Honda Element / Vehicle choice?

I’ve got to buy a third vehicle for my kids. I’m thinking this third vehicle could also be a “bike” vehicle for my gravel, MTB and road events (I do about 12 a year and travel a couple hours to them). I’m looking at perhaps the second least-cool vehicle, a Honda Element. Anyone have one and use it to pack a couple bikes and gear? (Before anyone asks, the other cars are SUVs that we’re trying to keep “clean”)

The element is flipping rad. I bought mine new in 2004 and its still going strong. Not sure if you are putting bike inside or not, but ive had 3 people and three road bikes in it going to a race, havent had more than 2 mtbs in it. I now have a one up rack on the back and took out one rear seat….so much storage room inside. Great vehicle, Goes forever (my friend has over 500k on his).


The Element is a great vehicle for dogs and bikes and outdoor stuff in general. People regularly approach us and ask to buy ours. FWIW, we took both rear seats out on day #1 and never put them back in.

If Honda made a new Element with a hybrid drivetrain and AWD they’d sell like crazy.

Downsides to the Element: Gas mileage is not great. Its a box on wheels and drives and sounds like one. It is under braked and goes through pads (there is a hack using Acura parts but I haven’t done it)

Am sure you have looked, but the Rav4 has surprising amount of rear interior room.


I had an Element and still miss it. I keep my eye out for another good one.

The problem is that they haven’t made them since 2011 and not in good quantity since 2008. Finding a low mileage, one owner, garaged example is a needle in a haystack search. If you find one with lowish miles (under 100k) people are going to ask crazy money for them. They even ask crazy money for clean 125k mile cars. The average one I see for sale seems to have 150-200k miles and has lived a well loved life. And maybe one of those are fine if it’s just an around the town vehicle and not used for thousand mile cross country trips.

Other than that they are a fantastic bike vehicle.

Just kicking around some things here…the Element is based on the CR-V platform…so to the HR-V. Of course the HRV has the advantage of being in production today. If you put the seats down in an HR-V you can slide your bike in ‘as-is’. No wheels coming off.

If you take the wheels off you can leave the back seats up and stow your bike & wheels in the rear. Then you can flip the bottom portion of the back seats up and cram a crap ton of cargo in the middle of the vehicle. And, of course, with some rails on top or a daring seasucker you can easily move around several bikes if your rear-rack game is good.

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Might be the most utilitarian vehicle I’ve ever owned. Miss it greatly. I don’t understand why Honda won’t bring it back


Like many niche vehicles, they had actually targeted it towards the Gen X crowd with the features and utility. Some took it for that, but it actually found a home with many 40 and over adults that liked the styling and didn’t need 4 fully functional doors.

It was the stepchild to the CR-V and got the great reliability. But it had the same anemic engine (barely passable in the CR-V) while giving up the aero function of the CR-V, so it was even worse on the highway in high speed situations.

They sure could do a modern version with all the great improvements seen in the current CR-V (and pending one as well). I just don’t see it happening, unfortunately. Seems when companies take a step into the “wild side” and get burned with lackluster sales (Element, Aztek, Juke, etc.) they are hesitant to head that way in the future.


We’ve been searching for an Element replacement for several years. Honda nailed it for our use and nobody else has replicated it.

Our next vehicle, on order, is a Sienna minivan. It has tons of room, drives well, has hybrid drive train with decent mileage and AWD for winters. Will remove the second and third row seats and build a platform for dog crates and bikes.

The Sienna lacks clearance for anything other than gravel roads, but that’s OK. We’d really like something “cooler” but the minivan is tough to beat for interior space and driveability. The dealer told my wife that more and more people are buying them and taking all the seats out and doing small conversions for camping, hauling gear, dog showing, bike racing and such. The dealers desperately want Toyota to make it so the next generation has a 100% flat floor.

FWIW… I wanted to go with a RAV4 or CRV size vehicle but can’t quite make it work. The extra length of the mini-van and the squared off interior is what made the difference.

Just typing… suspect a lot of us have the same needs and frustrations looking for the right vehicle.

AJ is spot on regarding model years and values and asking prices. Finding a good Element at a decent price has been hard for years. If you do stumble across one just grab it.

Random Extras:

  1. The Element really drives like crap. Its noisy, underpowered and under-braked and the seats aren’t that comfortable either. But it is like a VW microbus, if you have one you don’t care because of the things it does do well :wink:

  2. Seasucker. Have two friends that swear by these. One of them just got an Audi R8. Next spring we’re gonna see how well that rack really sticks…


Well, if you want to be a TRUE cyclist you have to get a Subaru. That way you can throw the bike in the Sub, put the harness on the husky, and just drive down to the trail head.


I just want to second that a minivan is a perfect bike vehicle!! I’m obsessed with my Odyssey :star_struck:

Lots of people buy 3 row SUVs that get worse gas mileage and have a 3rd row that really only works for kids. I can fit 8 adults and a hitch mounted bike rack, or take out the middle seats and stow the rear seats into the floor and have soooo much room.

  • Check and check (2012 Outback for me, 2013 Crosstrek for my wife), but we carry kitties instead of puppies. :stuck_out_tongue: They are pretty much perfect vehicles for Montana year round, and that’s why they are around almost as much as F-150’s in my area.

I am likely to swap to a Forester on my next purchase, because the higher vertical space is a bit nicer, despite losing a bit on the cargo length compared to the OB. I also like the taller seating position as well as the more open ‘greenhouse’ that makes external visibility in the Fozzy better. Can’t really go wrong with anything in the Suby brand, but I am kind of a boxer fan and have appreciated all I have owned.

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If only a bike would fit in a BRZ…


HA, with the seats down in the car, and wheels off the bike… I bet it would fit. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have drooled over the BRZ for years, and the latest remodel sure sounds awesome. I’ve considered the jump from my MX-5 to that, but can’t force myself to take that plunge right now.

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Used to have a Honda Element. Loved it. Miss it. One bad thing is visibility in that thing is absolute crap. Not only looking back but the pillars for the windshield are a problem. Obviously drivable you just have to be a bit more careful.


I just got a 2017 Ford Transit Connect over the summer - I’m largely happy. It’s allowed more ride time for me as I can safely keep bikes on hand and on the ready for any ride that pops up beyond planned rides. The Element was my first choice but as I needed a daily driver (only one car for me at this time) I couldn’t find one with less than 100K miles. I think the Element is really hard to beat and for a third car, I’d probably go with that even over the Transit. The Transit is not an exciting vehicle in any way, but it drives well enough and obviously the selling point is the cargo room - you do need to remove some/all of the second row seating to get bikes in without wheel removal but I can fit up to three bikes, and even my long enduro sled fits in there no issues.


Ya…Sub is the apex bike car. Maybe the priciest option…and possibly a little hackneyed…but still at the top.

But there are ways to make most any car work for the purpose. I see Boxsters with SeaSuckers on them at many races. Maybe not a SmartCar…but where there is a will there is a way with most vehicles.


Yeah, those or a decent hitch rack are totally worthwhile for vehicles with smaller cargo space or people who don’t want them in the car (Are they crazy? :stuck_out_tongue: )

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If I didn’t have a different car with a boxer motor and zero useful interior space, there would be a BRZ (or 86) in the garage. They are ripping good fun. MX-5 works too. Lots of grins per mile.

Transit - The small one (Connect). We really wanted that to work. The size is right for two people and dogs and outdoor toys. But even with windows and comfy front seats, it’s a small contractors truck and good for local stuff but maybe not great on longer drives. No AWD, no hybrid (poor gas mileage from a small motor), small wheels. But like the useable space and the lower end model is in the mid-20K range for price.

Interesting that Ford is targeting our demographic. On their web site it’s happy middle age people with bikes and kayaks doing outdoor stuff. So they have identified the market we are talking about here.

For us… wife is getting the new van and I’m getting the Element. When the Element dies I’ll be having this entire debate again. Need to bookmark this thread and zombie it in a few years!


Element is cool.

Smarter to just get a mini van.


The brilliance of the Element is the flat bottom interior and durable plastic finish. A minivan to me seems too lumpy inside. In my E, I would take the from wheel off my road bike and roll it in backwards. I’d have one rear seat flipped up leaving seating for three. With my mountain bike, I could just push the dropper post down and put the whole bike in there standing. It would be easy to roll two bikes in there.

No carpet to worry about after a muddy mountain bike ride. You can just sweep it out. (It’s a myth that you can clean out an Element with a garden hose. Sure you could do it but then you’d have water in every crevice rusting the car from the inside out.)

I also like having the bikes inside. You can stop at store or restaurant after a ride and not worry about theft so much. The bikes are also pretty well hidden in the back. I had an old large black bed sheet that I’d throw over my bikes and stuff. You could look through the windows from the outside and just see blackness.

I have been eyeing the 4Runner. They are much more common and easy to find. It seems that if you can get one that doesn’t have the 3rd row seat you’ll have a lot of top to bottom room for bikes.

These images of “bikes” inside Elements crack me up: