8 Best & Worst Honda ELEMENT Years (We Checked)

The Honda Element, produced from 2003 to 2011, has gained a loyal following for its distinctive design and practical features. As potential buyers may wonder which model years perform best, this article delves into a comparison of the Element’s history.

Some years stand out as exceptional, while others may have more occasional issues. By examining common complaints and improvements made over time, the article aims to provide guidance on choosing the right Honda Element for individual needs.

The Best Year for Honda Element

She noticed that the 2007 Honda Element was highly recommended among enthusiasts.

That year, Honda introduced the seat-mounted seatbelts, making it a convenient feature for many drivers. Additionally, the 2007 model came with standard side airbags and stability control, providing an extra layer of safety.

Another factor that contributed to the 2007 Honda Element’s popularity was the performance upgrade.

The vehicle received an additional 6 horsepower, allowing for better acceleration and handling. During this time, Honda also replaced the 4-speed automatic transmission with a more modern 5-speed, promoting smoother shifting and added efficiency.

The exterior was attractive to many owners, especially those who appreciated the unique boxy design.

Combined with the flexible and spacious interior, the 2007 Honda Element was favored by active outdoor enthusiasts who often required additional storage and space for their gear.

Overall, the 2007 Honda Element stood out as one of the best due to its enhanced safety features, improved performance, and convenience.

The 2nd Best Year

The 2011 Honda Element comes just behind the popular and highly recommended 2007 model.

This 2nd best year has a blend of useful features, improved design, and reliability that many drivers appreciate. The 2011 model introduced more subtle refinements to the vehicle’s overall functionality, making it an attractive option for a variety of drivers.

In 2011, Honda further enhanced the Element’s safety features by making stability control, side airbags, and front-seat-mounted seatbelts standard across all trims.

These features not only ensured a safer driving experience but also contributed to its positive reputation in terms of reliability and longevity. With proper care and maintenance, the 2011 Honda Element has been known to exceed 260,000 miles.

A highlight of the 2011 Element is its spacious and versatile interior. The vehicle is known for its foldable rear seats and easily cleanable surfaces, making it an ideal choice for outdoor adventurers and pet owners alike.

Additionally, the 2011 model continued to offer the practicality and durability of its unpainted panels, which remain a distinctive feature of the earlier-year Honda Elements.

Lastly, the 2011 Honda Element provides a comfortable and smooth driving experience, thanks to its 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive option. This combination offers a balanced blend of power and efficiency that many drivers find appealing for daily commutes and weekend road trips.

To sum it up, the 2011 Honda Element stands out as the 2nd best year for this model due to its safety features, interior versatility, and reliable performance. Its unique characteristics cater to a wide range of drivers who prioritize safety, durability, and adaptability in a vehicle.

Other Good Years

While the Honda Element has had a range of good years, some model years particularly stand out in terms of reliability, features, and improvements.

Let’s dive into a few of these noteworthy years:

  • 2005 Honda Element: Although the 2007 model may be the first one to be particularly recommended, the 2005 version has its own merits. The 2005 Element has proven to be reliable and long-lasting, with properly maintained vehicles reaching 260,000+ miles.
  • 2010 Honda Element: As one of the last production years before the Honda Element was discontinued in 2011, the 2010 model benefitted from nearly a decade of tweaks and upgrades. The 2010 Element featured a more refined design with minor exterior and interior updates, as well as improvements in handling and suspension for a smoother ride.

These are just a few examples of good years for the Honda Element. Each model year had its own unique features and improvements, which contributed to the Honda Element’s reputation as a reliable and practical choice for active outdoor enthusiasts.

The Worst Year for Honda Element

It turns out that the 2003 Honda Element is often considered the least desirable due to a relatively higher number of complaints and issues reported by owners. Despite the many fine attributes of this year’s model, several factors contributed to it receiving less than stellar reviews.

One concerning aspect of the 2003 Element was the issue of transmission failure which was reported more frequently than in later years. Fortunately, Honda took action and addressed this problem in subsequent models, demonstrating their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Additionally, the 2003 version had generally more complaints relating to interior and exterior accessories, such as door lock malfunctions and window problems. These issues were-although annoying- not necessarily deal-breakers for many owners.

In terms of performance, the 2003 Honda Element had an adequate engine but subsequent models made improvements that led to a smoother, more fuel-efficient ride. This, along with other enhancements in later years, has contributed to the perception of the 2003 Element lagging behind its successors.

Given these factors, it’s not surprising that the 2003 model year is considered less ideal. However, it’s essential to remember that every car has its issues, and the Honda Element still remains a popular and versatile vehicle in the automobile market.

Other Bad Years

  • 2004: The 2004 Honda Element had some reported issues with the front suspension and brakes. Drivers noted that the front struts needed replacement earlier than expected, and some experienced brake problems such as a pulsating pedal. However, it’s worth considering that these issues could be due to normal wear and tear or isolated incidents.
  • 2006: The 2006 model year saw some air conditioning concerns among Element owners. Some mentioned that the air conditioner would stop working or not blow cold air. This could be attributed to a variety of factors such as component wear or even climate conditions, so it’s essential not to jump to conclusions.
  • 2008: For the 2008 Honda Element, a few drivers encountered transmission issues. They experienced difficulties with gear shifting or sluggish acceleration. While this might be a concern for some, it’s important to remember that these cases might be isolated or due to routine wear on the transmission components.

Remember that these issues should be taken with a grain of salt, as they may not be reflective of all Honda Element models from those years. It’s always best to thoroughly inspect and research any used vehicle before making a purchase.

Common Problems to Look for in a Honda Element

We have a separate article listing all problems with Honda Element.

Honda Elements are known for their reliability, with a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, and ranking 14th out of 26 for compact SUVs. However, they’re not without their issues. Here are some common problems to be aware of when considering a Honda Element.

One common issue with the Honda Element is the ABS/VSA modulator, which can fail and require replacement. This might be an expensive repair, with part costs around $1,300 and labor around $350. Keep in mind that Honda might not cover the replacement if the warranty period has expired.

Another frequent concern with Honda Elements is that owners reported making slightly more trips to the repair shop compared to other cars. While these trips may be more common, the problems encountered are usually less severe. The average annual repair cost for a Honda Element is $491, which means it has lower than average ownership costs.

When looking at specific model years, the 2006 Honda Element has 10 reported problems, 2007 has 6 reported problems, and the 2008 model has 8 reported problems. As you can see, no model year is problem-free, but some years may be more reliable than others.

In summary, Honda Elements are generally reliable vehicles, but potential buyers should be aware of some common problems, such as the ABS/VSA modulator and slightly higher trips to the repair shop. Keep these potential issues in mind when considering which model year of Honda Element is right for you.


Back to overviews: Best & Worst Years Per Honda Model.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.