The Element may be the progeny of an unholy union between an ice cream truck and a Honda Civic, but it clearly received the best parts from each parent: Honda engineering meets boxy-but-useful dimensions. The trick interior, accessed via clamshell doors, offers an unobstructed rear-seat view, a full-length bed, or space unheard of this side of a cargo van. The awkward exterior grows on you in a hurry, a refreshing break from a field of increasingly bulbous SUVs. Plus, the Element is pretty close to the Holy Grail of trucklike utility and carlike handling. It drives smoothly and stably, as you'd expect given its Civic-based roots. Add the mobility of all-wheel drive and a tall view of traffic without the need for a footstool to climb into the cabin. The looks are strange, but the overflow of well-thought-out convenience makes the Element easy to love.
Photographed by Ian Dawson