NEW FOR 2008:

Exterior colours: Royal Blue, Galaxy Grey and Tangerine Mist added; Kiwi Green deleted

Having undergone several changes for 2007, the Honda Element adjusts only its colour palette for 2008.

The Element uses a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission. All models base with front-wheel drive, but the EX can be optioned with an all-wheel drive system. Trim lines are the base LX, mid-range EX and sporty SC.

Features on the LX include 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, black composite body panels, intermittent front and rear wipers, full-length urethane flooring, power mirrors, privacy glass, power locks with keyless entry, tilt wheel, cruise control, power front windows, ventilation rear windows, front-seat waterproof fabric, and CD stereo.

The EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colour composite body panels, driver and passenger seatback pockets, vanity mirrors, front map lights, overhead storage compartment, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, front seat armrests, CD/MP3 stereo and waterproof fabric on all seats. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the EX also has a rear-mounted removable tilt sunroof.

The SC adds 18-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, projector-beam halogen headlamps, first- and second-row carpeted floor, and centre console.

The Element is a box on wheels, but it’s extremely useful: the urethane floor on LX and EX can be easily scrubbed clean, and its seat fabric is waterproof and resembles wet-suit material. The rear seats can be folded, or stretched flat to form a lumpy bed; once they’ve been flattened out, they can be flipped up and strapped to the body sides for a flat cargo floor. The configuration of the flip-up seats means the Element is only a four-seater, however.

The Element’s rear doors are hinged at the back, and open to reveal a pillarless expanse that makes it easy to load it up, but the front doors must be opened before the rear doors can be opened. Prior to 2007, the seatbelts were attached to the rear doors and required front-seat passengers to remove them also, but they can now be left on while the back doors are opened. The rear hatch opens clamshell style, which can make it difficult for shorter people to reach across to access cargo.

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