What Are The Best & Worst Years For The Honda Element? [My Honest Review]

Learn which years of Honda Elements are not good to buy

The Honda Element production started in December 2002, and the first model was not released until 2003.

Unfortunately for fans of the lineup, the vehicle would only see models till 2011, after which it was discontinued.

The discontinuation of the Honda Element led many people to believe that the car was not worth the purchase, and many people went on to ask about the best and worst years for Honda Element.

If that is the question you wanted to know, then you have come to the right place as here, I will be listing the years that I think are the best and worst for the Honda Element.

Worst Years for Honda Element:

  1. 2003
  2. 2004
  3. 2008
  4. 2006

Best Years for Honda Element:

  1. 2011
  2. 2009
  3. 2010
  4. 2007

I will be going over all these models in great detail to aid you in getting the best model possible, so read the article till the end to learn everything about the Honda Element and its lineup of models.

What Are The Worst Years For The Honda Element? Which Years To Avoid

The first few years of the Honda Element contained one of the worst models in the lineup, which hurt the perception of the lineup in the eyes of the people.

Here are those models which you should try your best to avoid!

1. 2003 Honda Element

As is to be expected with most cars on launch, the first model of the Honda Element, the 2003 version, was off to a very rocky start, suffering from 12 different recalls, which hurt the model’s reputation right out of the gate.

Many units of the Honda Element were recalled due to the airbag alone, which had a massive threat of exploding upon activation.

Additionally, this explosion would fling metal fragments toward the users, increasing the liability of injuries.

There was also an issue with the vehicle, which would cause the Honda Element to roll away due to an ignition interlock.

All of this was accompanied by major issues in the transmission, the engine, and the electrical systems, combining to make the vehicle very unenjoyable.

2. 2004 Honda Element

One year later, the people behind the Honda Element got a grip on the other problems that plagued the vehicle but still failed to identify the main problem with the airbags, resulting in the same number of recalls and bad publicity.

The airbags were still a major threat to the people inside the vehicle as they were liable to explode and rupture during deployment.

The danger of having small metal chunks flung at you by your vehicle is not something many people want and was a major complaint in the 2003 Honda Element and unfortunately carried over to this 2004 year model as well.

Furthermore, the NHTSA had a lot to say about the vehicle, citing various issues related to the windows, the windshield specifically, which was prone to cracks from seemingly nothing.

3. 2008 Honda Element

While generally being an okay vehicle, the 2008 Honda Element gets on this list for having more complaints.

While these complaints are less than the above models, they are still high enough to have me place the model in this spot.

One major grievance about the 2008 Honda Element model year was that its paint was constantly chipping.

No one wants to have a bad-looking car, but due to the cheap or low-quality paint used by the company, that is what most people got.

Additionally, the NHTSA had several complaints against the Honda Element, citing various issues about the breaks, which had a problem of premature brake wear.

4. 2006 Honda Element

The final model on this list is the 2006 Honda Element year model.

Even though it did come before the 2008 Honda Element, it had much fewer complaints and was able to reduce a lot of issues that past models had, but this was still not enough to save the model.

While not having any major issues, aside from the airbags that almost every Honda Element had, the 2006 Honda Element had small issues scattered almost everywhere, from the body to the engine to even the electrical systems.

These small and spread-out issues made the car very annoying to deal with.

What Are The Best Years For The Honda Element? Which Years To Buy

The Honda Element would later get a grip on its vehicle and start making splendid vehicles with little to no issues and great driving capabilities.

Here are the best models of the Honda Element that you should do your best to purchase if given a chance.

1. 2011 Honda Element

Starting off this list, I present the 2011 Honda Element, the last model of the lineup that people saw before the Honda Element brand was discontinued entirely, but as you will see, it went out swinging!

You had an amazing array of safety features and a spacious interior which allowed for a lot of backseat room and cargo versatility, making it the perfect vehicle if you want to go on long trips with your family.

Available in both FWD & AWD, the 2011 Honda Element also had a slew of optional equipment, such as a navigation system and a backup camera, all compelling choices to purchase.

2. 2009 Honda Element

Even though it was released before the 2011 model, the 2009 Honda Element was available in 3 different trims, one more than the 2011 model.

The main thing the 2009 Honda Element model has going for is that it is extremely fun to drive.

Great mileage and smooth driving combine to make the Honda Element extremely fun to drive.

The spacious interior makes it perfect if you have kids, and the exterior design is also visually very appealing.

3. 2010 Honda Element

Continuing the tradition, the 2010 Honda Element also came with three different trims, but one thing which set this model from the rest is its dog-friendly package.

There are not a lot of cars that care about dogs or pets in general, and in most cases, having your pet inside your car is a recipe for disaster.

But the 2010 Honda Element model comes with a simple add-on for the LX and EX versions of the model which essentially convert it into a moving dog kennel.

That’s not the only thing the car has going for; it also appeases human passengers with its great driving and roomy interior.

4. 2007 Honda Element

The final model on this list is the 2007 Honda Element, a car always on the border of being the best and the worst, which is why I opted to have it placed at the end of this list.

While the car features the same versatility regarding cargo and back seats, the back seat conversions can be a bit annoying, and the interior design is not the best, having poor controls.

While it is not the best of the bunch, it is by no means the worst and, in my personal opinion, deserves to be on this list.

How Reliable Is A Honda Element?

Regarding reliability, the Honda Element does a very serviceable job, being a mostly dependable vehicle that can get you through most of your daily driving needs.

While it is nowhere near the best when it comes to this regard, it is able to be better than more than half of other similar cars in its segment and manages to get a good score overall in this regard.

While it won’t make any waves when it comes to reliability, you can be sure that it will get the job done.

If you get yourself one of the better models listed above, you should find that little to no issues, and in the event that you do, it should be relatively cheap and easy to fix.

How Long Do Honda Elements Last?

Given that you are taking exceptional care of your Honda Element, you will find that the vehicle can last anywhere between 15 to 20 years, reaching mileages up to 300,000 miles.

At a minimum, you should expect at least 200,000 miles from your Honda Element, assuming you are giving it a decent amount of maintenance and have taken measures to increase the life of your car.

If you do not know how you can make your car last longer, then do not worry, as I am about to discuss that next.

What To Do To Lengthen The Life Of Your Honda Element

There are a lot of different ways that you can increase the life of your car, and here, I will be highlighting the best ways you can take care of your Honda Element so that it can last for a long time.

Here are some practices that you should develop to keep your car at maximum capacity:

  • Regular changing of car fluid (Engine fluid, Coolants, Brake Fluid).
  • Storing car in a sheltered place, safe from bad weather.
  • Frequent cleaning.
  • Repeated servicing and maintenance every 2-3 months.
  • Slow and steady driving.

Adopting these habits should help you get a major boost in the health and life of your car, making it last for many more years than it would have otherwise.

Things That Shorten The Lifespan Of Your Honda Element

On the same note, it is equally important for you to know the bad habits and things you need to look out for if you want to avoid shortening the life of your Honda Element.

Here are some things which you should avoid at all costs:

  • Driving on rough terrain.
  • Using cheap fuel.
  • Using low-quality and cheap parts in your car.
  • Driving in the cold weather.
  • Hard/ immediate braking.
  • Repeated brisk acceleration.

These are some habits that I am sure a lot of people are guilty of, which is why it is integral that you root them out so that you can focus on keeping your healthy well maintained.

3 Most Honda Element Common Problems You Should Know

While I mentioned a lot of issues that people complained about in the worst years for the Honda Element, it is time that I talk about the most common problem surrounding the Honda Element that you should know about before purchasing one.

1. Air Bag Issues

The air bags are probably one of the most common and reoccurring issues that you can find in the Honda Element.

This issue stretches far back to the first model of the Honda Element and can be seen as far as the last model in 2011.

Moreover, this is rather disturbing as the threat is a major one.

Not only does it turn a safety measure into a very deadly weapon, it further increases the risks of injury and fatalities.

In addition, the main issue with the airbags was that they would rupture or explode upon being activated.

This would cause metallic fragments to be flung toward the passengers, causing major harm.

There are many issues that the Honda Element can be forgiven for, but something this dangerous is not one of them.

Luckily due to the recalls, this issue should be very rare.

2. Ignition Coil Issues

While this issue is not as threatening as the airbag one, it is still a major annoyance for most people.

You would think that Honda Element putting the key into the ignition coil would be an easy task, but many models of the Honda Element made sure that you would have a tough time doing so.

A lot of owners of the Honda Element have complained about the key struggling to go into the ignition.

Many people were forced to pay absurd amounts of money to have the ignition coil replaced officially.

This is just one of the many problems with the key of the Honda Element, as this issue was also very common with the driver’s side door lock where the key would get stuck and in some cases, it would get so jammed in that the door would have to be taken apart.

3. Windshield Cracking

The windshield is one of the most important windows of any car as it protects the driver and passengers from wind, bugs, and other objects, which can help lessen the impact in the event of an accident.

It is due to these reasons that the windshield should be of high quality, but in the case of the Honda Element, the windshield had a very weird issue that caused it to crack for no visible reason.

Many owners of the Honda Element have complained about driving their cars only to have the windshield suddenly crack.

This crack would cause major obstruction and can even lead to the driver getting pulled over.

What is worse is that this issue would repeat even if you got a replacement windshield, meaning that it would be very difficult to rid yourself of this problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is Honda Element A Good Car?

When it boils down to it, the Honda Element is a decent vehicle that should provide you with serviceable driving and few problems, assuming that you get a good model.

Even if you get an issue with the Honda Element, as long as it is not a major repair, it should be relatively easy and cheap to fix, so overall, the Honda Element is pretty good in my book.

Q2: Do Honda Elements Hold Their Value?

Being a very old and discontinued vehicle, it is very unlikely that the Honda Element will hold its value.

In fact, given the depreciation rate of 20%, you should see that the Honda Element will lose its value and drop in price significantly.

If you were looking for a valuable car that can hold its value, then, unfortunately, the Honda Element is not for you.

Q3: How Many Honda Elements Have Been Sold?

From its launch year in 2003 to the last year, it was available to the market in 2011.

The Honda Element was able to sell at least 211,472 models, which is not a lot when you compare it to other lineups of the company.

That being said, it is still a very respectable statistic that should show the appreciation the people have for the Honda Element.

Q4: Which Honda Element Engine Is The Most Reliable?

All models of the Honda Element are fitted with the same 2.4 L 4 Cylinder engine that has seen various upgrades over the course of the model.

While they are essentially the same engines, I would recommend that you opt for the recent models if you are looking for a good and reliable engine, as they have seen the most improvements and upgrades.

Q5: Is Honda Element Expensive To Maintain?

When you compare it to the other vehicles that are similar to it, the Honda Element is relatively cheaper and less expensive to maintain, costing less than $500 per year.

If all goes well and you do not need a major repair, then you should have yourself a car that is extremely cheap to maintain.

Conclusion

Even though it was off to a rocky start, the Honda Element was able to improve a lot about itself over the years.

And despite suffering from a lot of recalls, it was able to amass a good reputation for itself but had the downside of having people ask for the best and worst years for Honda Element.

With the help of this article, you should have no issues determining this now and should be able to find yourself the best Honda Element with little to no effort and also be able to flawlessly tackle the major issues that come with it.

References:
https://www.autoblog.com/2021/05/25/used-honda-element-listing/
https://www.insidehook.com/article/vehicles/honda-element-discounted-too-soon
https://www.autos.com/car-buying/8-honda-element-problems-every-buyer-needs-to-be-aware-of

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

Read my advice on what year of Nissan Rogue you should not purchase

What Are The Best & Worst Years For The Nissan Rogue? [My Honest Review]

ford fusion model reviews

What Are The Best & Worst Years For The Ford Fusion? [My Honest Review]