San Francisco: Honda
introduced the Element several years ago as a rugged, go anywhere, do
anything, carry anything youthmobile. Eschewing graceful, sweeping lines
for the appearance of a shipping container, the Element had its own kind
of “stick it to the man” coolness.
With its double doors
on one side, low tailgate, and fold-up or removable seats, you could
haul a month’s worth of camping equipment. With optional Real Time
four-wheel drive, you could traverse the dirt, sand, and snow with ease.
Now, with the SC, the
rugged, hose-it-out Element dons city duds and is living the urban life.
By replacing the gray or black plastic side panels with matching painted
surfaces, throwing on radical 18-inch rims, and carpeting much of that
plastic floor, the Element is now in its element - in town.
The SC gets much more
to distinguish itself. A tuned sport suspension drops ride height by
just over three-quarters of an inch. The SC gets 30 percent firmer
springs and dampers and stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars, along
with a six percent faster steering ratio. While hardly a sports car, the
SC is more fun to drive with its more immediate response to sudden
It’s a lot more fun to
look at too. My Root Beer Metallic test vehicle stood out from the LX
and EX models with its unique grille and projector headlamps up front,
custom painted bumpers and bold alloys, all enhanced from lowering the
Inside SC models with
the Root Beer or Nighthawk Black bodies get a copper colored instrument
package. Using piano black trim in place of the typical silvery plastic
adds a surprising elegance. The fabric pattern on the seats and doors is
called “tattoo.” It looks like those strips of wavy lines that many
people are choosing to adorn their arms with these days. Carpeting the
passenger area cuts the echo but removes the camping practicality. It’s
unlikely that the new buyers will care.
Every Element benefits
from a 10-horsepower boost in its four-cylinder engine. It now puts out
166 horsepower, which through a standard five-speed manual or optional
five-speed automatic gives it plenty of pep. While all Hondas aim for
maximum fuel economy, this one gets a decent 22 City, 27 Highway. It
does weigh 3,500 pounds after all.
automatic earns slightly better economy numbers than the manual model.
Today’s computers drive more efficiently than the humans behind the
wheel. The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide gives the Element a 6 for both the
Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas scores.
The Element will get
you there safely. It features a package of front and side airbags as
well as side curtain airbags for head protection. The Vehicle Stability
Assist (VSA) system can sense oversteer and understeer, terms that mean
the car is turning faster or slower than your intention, and can adjust
brake pressure at each wheel or reduce engine power to bring the car
back into line.
The Element may be
basic looking, but it comes well equipped. Even things like a tire
pressure monitoring system and keyless entry are standard. And the SC
gets a 270-watt audio system with seven speakers, including a subwoofer
in the dash.
Living with the Element
is nice for the most part. You sit up high enough to see over some cars,
the controls are well weighted and designed, the interior is quiet, and
the shape is very practical. I bought two bicycles during the car’s stay
with us and I was able to bring them home from the store, standing up,
with only their front wheels removed.
The fold-up seats
create a long, high, and wide space - think big screen TV (but we didn’t
buy one of those). The only weak spot I thought was dealing with the
center-opening double side doors. You must open the front in order to
open the back, which hinges at the rear. On a wide-open driveway, that’s
no big deal, but in parking lot situations it can be awkward.
I also found it hard to
get side sun protection - the visor covers only the front half of the
upper window. The area around the windshield mirror is unprotected too,
so driving west in late afternoon or early evening (pick your season)
can be a little difficult.
Element prices start at
$18,980 for the LX model, move to $20,990 for the somewhat fancier EX
version, and will run you $22,775 for an SC. Add an automatic
transmission for $800, or four-wheel-drive (LX and EX only) for $1,400.
Add $595 for transportation costs too, regardless of model.
Like all Hondas, the
Element is proven for reliability, quality, and reasonable fuel
efficiency. If you can warm to its looks, it could be your ideal urban
camping vehicle. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San
Honda Home Page
content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: Honda’s do anything, carry anything youth mobile
Topic: The 2007 Honda Element SC
Word Count: 864
Photo Caption: The 2007 Honda Element SC
Photo Credits: Honda Element Internet Media
Series #: 2007 -
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2007 Honda Element SC
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2007 Honda Element SC