The History Of Honda Element
The Honda Element is a compact crossover SUV based on a modified CR-V platform, manufactured in East Liberty, Ohio and marketed in the United States since 2003.
The Element followed a concept vehicle called Model X, introduced in 2001. The Model X functionality was conceived with a cross-country road trip in mind, combining some features of a pickup truck and a sport utility vehicle. The Model X was first conceived by a core group of young R&D engineers in 1998. They wanted to develop a vehicle that they could use for their activities and conducted informal on-site focus groups at colleges, beaches, campsites and in the mountains.
The 4-seat Element is optimized to carry large loads. The floor is made of textured urethane that is easy to clean; the fabric is tough and stain-resistant; the individual rear seats recline, fold up, and are removable. The rear clamshell tailgate arrangement is large and the vehicle is tall, allowing large loads.
The rear side doors are not suicide doors, despite that they open backwards; Honda refers to the rear doors as rear access panels. The design forgoes B-pillars to create unobstructed access for side loading. In return, the chassis features reinforced joints, strengthened lower side sills, larger cross members, enlarged rocker panels, and five bulkheads per side.
Powering the Element is Honda's 2.4Liter K Engine, an i-VTEC four-cylinder engine producing 166hp (124kW) at 5500rpm and 160ft·lbf (217N·m) of torque at 4500rpm.
The Element is available with front-wheel drive or Honda's optional "Real Time" four-wheel drive system — a hydraulically-actuated system that operates only when front wheel slippage occurs. Four wheel drive was discontinued in Japan with the 2006 model.
- Colors available: Sunset Orange Pearl, Shoreline Mist Metallic, Satin Silver Metallic, Nighthawk Black Pearl, Galapagos Green Metallic, and Eternal Blue Pearl
- The 2003 Element was launched with two trim levels — DX and EX.
- Four-wheel drive models come with a large rear sunroof.
- A service bulletin was release regarding the windshield flange surface being uneven. This bulletin along with the warranty obligated Honda of America to replace the windshield at no cost to the owner.
- The class action Daniels, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. reached final settlement November 16, 2006. It provides for warranty replacement of windshields in 2003 and 2004 model Honda Element for 6 years or 60,000miles.
- Colors available: Fiji Blue Pearl replaced Eternal Blue Pearl from the previous year.
- The LX model was introduced with more standard features. Improvements were made to the front seats as well as the inclusion of an armrest for the passenger's side captain's chair.
- The class action law case Daniels, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. reached final settlement November 16, 2006. It provides for warranty replacement of windshields in 2003 and 2004 model Honda Element for 6 years or 60,000miles.
- Colors available: Same as 2004, plus Cargo Khaki and Rally Red. Shoreline Mist Metallic was eliminated.
- The DX model was eliminated from the model lineup. Side airbags were an available option, and XM satellite radio and MP3 capabilities were added as standard features in the audio system for the EX model. The charcoal gray that was the standard plastic tone was darkened and a navy blue was offered with the Satin Silver Metallic. Wheel covers on the LX were changed to mimic the styled alloy wheels.
- Miles per Gallon: 19 in City, 23 highway, 20 combined
- Colors available: only Rallye Red and Nighthawk Black Pearl carry over with new colors Tango Red Pearl, Tangerine Metallic, Kiwi Metallic, Atomic Blue Metallic, and Alabaster Silver Metallic
- A fully painted version called the EX-P became available (an extra US$500 compared to non-painted counterpart). It comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
Element and Friends - version 1.0
In the spring of 2006, a national advertisement campaign featured freeway billboards directing drivers to tune into an AM station to listen to various Honda Element-themed commercials looped continuously. The commercial would then reveal a final piece to the advertising trifecta to a website that featured video counterparts of the radio commercials. The ads could also be seen on television and would reveal the website address also. The website had been up since November 15, 2005 and featured commercials of candid conversations between the Element and various creatures, including a crab, rabbit, burro, platypus, and an opossum. The commercials were uploaded on to YouTube and have reached over million views combined, with the commercial about the Element meeting the crab being the most popular.
- Rallye Red is retired and replaced with Galaxy Gray Metallic, the rest of the colors remain the same as the 2006 line-up.
- EX-P is retired and painted panels become standard on all EX models. Only the LX has the unfinished body trim.
The 2007 Element received a mild refresh, which included 10hp increase to 166hp, along with a 5-speed automatic transmission, and an Integrated Seat Belt System on the front seats that allows rear seat occupants to exit the vehicle without the need for a front occupant to disconnect his or her seatbelt. Side airbags are also now standard, as well as electronic stability control. The plastic latticework grille was replaced by silver-colored slats, similar in style to the 2005-06 Honda CR-V and 2006-08 Honda Pilot.
- Available in Nighthawk Black Pearl, Root Beer Metallic, Galaxy Grey Metallic, Alabaster Silver Metallic.
A new "urban cruiser" trim level called the SC is offered with a custom bumper and grille, lowered suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. It will also feature upgrades to the original Element such as projector-beam halogen headlights, custom tribal print seat fabric, standard center console and carpet in the seating areas.
Gil the Crab
After a summer break, Honda decided to bring back a portion of the "Element and Friends" ad campaign, but will focus on the crab, who now has a name: Gil. The most popular character from the ads with his "I Pinch!" catch phrase, Gil has a myspace page that will chronicle Gil's trouble with the law. In order to reach a broader marketing trend, in which social networking sites play larger roles in ad campaigns, Gil will maintain a blog, promote an online petition to save his job, and endorse Gil paraphernalia through a website.
All this lead up to the launch of the new commercial dubbed Element TV, which premiered September 28, 2006 and rolled out with the new Honda Element SC that went on sale that same day.
"Gil" the crab's popularity has spawned a game similar to punchbuggy, wherein seeing a Honda Element gives the viewer an opportunity to pinch their companion, exclaiming "I pinch!" like Gil the crab.
Rock Star: Supernova
The Element was one of the official sponsors for a CBS reality show called Rock Star: Supernova. The logo is featured before each episode and during the closing credits.
Element and Friends - version 2.0
In the fall of 2006, the Element and Friends website was re-launched with the introduction of the new Element SC trim. The previous version had the driving game using the Element EX-P (now simply called the EX) in a desert, snow topped mountains, forests, and a beach. They now renamed that area "above ground". A new second option from the main page allows you to select the Element SC to go "underground" in an urbanesque environment featuring a drive-in, central park with a basketball court, a seedy mainstreet, and project housing. The six new SC friends include a rat, mole, hamster, pigeon, roach, and a dog. The drive-in serves as the venue to view the TV spots that feature only the rat, mole, pigeon, and hamster. The format remains the same with new mini-games, but both maps now include a tunnel to venture above or below the surface, through the mountain and building respectively. Changes to the above ground include the removal of the previous TV spots from the website and a link on the beach to Gil's Myspace page.
RPA the company who created the Element and friends website won the "Best in Show" from MIXX Awards on September 29, 2006 for the microsite. They revealed that visitors average 15 minutes on the site.
In mid June 2007 Honda started selling the 2008 Element. The only change from the 2007 Element was the addition of the color Royal Blue Pearl for the SC trim.
For 2009 the Honda Element got a face lift with a navigation option. The front end is similar to that of the second generation Honda Pilot and Honda Ridgeline. Tangerine Metallic was replaced with Citrus Fire Metallic.
The Honda Element has a towing capacity of 680kg, or 1500lbs. A tow-hitch must be added to make use of the towing features. The payload is a low 675lbs, but many owners contend this weight as being more a function of Honda erring on the side of safety.
- In 2003, Honda had the Element featured in EA Sports BIG's SSX 3. It featured in game billboards with the Honda Element logo, as well as the signature car itself parked on the slope with its front and rear doors open to have the snow boarder dart through for extra points.
- In 2004, Element was featured for the first time in Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo series in Gran Turismo 4 as a 2003 model.
- In 2006, Honda and EA teamed up again to have the Element featured in The Sims spin-off, The Urbz.
- In 2006, Honda and Bikemag.com cross-promoted each other in an online dirt bike game called Monster Park Motor Madness.
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