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Hey, I got an Element 4WD EX Shoreline Mist a month ago. I have already taken it and friends to the coast one weekend and a snowy mountain trip the next. I have a long history with "sensible" utility vehicles, starting with a '78 VW Bus, '91 Vanagan Syncro, Suburu Loyal, and Subie Forester. The Element replaces our Loyal so its just the Forester and Element. First off, even though I enjoy kayaking, mountain biking and snowboarding, I find the Element marketing horrible and embarrassing. I love the car, but that high concept gen-y marketing speak just makes me cringe!!! As with my other vechicles, I like space, reliability, and utility. The element is more enjoyable to drive than our forrester which is a great car also.

I have been a devout stick shifter with my previous cars. I wanted the Element 4wd and 5spd, but had a hard choice to make; either wait til summer for a small chance to get one, or risk the automatic. One thing about the 5pd i didnt like when test driving was its higher position. The distance is comfortable, but i didnt like the height. I like to rest my hand on the shifter and on most vechicles its a lower and more natural resting position than the slightly higher resting position for the element. I have had my fill of automatics with rental cars and have always hated the experience. I do not like not having control expecially on steep and snowy roads and going up hills. Well I am happy to say the element has made me a automatic convert. I love the ability to turn off the overdrive and be able to shift myself to allow the engine to slow down the car while comming off a snow covered moutain pass rather than breaking (I found it is easier and smoother to do in the automatic element than downshifting with a stick). Also, the new automatic feature introduced in the element that limits the gear cycling while going up steep hills if absolutely terrific!!!

So there is my experience so far. My only hope is that Honda will modify its marketing and put to end my embarrassment and perhaps target a demographic that may have the money to buy a new car.
 
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