I appreciate the likes of the Element, the Scion xB, the Nissan Cube, and the Kia Soul for their affordable, efficient packaging within small footprints. Unfortunately, the Element is perhaps the worst-driving boxcar of the bunch (not that any of the aforementioned vehicles are sports cars). The steering is slow and much less lively than what you find in most other Honda products. On the highway, the Element gets pushed around by the wind and is inundated with lots of buffeting sounds at about 75 mph with the windows closed tight (are the clamshell doors to blame?). The four-cylinder engine is also noisy.
Speaking of noise, the "Dog Friendly" components in the way back rattle around a lot. That said, the rear crate area has a very nice padded bed for canines that should help them tolerate being stuck safely in the back, rather than unsafely on someone's lap (I'm used to small lapdogs, OK?). Methinks the Dog Friendly package goes too far, though: witness the dog silhouettes on the back-seat covers and the dog-bone icons in the floor mats. But to quote Eric and Joe ... I suppose that the people "who love to accessorize their pooch" will also love these "whimsical" touches.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor