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Discussion Starter #1
I can't wait to see how the E really feels to drive.

I want to really get a feel for:
handling
potholes and bumps
acceleration
road noise
body sway (not the car body, my body)
the instrument panel
the A/C blowing good and cold
mirrors and rearward visibility
the feeling of being one with the car
and all those other intangible things that make a car right to drive.

The news that Honda will be delivering 5 spd 4WD EXs in June has also given me pause. I would love the extra zip! of a 5 spd but I have two hesitations:

(1) there's a chance that my mom, for whatever reason, might have to borrow my car. She can't drive a stick
(2) I strongly suspect I never really learned how to drive a stick correctly. My dad taught me, none too patiently, to push the clutch in when shifting up, when shifting down and when braking. That last one seems wrong to me but damned if I don't do it anyway. Actually, I'm wrong, he never really taught me to downshift at all, I picked it up myself. Nor did he teach me the thing about the emergency brake on hills. I was rolling down hill straight to Hell one day! So I think I'm screwed. :oops:

Drat. No extra zip for me. I feel that after a 6 cyl I'll miss that zip!

I'm still 2 weeks or so away from my actual purchase time. I am still not set on getting the E. I'm a fan of the E, from reading so much about it, and from reading what all of you have to say.

I'm hoping the E will be right for me. I'm going to give it every chance.

Wish me luck

Everyone have a great day and weekend!
 

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Good luck on the test drive! All I can say is I was driving to dinner last night, and I said to my wife, I just really love driving this thing! It's that simple. I have the EX 4WD Auto, and have no problems in town or the on the highway. It is just a very fun vehicle to drive. 8)
 

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One of the things you probably won't miss as much as you expect to is the zip. The 5speed is certainly more responsive in terms of agression, but even the 4sp auto is - as someone eloquently said recently, 'quick, but not fast'.

My experience is that the E is exceptional fun to drive. It's direct and involving and for those who like the experience, there's little else to compare it with. I think it handles very well. It goes precisely where you point it and leaves you in no doubt where it's going. You can hussle it into and out of corners and it'll let you know with understeer if you're going in too fast, leaving you to lift off to get it back in line, then power out of the corner to regain the momentum. Very predicatable. It's also comfortable, though the seats may feel a little hard to begin with, and I find the lateral support to be fine. You'll feel rough roads but not any more jarring than in most other vehicles. Road noise is higher in the back than the front, but doesn't seem intrusive. I can hold a normal conversation with back seat passengers at 70mph without having to raise voices over anything but the stereo.

I wasn't greatly impressed by the AC performance the one and only time I used it - chilly but not cold, though I'm not a great AC user so my expectations might be a bit off. I'm also not greatly impressed by the instrument panel. It's well placed if your seating position and steering wheel are adjusted just right, but otherwise the wheel can obscure parts of the panel. It's clear enough to read the instructments, but the warning lights seem a bit too strewn about. I like the mirrors and think if they're adjusted correctly they eliminate the blindspots well, but rear vision when backing up isn't all that great - at least not until you're used to it.

I'd guess that if there's a chance that someone who can't handle a manual gear change will need to drive your E, you'd best try out an auto to see if it's to your liking. I liked the 5speed manual box and the feel of the gear change, it made the drive more exciting and more involving, but the auto isn't all that far behind. It also removes the risk of 'doing it wrong'... and yes, unfortunately you should downshift when braking a manual transmission so the engine can help with slowing the car. Depressing the cluch leaves you freewheeling, which also leaves the brakes to scrub off all the momentum.

One point that you made struck a chord - 'the feeling of being one with the car'. The Element is the first car I'd driven in maybe 20 years (which shows I'm not in Honda's demographic) that gives me a real sense of being part of the machine. It's what I like most about it and I hadn't realized I'd missed that feeling through the Chryslers, Chevys, Fords etc. until I test drove an E and rediscovered it.

I hope you enjoy your drive!!
 
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