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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 Honda Element Review

by Martha Hindes

Honda Element
2005 Honda Element

Now you see it. Now you don't. At least that's how rumor has it. Maybe it's elemental whether Honda's punky Element will remain a big, boxy customizer special, or whether it will get more mainline trappings during an expected upcoming design makeover. The point is, however, if you simply adore this quirky radical's styling, you might consider getting it sooner -- just in case.

The car-based Element, which lands in the Crossover category since it really doesn't fit anyplace else, is one of those one-of-a-kind experiments that has lured a surprising range of fans from 16 to ?? (One middle-aged man ran full speed across a street to keep us from driving off in our road test model until he could check it over, inside and out.) It's even spawned something of a visual imitator in the square-shaped Scion xB (although Toyota execs might argue that point).

But Element as a whole remains unique, with its voluminous interior accessed by center-split, over wide side doors, hose-down interior (the perfect travel home for a muddy Labrador Retriever), front or four-wheel-drive, pop-open rear roof (AKA Speedo "changing room" for males only), available manual trans for the adventurous and tailgate-party-ready rear access with a split-rear gate that will keep you dry overhead if it rains while you swing your feet from the lower half. Whew.

Honda has trimmed out the Element nicely for '05, making front side airbags and XM Satellite radio standard on the higher-end EX model, while adding tailpipe finishers and two new composite body panel colors (black and blue) for added two-tone effects. LX gets power mirrors, cruise control and new wheel covers. Cargo Khaki, Magnesium Metallic, and Rallye Red join the exterior color palette. We think those are added primary reasons for considering the Element, already loaded with standard equipment, that - tops - still squeaks in under a 20 'thou base.