During its nine-year production run, the Honda Element was renowned for being one of the most versatile compact crossover SUVs on the market. With available all-wheel drive and a flexible interior layout, the Element was universally recognized as the ultimate adventure vehicle for young adults. The Element was discontinued after the 2011 model year, and enthusiasts have long been clamoring for its return. While Honda has not released any information regarding the development of a new Element, the rumor mill is certainly heating up. If the Element were to return, here are the top five features drivers should hope for.
Redesigned Exterior with Classic Boxy Shape
Though the Element’s boxy styling can only be described as “beauty in the eye of the beholder,” it’s what makes the Element unique. Its quirky styling is one of the many reasons the Element has developed a cult following of sorts. Without a doubt, the Element’s classic boxy shape should remain a staple of any future design.
However, reducing the amount of plastic body cladding would certainly be welcomed. Perhaps they could use more body-color trim in its place, or cladding that flows better with the overall design. The previous generations outdated halogen headlights and incandescent taillamps should also be upgraded with more modern and attractive LED units.
Upgraded Interior with Infotainment System
The overall flexible layout of the interior is one of the most unique and appealing aspects of the Honda Element. The rear doors in the last generation model would open a full 90 degrees to make loading large gear easier. The rear seats would also fold flat against the sidewalls to open up even more cargo space. That versatility in any future Element will be key and a large selling point to the type of buyer Honda is trying to attract. More rugged interior materials and washable, rubberized flooring similar to the new Bronco would certainly aid the Element’s outdoor adventure persona.
However, the previous generation’s archaic radio would certainly need to be updated with a modern infotainment system. Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are extremely desirable features for millennial SUV buyers today.
Upgraded Engine with More Horsepower
The previous Honda Element’s 2.4L four-cylinder engine certainly left a lot to be desired when you put the pedal to the metal. No, we’re not suggesting the Element should aspire to be any sort of performance SUV, but a significant uptick from the 166 horsepower in the previous model should be a priority.
The turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder found in the Honda CR-V would certainly be a good option. With 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, the Element would certainly be quick enough to move out of its own way while still maintaining excellent fuel efficiency. The CR-V with the 1.5L engine is rated at 28-mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
Expanded Second-Row Seating
As versatile as the Element’s interior layout is for cargo, camping, and gear, accommodating rear passengers was never a strong suit of the Element. That definitely needs to be addressed in a new generation model, and Honda should make it a priority to expand the Element’s second-row seating.
The easiest way to do this would be to make the new Element larger with a longer overall length and wheelbase. But the Element is known for being compact in size, so designers will have to be careful not to change its overall nature. Perhaps Honda could offer a sliding rear seat that could provide rear passengers with additional legroom when maximum cargo volume isn’t needed.
New Automatic Driver Safety Features
The last Honda Element rolled off the assembly line long before new automatic safety features had become commonplace in the automotive industry. Honda Sensing would certainly be paramount in a new Element to ensure that drivers feel safer and more confident behind the wheel.
This suite of safety and driver assist technologies include forward-collision warning, road departure mitigation, traffic sign recognition, collision mitigation braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Other Honda Sensing features such as Honda Lanewatch, cross traffic monitor and a blind spot information system would also be welcome additions to a future Honda Element.
Pricing and Release Date
The 2021 Honda Element is purely conjecture at this point. Though enthusiasts and SUV buyers would certainly welcome its return, Honda has not confirmed or even hinted at plans of its development. This article will be updated with new information about a future Element once more is known.