim is to buy a 3-year old car, so the specs here are all for 2017 models (although I plan on holding on to the Element for at least another 1-2 years; this is just for what-if comparisons had the need to buy now arisen).

Essentially, the Forester and the CR-V are on the top of my list. My concern with either is various complaints about these new engines and gasoline getting into the oil in excessive amounts, and complaints about the CVT transmissions (but I think that is more about the feel, rather than the reliability).

From a lot of renting cars this year for work, I have also driven a lot of SUVs.

I can tell you the Jeep Cherokee is a terrible vehicle, performance-wise (rides decent though). And the cargo space is super cramped. The Grand Cherokee was awesome (free upgrade on that rental), but out of my price range. Nissan Rouge was surprisingly decent, but cargo space is lacking. I have driven Hyundais, and just do not like them, so they aren't on my list. I have not driven a Sportage, or Forester, and only a 2016 CR-V. The 2017 CR-V was a significant overhaul, so unless you're going to go back a few years, the 2017 feature jump would be worth consideration over a 2016 or 2015.

Really, had it not been for the oil dilution issues in the CR-V, it would be an easy choice. And that issue affects all Hondas with the same 1.5L Turbo engine, not just the CR-V. Many, however, have had trouble-free CR-V ownership.

I'm definitely going to test drive a Forester, and a newer CR-V.

But if you are looking for cargo space, the CR-V is the closest I can find the the Element, with the RAV4 just behind it. And the gas mileage is also way up on the top of the list.

2017cargo mincargo maxMPG cityMPG hwyMPG combined
Honda CR-V3975263229
Subarau Forester3171263229
Nissan Rogue3970263329
Mazda CX-53159243127
Toyota RAV43873233026
Ford Escape3467233026
Kia Sportage3060233026
Jeep Cherokee2456213025
Honda Pilot1683182622
Honda Passport4178192421
Honda Element2574182421
Jeep Grand Cherokee3668182521
Better check your spreadsheet again. Losing 30% in the first year from depreciation is never recovered in repairs.
 

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I have looked at the fit and HRV as the Backseats fold completely flat and the front passenger seat folds completely flat to meet the back seats. In essence it gives you cargo space from the rear of the car all the way to the dashboard.
I just bought a Fit yesterday, but my Ex husband is going to keep the E so I'll be able to say hi when I drop our daughter off. For me, a larger person, I found the fit way more comfortable than the HRV which has the cockpit style center console I dislike. The Fit feels more open inside and I do love the fold flat seating. Also, fun color..it's bright yellow. My E is Tangerine
 

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Land Rovers have a very bad reputation for reliability. Especially now that everything is electronic. Most of the Land Rover drivers are actually leasers, not owners. i would save the $65,100 on a better brand.

Here's an interesting replacement for an Element. But at $65,100 it's not likely to happen unless I hit the lottery! But, I never play the lottery, so......................

 

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Here's an interesting replacement for an Element. But at $65,100 it's not likely to happen unless I hit the lottery! But, I never play the lottery, so......................

They look nice on the outside, no doubt, but go to a car max and have a look on the inside. I was shocked to see how much cheap plastic feel they have for the price.
 

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I love my 2003 Element! But now, at 17 years old, I am considering replacing it. Car still drives well but there are a lot of noises, suspensions are not 100%, passengers window doesn't open from driver's side, have trouble opening car with key on the drivers side, doors springs can't keep them open, some rust on the exterior, etc...And mainly, I am concerned about safety as I often drive my 2 toddlers in it.

But what can replace it? Needs to be AWD, spacious (I can put my 9'8" longboard inside my E!), versatile, reliable.

I like Toyotas and Hondas (Wife drives an Acura RDX). I have started looking at the Honda Passport and might go for a test drive. What else should I consider?

I am sure many owners here have aging Es and have considered other alternatives.

Thanks for helping.
I’m wondering why no one here has mentioned the FORD FLEX. I love the look of that car. Has anyone looked into it?
 

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I have noticed the Ford Flex, but haven't driven one or even studied them much.

They have the same boxy look as an Element.

They are considerably longer and quite a bit heavier than an Element. Their gas mileage is less than an Element, but is fairly close. They are V-6 powered.

However, Ford has discontinued them; 2019 was the last year.
 

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I know this won’t be a popular choice but the only AWD vehicle short of a full size SUV that matches or exceeds the Element’s versatility and reliability is the Toyota Sienna AWD version. Even bigger and more flexible cargo space as well as passenger space. And, much more comfortable on the highway. It misses the “cool car” factor by a mile (or more) but as practical, reliable and safe transportation it’s hard to beat. Gets about the same MPG too.
 

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Land Rovers have a very bad reputation for reliability. Especially now that everything is electronic. Most of the Land Rover drivers are actually leasers, not owners. i would save the $65,100 on a better brand.
Right on, Jimmy! :)

Yeah, I could probably buy a fleet of 10 really nice used Elements for what that one Land Rover would cost!

And I'm sure that the cost of repairs once out of warranty are through the roof as well!

It does look nice, however. But not even close to being worth what it costs.
 

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The only thing I would even think of replacing a 2003 Element is with a 2011 Element with the possibility of low mileage :)
Since it was the last year of production, maybe that works for you?
This is what I would do. If you are willing to travel and are patient, there are 2011s with less than 60,000 miles that come up on car sites from time to time. Even more, there are still going to be the "hardly driven" older model years with low miles.

If not, I am interested to see what the new Bronco is about - looks like it may have a lot of room due to its exterior shape and maybe a configurable interior.
 

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Why not just fix the problems? I have an 03 with 289K and was faced with the same dilemma about 3 years ago and decided that instead of a monthly payment of $400 or higher for a car that will never compare i spent about $2800 on repairs and now my high mileage E runs just as good as it did when new (ish). As long as it's not in an accident I expect this car to give me easily another 100K.
 

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I would never get into ANYTHING ELSE but another E! .. I look at every other SUV truck car vehicle and look at the backseats where your legs are so crammed touching the front seats in the front seat touching the dashboard and then I look at my element and that’s when I’m proud to be an element owner and if you get into an SUV that’s a little bit more roomy than a regular SUV you still won’t be able to park that beeetch in a tight space like an element. So never going back man! Lolol .. go with an awesome element :)
 
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