Honda Element Owners Club banner

Xterra vs. Element

6241 Views 25 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  45stang
I have been car shopping for a while and have narrowed it down to the Xterra and the Element.

I actually like the Xterra better, but I like that the Element is cheaper and better gas mileage.

But the Element seems a little too trendy for me. Any thoughts?
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
There are way more Exterra's out there at the moment than Elements. Don't think you have to worry about being trendy in an Element.
Deciding factor for us was that we couldn't find a manual Xterra anywhere plus the carpets looked really tacky - lots of gaps and places where they looked like they wren't installed correctly. Price was higher too if I recall. Also, we couldn't find any base model Xterras - everyone we saw had all kinds of dealer add-ons which really brought up the price. Our Element is a base model EX manual in SLM and we love it. Oh, our other vehicle is a Nissan pickup truck, so we really did seriously consider the Xterra.

Another point - look at the consumer reports reviews of the Xterra - they're not very good.
Looks like littledogbox had some trouble with his post.

My first choice was the xterra, or the fronteir. Unfortunatly there were a few things about the xterra I couldn't get past.

1. Too short to sleep in.

2. to go to the cabin I would have to put the back seat down, which ment the dog would be drolling on my head.

3. The millege and emmissions.

Nissan need to seriously improve the millege and emmissions and make a more flexible interior.

If you have a dirty lifestyle (as in mud) a carpeted vehicle is not a great idea. The element has change my attitude toward my trucks. I don't want to drive around in my living room. (the one you never let anyone into because it is too nice.) I want to drive around in my rec room.
See less See more
I had debated getting an Xterra before finding my E. There were two things I really didn't like about the Xterra:

1: There is no leg room in the back seat
2: When you want to fold the back seat down you have to actually remove the seat cushion and where do you put that?
I own a 2000 Xterra, V6 XE. Got it when it first come out.
What I'll tell you about is my "X"perience:

On the Plus side... REAL 4WD ability for off roading (handy for our Canadian winters), awesome looks, reliable, stadium seating for back seat passengers, spacious interior, nice large radio and dial controls, good value--lots of stuff included that you must pay for in an Element like side step rails, roof rack, key fobs, security system

On the Down side... gas guzzler, mine had some fit and finish issues, but Nissan fixed them, not as versatile as the Honda Element, steering not as "tight" as I'd like it to be.

I have been checking out the Element as an alternate to the Xterra.
My girlfriend thinks the Element is very ugly, but the looks have grown on me. I have got to take it for a test drive one of these days.

After I bought the Xterra which was only a month old, they released a better version a year later with 6 disc CD changer, side mouldings to prevent scratch and a few other upgrades. I regretted getting my X so early and because of this experience I'm going to wait at least a year before seriously considering buying an Element... or if there is an unbeatable sale on one. My guess is that Honda will smarten up and throw some more stuff into the package for next year. Let's hope.

In summary, the Xterra is a pretty good package especially if you're an off roader-type (I'm not), but expect to pay for the gas. The Element also has that quirky appeal, better gas mileage, van-like usefulness and the Honda seal of approval. But my guess is that Honda will include a few more upgrades for next years Elements.
See less See more
If I got an Xterra, I would get a 4x2. I surf and snowboard but don't do much off-roading. I live in LA so you can't drive on the beaches and even when I go snowboarding, the snow is usually pretty light.

But if I got the Xterra I would splurge on the 4WD.

Gonna test drive an Element this weekend, I'll let you know how it goes.
My trade-in was a Nissan that served me well for 13 years, so I was primed and ready to go with another Nissan. Sadly, interior cabin space - or lack thereof - was the single quickest deciding factor for me. My head touched the headliner. It felt very cramped. :cry:

The E is awesome for headroom and roominess And I like the versatility of the E's cargo spaces. And I'm crazy about my Element's Land Rover-like, paramilitary, Hummer-wanna-be, toaster-on-wheels, take a licking and keep on tickin' good looks! :p
I like the way the Xterra looks, but the reviews on windnoise turned me off.

If I make a long trip (and I do), I don't want to hear all that loud noise.

Wind/Road Noise was identified as being pretty dag gone bad (quantifiably measured in decibels).
Interesting. How is the wind noise in the Element?
According to Car and Driver mag. The E is 2dB quieter than a Honda Accord Sedan.
I looked at the Xterra when they first came out. I was impressed with the outside good looks, but it the inside seemed too confining. Honda uses a lot of glass and does a good job of making vehicles seem roomy inside.

Roof racks add greatly to the noise. On my Suzuki Sidekick 2 door convertable, The noise was so loud that I couldn't hear the radio. The Element seems quiet in comparison. I never have to adjust the volume when going from the freeway to parking.
To all;

I apologize in advance for any thuggish Xterra owners that might visit your site.

Some, a small minority, are immature, small-minded, or in other ways crude to people who drive other vehicles, or attempt to compare their vehicles to the Xterra. I don't really understand the clannish behavior myself, but oh well . . .

I think you all have a very nice looking site, and I think I might just take a look around.

I have not looked at the Element myself, but I just might. My wife is looking for a larger vehicle, and neither of us are looking for an offroad machine, just a bigger vehicle.

I apologize for the Xterra-related trolls that I imagine are on their way.

Have fun with your vehicles!
See less See more
Originally posted by Jason Palmer:

2.) I like to take long drives and the Element seems more conducive to sleeping in your car.


I'm not trying to sell you on one or the other, just share some personal experience
2 things. #1 - if you like to take long drives, be doubly sure you find the element comfy for a long haul. I had a CR-V before my X. It was a well built, trouble free vehicle. It was also the most uncomfortable vehicle I had ever owned. Its the reason I sold it eventually. That's hard to pick up on in a 10-20 min test drive.I could last 3 hrs, tops. Then my ass was killing me and my legs were cramping up. I should mention I,m pretty average at 5'9", 160 lbs. Because of the short length(and the Element is even shorter)Honda puts the driver into a very upright, high seating position that I found got uncomfy real quick. Also to make the leg room stats look good, they shorten the seat cushions so you don't get a lot of support.
My X on the other hand is on par with several Volvos we owned previously. I can and have driven my X for 10 -11 hr days quite happily. I prefer the lower to the floor seats.
#2 - I always sleep in my X at the 24 hr mtb races and find it to be great for that. Because the rear seat cushion is removable, you can slide the front seat forward somewhat, tilt its back forward, then use the back seat cushion to bridge the gap back to the folded rear seat-back. Makes a level, almost horizontal bed.A 6' 4" person could easily sleep in it like that.Sometimes I stick a small pack under one edge to level it a bit. Toss in a Thermarest and your sleeping bag and it doesn't get any better!
I'd like to add a 3rd observation. I agree that Honda does better 'interior detail" such as carpet fit etc in general. However The X is a much more robust, heavy duty vehicle. Even when compared to many domestics, such as Blazer. That is where Nissan put their money. Just compare wheel lugs ( 6 vs 5 and larger size as well ) suspension components, frame ( the element doesn't have one), etc,etc, - basically everything under the skin so to speak on the X is much more substantial and will last a long,long time if properly cared for. Each manufacturer emphasises different aspects.These differences may not be readily apparent on the surface. That does come at a cost of reduced gas mileage, because it takes more energy to start and stop more mass.
See less See more
Bottom line, for everyday driving and practicality the Element wins.
For off-road and towing, the Xterra wins.
You can put a roof rack on any vehicle, so don't let that be your deciding factor.
Wind noise is greater in the Xterra, but road noise is greater in the Element (add carpet and that will help)
Gas mileage, cargo, and low maintenance interior, Element wins
Torque, ground clearance and "real" 4wd, Xterra wins.

The choice is yours, but I had the X and sold it for the E and I'm VERY happy I did
The choice is yours, but I had the X and sold it for the E and I'm VERY happy I did[/quote:eb29a91ca4]

My wife and I took a look at them, but it was after-hours at the dealership, so we were not able to look inside one.

She's not sure about the comfort levels, and she was unimpressed with the seats (she thought they looked cheap and uncomfortable).

Is that an incorrect first impression? How would you rate the comfort of the Element's interior?
The seats are actually more comfortable than the seats in our 2000 Xterra, the seats may have changed since. I'm waiting to see though what the seats feel like after a full day in the sun, seeing as the Element has that waterproof material. The good thing about the E's seats that the X did not have is the height adjustment. The X always felt like you were sitting low, where the E feels right....the overall view height out the windshield is higher in the X.
To me, the Element feels roomier and the controls are in very good locations. Only complaint is the cheesy armrest ( I'm going to build my own ). For the money, even though it's a 4 banger, the Element fits our lifestyle perfect. Tons of interior room, great functionality, easy cleaning, and the right size for city driving, the X has the size and looks of a larger suv but also the weight and gas consumption to go with it. I do not regret buying the X, had tons of fun off-road with our local club SOXC, but I'm now glad we have the E.
I have test Driven the E twice. I love the car and will most likely buy one in the next 6 months. Concerning wind noise though, the Element has considerably more wind noise than the 03 Accord, regardless of Car & Driver's dB rating.
[quote:6a2d469e41="OMG that's an ugly car!"][quote:6a2d469e41="lon777"]According to Car and Driver mag. The E is 2dB quieter than a Honda Accord Sedan.[/quote:6a2d469e41]

...and a billion times uglier![/quote:6a2d469e41]

Wow. I think I'm going to cry because an anonymous Internet troll's opinion doesn't agree with mine.

Or not.

1 - 20 of 26 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.