Well, the spare is not full sized. It is located under the removal floor in the back of the Element. You can remove it without removing the rear seats. The compartment could be a bit bigger to carry tools, but it holds the spare ok.
In my opinion a spare need only be good enough to get you to the tire shop. It also needs to be out of sight. A friend has a CRV with the spare on the rear gate. A problem when opening , hard to keep a good cover from walking, and also causes major damage when hit from behind. Prehaps it would have been better put under the vehicle leaving a solid and stronger floor in the rear.
So, last night, me and my spare became very intimate. Got a flat at the store and had to change it in the dim lights of the parking lot.
One thing I noticed: A full size spare can be put into the well. something on the plate the holds down the spare says "this way up for full size" or something like that. It might be just for transport though, and not storage.
Anyway, the tire was easy to put on. Now hopefully I can get my tire fixed.
This is just my opinion, but of the 3 carrying methods mentioned here (internal, under, on the back), I like the under option the least.
My families last 2 large vehicles, a 90 Aerostar and an 88 Plymouth Voyager, both had full-size spares mounted under the back of the car.
If you end up not using them, it gets bad, real bad.
My dad and I had to cut the one off the Plymouth because the wheel and brace (holding it in place) were rusted together.
The Aerostar's tire actually fell off in a parking lot. My dad came out and started pulling out of the parking space when he hit something. When he couldn't see anything out the window, he got out and found it.
The single bolt that held the tire in place had completely rusted, and just snapped. Good thing no one was driving at the time.
Not I have a 99 CR-V, and I rather like having the wheel on the back. I still have an internal wheel well in the back, and I am able to store an blanket and pillow (for emergencies) in it.
If the wheel was on the back, it would look like a crv. That, and there wouldn't be a tailgate because the wheel/hatch would have to swing out.
I was driving my old vw vanagon one day and the spare dropped out from the front. I was on the freeway at the time, so it kinda startled me. anyway, i agree with that not using the spare when it is underneath may hurt in the long run.