The mid-level 2008 Honda Element EX 4WD combines an expanded list of standard features with Honda's real-time four-wheel-drive system, which automatically engages when it detects slippage to provide extra grip.
Slightly longer (by an inch) and heavier than the standard Element LX, the EX comes with waterproof FXC (for extreme conditions) seat fabric and a 12-volt power outlet, as well as a seven-speaker, 270-watt AM/FM stereo system with a CD player, XM satellite radio, and an MP3 input jack.
It also includes the features found in the entry-level LX, such as air conditioning, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted controls, and power door and tailgate locks. Other features include a standard five-speed manual shifter or optional five-speed automatic, a remote entry system, power side mirrors, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Honda dropped a 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter, double-overhead-cam i-VTEC four-cylinder engine under the hood of the Element LX 4WD. Variable valve timing and other technologies help improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, while still providing 15,000 pounds of towing capacity.
Many of the Element's features, including its roominess, versatility, and suicide (front-opening) rear doors, have proved popular with drivers in the past, and more than likely will do the same for 2008. But drivers also noted that the Element's engine can be noisy, and that it tends to guzzle gas.