It was boxy, but good, and was perhaps the only passenger vehicle less aerodynamic than a Volkswagen Microbus. After an eight year run, Honda has announced the end of Element production, citing declining sales as the reason. Originally intended as a lifestyle vehicle for Generation X, the Element never drew the audience that Honda expected; instead, most buyers were north of age 40, and they embraced the Element for both it’s funky styling and its incredible versatility. Or maybe it was the only vehicle on the market that reminded buyers of the old VW bus.
Honda tried several tricks through the years to boost appeal, including introducing an “upscale” EX-P version with fully painted fenders in 2006. In 2007, Honda launched the SC model, an “urban cruiser” aimed specifically at Gen X. The SC had a carpeted interior (a first for the Element), and featured unique colors, a stylized interior, a more aggressive front fascia and a lowered ride height for improved handling (which, for a vehicle like the Element, was truly relative). Even the SC version failed to attract buyers in the quantities that Honda had anticipated, and a 2009 restyle only managed to make the Element uglier.
I may be one of the few who appreciated the Element for what it was, but then again I also have a thing for VW Campers. Sure it was slow, sure it had the aerodynamics of a housing complex and sure it handled like a U-Haul truck, but it was perhaps the most functional vehicle ever produced by a major automaker. You could haul cargo, you could haul passengers, you could carry bikes inside it and you could even sleep in the thing in relative comfort. I’ll admit to almost buying one on two separate occasions, but I could never find the right combination of circumstances and pricing to sign on the dotted line. The Element wasn’t perfect, but it really wasn’t like anything else on the market. I’ll mourn its passing, even if no one else does.