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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Until 2 weeks ago, I'd never seen or heard of a Honda Element, (probably in part because I don't own a TV, and am unlikely to see any magazines where it would've been discussed). Then a series of weird coincidences happened.

I saw one in a parking lot and circled it 3 times just to check out the "weird little SUV". That was on a Thursday. That Friday, I spent a considerable amount of time on the web investigating this little bread truck wannabe. Then, that Sat. I went out birding, (yes, BIRDING) with a group of foreign students in a Toyota Highlander belonging to one of them. We got solidly stuck in the mud after pulling off onto the shoulder to check out one site. The thing of it is that I don't think getting stuck was really the fault of the Toyota, but rather a combination of picking a bad place to pull off the road after a week of flooding combined with the "highway tires" that come standard on the Highlander. Anyway, we got to talking about what a shame it was to get back in the very plush, velor seated, carpeted Highlander after getting all muddy. It seemed to me that what's been missing from the SUV market for a long time has been a reasonably priced Sport Ute that really puts the Utility back into the forefront of the design: something that birders, fishermen, hunters, astronomers, beachgoers, campers and just plain folks could really use as a truly all purpose vehicle. Somehow, I just don't see Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expenditures and Toyota Highlanders filling that niche.

Well, on the way back from that ill-fated trip I made a point of stopping by the local Chapel Hill, NC Honda dealership just to see what the heck an Element really was. I test drove one, and before I'd even finished the drive was positive that I needed to immediately put my truck on the market and get an Element. It was Elemental.

Prior to that, I didn't even know that I was in the market for a new vehicle. When I bought my 2001 Toyota Tacoma Xcab, I bought it because I wanted an all purpose vehicle that would last for at least 10 yrs. When I bought it, I had every intention of keeping it at least 10yrs or 200K. Previously, I've had a series of station wagons and pickups. Each time, I've gone for whatever seemed to be the most utilitarian solution to the common problem of needing a vehicle that can either haul loads or burn up highway miles at reasonable gas cost or both. Typically, standard and mini-SUVs haven't appealed to me simply because they either don't get good gas mileage, or can't realistically haul bulkly loads. The Element seems to be the perfect merger of minivan, pickup, station wagon and SUV. It'd be nice if the Element got a bit better gas mileage, but it's right on par with the best small pickups and is far more utilitarian.

An open bed PU is great when one needs an open bed, but more often, it's just a lot of dead space. I wanted more carrying capacity than the typical small SUVs like RAV4 and CRV, for those times when going to Lowe's or Home Depot necessitate bulkier carry capacity. But, really, an open bed is a liability more often than not, and it generally requires a huge tradeoff in terms of enclosed space or ability to transport multiple people.

Anyway, I'm in the process of aquiring an Element. The choice of a multi-use box that gets reasonably good gas mileage, is fun to drive and looks interesting just raises the question of why this vehicle didn't appear years ago? Another question would be why Honda is targeting college kids with this thing? Are they the only ones that need flexibility and easy cleanups? I don't think so. In fact, this vehicle is a natural choice for birders, naturalists, wildlife watchers, campers, suburban home owners, and just about anybody that puts functionality above faux style and pretentious looks. As a weird aside, it also looks like it could be the absolute darling of amatuer astronomers who want a vehicle that can transport bulky scopes to dark sky sites. The reason it is particularly suited to that pursuit is that the moonroof is in the rear of the vehicle where it would be easy to set up a stool inside the vehicle with the scope pointing out of the roof. This would get the astronomer, (er, me) out of the elements, and in the warm comfort of the vehicle. That's truly unique.

I can't wait to get mine. Now the only question is green or beige (yeah, shoreline metallic mist or whatever the heck they call desert gold). 2WD or 4WD and std. or auto? Decisions, decisions. I think a green 4WD auto ought to do it. With luck, I should be able to get one for my 41st b-day. Yeeehawww!
 

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I too was amazed that this is targeted at extreme sports people until my wife pointed out that getting older IS an extreme sport!
 

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I agree, Honda's marketing this thing too narrowly.

Hey, but do I want a whole lot of these on the road?

I like having the 'oddball' or 'not so common' vehicle in the neighborhood.
 

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Great anecdote. It's a lot of fun owning the "oddball" car. In the 8 weeks I have owned my E, I have passed exactly 1 other E (a GG one). Anyway, welcome to the club of the "missed market".
 

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"Ford Expenditures" - Gawd, that's too dang funny! :lol:

I agree with ya, Nat. I owned my previous vehicle, a Nissan kingcab pickup for 13 years. Occassionally, having that open bed with which to haul very large items came in handy, but for the most part, it was wasted space that meant that mine couldn't be the vehicle of choice if more than 2 adults were going somewhere. (The pickup did make me a popular guy when my apartment-hopping friends rolled back around to moving time.)

More than anything else, I was attracted to the Element's unusual dimensions - I'm a big guy and finding a vehicle with sufficient headroom and seat width has been a persisent problem. The Element offers headroom in spades and thoughtfully omits the bulky console that makes so many other SUVs seem cramped. I'm also very happy with the "go ahead and make a mess" easily cleanable interior.

And like Ion, not the least of my points of pride in my new ride is the fact that it is the funkiest car on the block! 8)
 

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i think honda will figure out the audience soon enough. even though i'm in the target demographic (@ 25), the dealer told my wife and i that we were the first people under 40 who even looked at the element, much less bought one.

when honda collects their sales figures at the end of the quarter, i'm sure their marketing strategy will change to match.

s.
 

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It is interesting to note that the original poster mentioned that amateur astronomers with their telescopic equipment could find this vehicle suitable. I am an amateur astronomer with 2 telescopes (Celestron C5+ and Ultima 9.25) and I was also thinking how well suited the Element would be to my hobby!

With the large cargo area, versatile seating arrangements, non-carpeted flooring (I don't like carpets in cars), and AWD, it would be easy to drive to a remote, dark-sky location and setup the equipment. One could even camp overnight and sleep in the vehicle. No other vehicle I know of has such a specific appeal other than a full-size van.

The more I consider all the utilitarian advantages of the Element, the easier I can "get over" and even admire the unusual exterior appearance. :D

Cary
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
CptnSulu,
My orig. post got cut a bit, presumably by running over alloted space. Anyway, let me flush out my reasons for describing this vehicle as particularly suited to am. astronomers. It's not just that the seats fold out of the way or can be removed. And it's not just that it's an excellent blend of space, gas mileage and price point. The E would be perfectly suited to astro buffs just for those reasons and the comfortable ride to star parties. But look where the moonroof is located. It's over the cargo compartment; a space that can be cleared away, and is flat.

I'm thinking that in times of really cold weather, one could set up a stool and tripod inside the E, with nothing but the scope poking out into the frigid night. I've never seen another small, non-custom vehicle with a moonroof positioned just exactly right for attempting this. It's not a primary purchase consideration for me, but man, it sure is a nice reason to get the 4WD with the removeable moonroof.

Whatcha think?
 

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I think there is going to be an aftermarket for Element stabilizing jacks....
you know, to keep the E from jiggling while you are trying to focus/observe space objects.

Other uses as well.... 8)
 

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Yes, the placement of the moonroof over the flat floor does provide some unique observing ability. Not sure if the larger tripod mounted telescopes can fit through the moonroof and also be comfortable to use, however.

One problem with using the Element (or any other vehicle) as an observation platform is the vibration caused by movement of the occupant. Any vibration will cause the image in the scope to move significantly.

Yes, stabilizer jacks would be needed to maintain the vehicle's frame rigidity.

I guess one could also just lie down on the flattened rear seats and look through the moonroof at the night-time sky watching meteors or the moon until one drifts off to sleep.

When I first got my astronomical telescope, I used it during the daytime to check out the sights. From a mile away, I could see into a tall 25-story condo building. I could see people doing their dishes, walking from room to room, and watching TV, etc. Nothing exciting or scandalous, however. ;)

I used to run [email protected] on my computer, but I stopped.
I think they've run out of new datapackets and are just recycling them to subscribers for their computer do to something until new, raw data can be obtained.

By the way, I am also out of the "target market" age according to Honda marketing plans - 36 years and not into extreme sports. Although staying up all night in freezing night air with telescopes could be considered somewhat extreme (and bizarre) by most people.

Cary
 

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the local Chapel Hill, NC Honda dealership

You talking about Crown Honda? Bought my first used H there in 1986. In a snow storm. After a month of snow in February. My 3rd best dicker.


Until 2 weeks ago, I'd never seen or heard of a Honda Element, (probably in part because I don't own a TV, and am unlikely to see any magazines where it would've been discussed). Then a series of weird coincidences happened.

I saw one in a parking lot and circled it 3 times just to check out the "weird little SUV". That was on a Thursday. That Friday, I spent a considerable amount of time on the web investigating this little bread truck wannabe. Then, that Sat. I went out birding, (yes, BIRDING) with a group of foreign students in a Toyota Highlander belonging to one of them. We got solidly stuck in the mud after pulling off onto the shoulder to check out one site. The thing of it is that I don't think getting stuck was really the fault of the Toyota, but rather a combination of picking a bad place to pull off the road after a week of flooding combined with the "highway tires" that come standard on the Highlander. Anyway, we got to talking about what a shame it was to get back in the very plush, velor seated, carpeted Highlander after getting all muddy. It seemed to me that what's been missing from the SUV market for a long time has been a reasonably priced Sport Ute that really puts the Utility back into the forefront of the design: something that birders, fishermen, hunters, astronomers, beachgoers, campers and just plain folks could really use as a truly all purpose vehicle. Somehow, I just don't see Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expenditures and Toyota Highlanders filling that niche.

Well, on the way back from that ill-fated trip I made a point of stopping by the local Chapel Hill, NC Honda dealership just to see what the heck an Element really was. I test drove one, and before I'd even finished the drive was positive that I needed to immediately put my truck on the market and get an Element. It was Elemental.

Prior to that, I didn't even know that I was in the market for a new vehicle. When I bought my 2001 Toyota Tacoma Xcab, I bought it because I wanted an all purpose vehicle that would last for at least 10 yrs. When I bought it, I had every intention of keeping it at least 10yrs or 200K. Previously, I've had a series of station wagons and pickups. Each time, I've gone for whatever seemed to be the most utilitarian solution to the common problem of needing a vehicle that can either haul loads or burn up highway miles at reasonable gas cost or both. Typically, standard and mini-SUVs haven't appealed to me simply because they either don't get good gas mileage, or can't realistically haul bulkly loads. The Element seems to be the perfect merger of minivan, pickup, station wagon and SUV. It'd be nice if the Element got a bit better gas mileage, but it's right on par with the best small pickups and is far more utilitarian.

An open bed PU is great when one needs an open bed, but more often, it's just a lot of dead space. I wanted more carrying capacity than the typical small SUVs like RAV4 and CRV, for those times when going to Lowe's or Home Depot necessitate bulkier carry capacity. But, really, an open bed is a liability more often than not, and it generally requires a huge tradeoff in terms of enclosed space or ability to transport multiple people.

Anyway, I'm in the process of aquiring an Element. The choice of a multi-use box that gets reasonably good gas mileage, is fun to drive and looks interesting just raises the question of why this vehicle didn't appear years ago? Another question would be why Honda is targeting college kids with this thing? Are they the only ones that need flexibility and easy cleanups? I don't think so. In fact, this vehicle is a natural choice for birders, naturalists, wildlife watchers, campers, suburban home owners, and just about anybody that puts functionality above faux style and pretentious looks. As a weird aside, it also looks like it could be the absolute darling of amatuer astronomers who want a vehicle that can transport bulky scopes to dark sky sites. The reason it is particularly suited to that pursuit is that the moonroof is in the rear of the vehicle where it would be easy to set up a stool inside the vehicle with the scope pointing out of the roof. This would get the astronomer, (er, me) out of the elements, and in the warm comfort of the vehicle. That's truly unique.

I can't wait to get mine. Now the only question is green or beige (yeah, shoreline metallic mist or whatever the heck they call desert gold). 2WD or 4WD and std. or auto? Decisions, decisions. I think a green 4WD auto ought to do it. With luck, I should be able to get one for my 41st b-day. Yeeehawww!
 

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Great story Natural wonder. You brought up many good points. The E fills more rolls than Honda expected. Just wait though, the fun has just begun. I'm still madly in love with my E. Plus the EOC is a heck of a lot of fun! Congratulations on your new E.
 

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natural wonder Fantastic post! You should write the Honda ad's! We also do some Star gazing. We have the Celestron 6 Inch with the Gps tracking system.
Yes we do run [email protected] on all of our computers. The idle processing time is used by the Seti system. Helloooo, Et we are listening !! Never mind Twi, I was not talking to you this time !

I find all the reasons you listed valid. They are the same reasons I (we) chose to have 2 of them. We have had a number of posts about the reason to have an E. If you read through them all, you will find that all the reasons you have listed, show up one post or another. This is the first post I have seen that puts them all in one place. The point is that every member of this forum has his or her own personal reason for having an E. I have posted in several of those, to say, Yes this is a good reason for you to have one.

Thanks for the post!

Dom
 

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Uh... uh... uh... has anybody checked the date of the original post. :confused:
 

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Uh... uh... uh... has anybody checked the date of the original post. :confused:
I'm going to assume the answer is no.

WHen I got to the "Never heard of the Element" line, my eyes shot up to the date immediately. At this point, the Element is unique, but not rare. Sorta like those dustbuster GM minivans!
 

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Ha!! Mike....I was just ranting to my wife about how these old posts get revived! :D I've never even seen natural wonder on the boards before....seeing that all his posts were in 2003 :razz:

Of course I read the entire first post b4 I realized it too, but after I finished I thought....this can't be new.
 

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Enjoyed the story - old posting or not - and replies. Makes me wonder how many amateur astronomers and birdwatchers are also Element owners now (me and my wife too). Might be an idea for a poll (e.g., favourite star parties, equipment - some astronomers and birders are just as fanatical (mods, etc.) about their gear as their Element, etc.:)
 

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I remember reading this one and I thought it seemed odd and when I looked at the date I thought yeah I remember reading it new and could believe folks were posting to an 03 thread. I've been here pretty much since day one and I don't remember some of those folks. werD:shock:
 
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