Text and Photography by Sammy Chan
2003 Honda Element Price List:
Element $23,900 (M) $24,900 (A)
Rugged, basic, accommodating and fun: the all-new 2003 Honda Element is designed to delivers maximum utility in an affordable package for Canadians with active lifestyles.
The 2003 Honda Element was produced to accommodates a new generation of vehicle buyers who seeks room for bulky items such aslike largebig sports gear but doesn'tdon’t want a pickup truck, large SUV or minivan. Wrapped in a compact and durable exterior, Element devours cargo like a champ while offering Honda’s legendary levels of refinement, value, economy and performance. Element’s packaging makes it "road trip capable," campground friendly and adaptable to people on the move - whether it’s from apartment to the lakeocean, downtown to the mountains to dorm, or somewhere in-between.
The Honda Element breaks new ground with its:
Expansive Interior Cargo Area - It adapts, accommodate anything from mountain bikes and coolers toor hockey sticks, skis and snowboards or anything else requiring something with more room than a car. The cargo area can transform to accept items up to 3 meters (10 feetft) in length.
Versatile Seating - The removable flip-up rear seats can fold down into a bed, or fold up and out of the way to the side, or can be removed altogether. There are more than 64 possible (64+ seating arrangements).
Side Cargo Doors - Open the doors and gear easily loads from the vehicle's vehicle’s sides, plus it they creates a unique hangout zone when parked as a "base camp.".
Tough, Durable Interior - The hard, flat, scratch- resistant, urethane-coated utility floor quickly wipes down. An Element-specific and the seat fabric is waterproof.
Functional Rear Tailgate - The lower tailgate door folds down to create a place to sit (up to 200 kg) and makes loading easy while the upper section provides shade and protection from the weather.
Performance - Honda’s 160-horsepower 2.4-litreliter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine delivers generous acceleration, available Real Time 4WD™ provides addedadds traction, and large wheels and tires keep Element firmly planted in a wide variety of conditions.
The Element is available in two trims:
Element: Available in 2WD configuration is with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The base model featuresFeaturing a limited list of features, and is this trim is ideally suited for customizing.
Element Y Package: Fully loaded, the 2WD Y Package can be ordered with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Optional is Honda’s Real Time™ 4WD mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission and featuring a removable rear skylight.
The Element is anticipated expected to meet the highest collision safety standards achievable for front and side impacts. It uses the latest engine technology to achieve low emissions and good fuel economy. Unlike anything else on the market, the 2003 Honda Element defines its own spot in the entry-level corner of the light truck segment.
Development began in 1998 by a group of young designers and engineers from Honda’s U.S. research and design group, Honda R&D Americas. The team set out to create a vehicle that offers the utility that young, active people seek but can’t quite get in a pickup truck, a large SUV or other vehicle.
Research consisted of formal and informal studies at college campuses, beaches, state parks, mountain bike meccas, campgrounds and extreme sports events. They found the target Element buyer wants SUV-size interior proportions, a flat pickup truck style floor, flexible seating, a rugged exterior, lots of power, and good fuel economy – all at an affordable price. The vehicles they drove always delivered in one or some of those areas, but none provided a well-rounded package with all of these features.
The American-based Honda design team went to work and created the "Model X" concept vehicle that debuted at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and was highlighted at a handful of North American auto shows, includingappeared in at the 2001 Salon International de l’Auto de Montréal. The popular concept vehicle became the platform for Element, with the final production version delivering closely on the Model X concept.
Public interest for the Model X concept reached high levels on the auto show circuit. It earned a fast track into production for the 2003 model year, just in time to greet a rapidly emerging generation of new vehicle buyers between the ages of 22 and 32 – the upper spectrum of what is commonly known as Generation Y and the lower spectrum of Generation X.
Honda Canada anticipates the 20- to 34-year-old demographic is expected to account for one- quarter of the vehicle buying public by 2006. Yet whileAlthough Element is designed with "Gen X" and "Gen Y" in mind and is based on the generation’s unique vehicle wants, it’s expected to appeal more to a frame-of-mind (active, youthful) rather than an specific age group.
A Versatile and durable, worry-free interior combines with a utility floor, vast cargo zone, refined feel and modern trim
Much of the 2003 Honda Element’s functionality comes from an interior designed to support a dynamic and active lifestyle by combining the best traits of a pickup truck, SUV and cargo van. Its wide-open interior space, unique door openings and the overall shape fit a wide variety of sports equipment and large items. Meanwhile, durable seat and floor materials facilitate worry-free operation with no carpeting or delicate fabrics to protect from mud, water or sand, nor the loading of equipment. PlusIn addition, the interior is designed to cleans up easily and quickly.fast.
The interior of the 2003 Honda Element serves four distinct missions:
Everyday driving and people- hauling comfort
Element is available in two trim levels - the base model ‘Element’ designed for the purchaser buyers to who configure the vehicles exactly to suit their tastes,; and the more fully featured ‘Element Y Package.’. The base model Element, features an AM/FM CD stereo, air conditioning and power mirrors, windows and locks. The Y Package provides popular features, including a premium 270-watt audio unit with subwoofer and inputs for digital audio sources likesuch as an external MP3 player, premium seat fabric and a metallic- accented highly durable floor covering.
The base model Element features the following standard interior equipment:
Power front windows with driver auto up and down
Power door locks
Power heated mirrors
AM/FM CD stereo with 4 speakers
Tilt steering wheel
Manually adjustable front seats with driver’s height adjustment
"Memory" fold forward feature on passenger seat
Removable flip up rear seats
Waterproof FXC™ front seat fabric
Vinyl rear seat fabric
Colour- matched interior/exterior
Front 12V accessory outlets
LATCH system and flush mounted tether anchors for child seats
The Element Y Package adds:
6-speaker 270-w Watt AM/FM/CD/AUX audio unit with plus subwoofer
Overhead storage bin
Rear 12V accessory outlets
Seat back net loops on driver’s seat
Water repellent FXC™ rear seat fabric for extreme conditions
The Element Y Package with Real Time 4WD™ further adds:
4-speed automatic transmission
Rear roof-mounted skylight
Modern Instrument Panel with Retro-style Gauges
Heating and air conditioning controls feature large knobs and are glove friendly. The two-tone instrument panel uses blue, silver or green accents coordinated appropriately with the interior colour. The gearshift lever is mounted on the centre of the instrument panel on both automatic and manual transmission models, saving space and creating a sporty feel with quick reaches between the steering wheel and gear shifter.
The Element Y Package trims adds a driver seat armrest, net pockets on passenger seat and waterproof rear seat fabric (instead of vinyl fabric). The removable flip-up rear seats feature a 50/50 split and recline independently. To facilitate cargo, the seats fold up and latch to the side with carabiner hooks or can be removed completely. All seats fold down to create a "lounge," which is just right for snoozing. The space between the front seats allows for a "walk- through" between front and rear seats when the vehicle is stationary.
Urethane-coated Coated Utility Floor
Equipment Hauling Targets
10- ft. Surfboard – 3048 x 610 x 69 mm (120.0 x 24.0 x 2.7 in.)
The high-output audio system in the Element with Y Package delivers dynamic, rich, loud sound and features: AM/FM tuner, CD player, auxiliary audio input for MP3 or digital devices, seven speakers including one Dynamic Linear Phase (DLP) 6.5-inch subwoofer located in the bottom centre of the instrument panel, all powered by a 270-wWatt amplifier. The DLP technology allows the 6.5-inch subwoofer to produce sound similar to a 10-inch subwoofer. Subwoofer response can be adjusted. For By comparison,s sake, the bass is eight- times louder than a Civic Si coupe audio system (which does not have a subwoofer).
The base Element features a standard AM/FM stereo with CD player, 4 speakers and a roof-mounted antenna. An accessory multi-media player is available from dealerships capable of playing Windows™ format and MP3 music files.
Plenty of Storage
Eight-disc CD changer (Y Package only)
Hard-body truck styling with composite body panels provides rugged and functional exterior.
In its early concept stages, a lifeguard station formed the design inspiration for the Element’s general shape with upright angles and the arched roof follows the curve of a surfboard. The design evolved into a rugged two-box SUV shape with traits developed to support a young, active lifestyle. With its wide opening side cargo doors, rear tailgate, large interior and durable body panels, Element provides the right features to operate as a base camp and a general hang-out spot. Open the doors and the Element becomes multi-functional. Lean stuff against the sides. Sit on the tailgate or "sidegate." Stand out of the rear skylight when stationary. The options are much greater than a typical SUV, truck or car – or anything currently on the market.
Key Body Design Features:
Side cargo doors
Composite body panels
Removable rear skylight (Real Time 4WD models)
Rear ventilation windows
Roof- mounted antenna
Side Cargo Doors
The cargo doors are designed for maximum utility and easy load-in with a best-in-class opening size of 1410 mm (55.5" in). Because the Element does not have a B-pillar (the pillar mounted vertically between the top and the bottom of the vehicle in the middle) loading boxes and other bulky items is much easier than a traditional four- or two-door design. From a safety standpoint, the deletion of the B-pillar is compensated for with a reinforced vertical beam in the structure of the rear door, reinforced lower side sills, and floor and roof cross members. When shut, the base of the doors connects tightly to the body side sill with a hook and catcher system. Overall, the design is anticipated to achieve a five-star side-impact rating, the highest possible from the U.S. Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The side cargo doors feature an "interlock" safety lever to insure that the front doors always open first. Rear passengers can reach forward and open the front door to exit the vehicle if nobody is in the passenger seat. All seat belts have been specially constructed into the design of the vehicle to not interfere with door functionality. The front doors offer 3-position opening, and can reach an opening angle of up to 78 degrees. The rear doors use a forged steel gooseneck hinge and can open at an angle up to 90 degrees.
Composite Body Panels
panels are useful for leaning equipment and gear against the vehicle sides. The fuel access door, located on the driver side rear fender, opens manually like a traditional truck instead of by a remote lever – a unique feature among all current Honda automotive products.
Removable Rear Skylight with Tilt
Element incorporates extensive noise absorption materials and vibration control technology to provide a quiet, refined driving experience. At 100 km/h, Element registers a 65-decibel reading, similar or better than other vehicles in this price range. Road noise due to rough pavement is also minimized.
Xenoy Rear Bumpers
Composite Body Panel Colours
Element’s engine provides a balance of high power and torque, good fuel economy and low emissions.
The Element powertrain uses Honda’s latest engine, transmission and emissions technology to achieve quick acceleration, good fuel economy and meet strict LEV II - LEV emission criteria. Two transmission choices are available: a standard 5-speed manual and an available 4-speed automatic. Honda’s Real Time 4WD™ system is available on Y Package models and comes equipped with a 4-speed automatic.
Aluminum engine block and head
Window port cylinder head
DOHC 16-valve i-VTEC valvetrain
160- horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
161- lb.-ft torque @ 4,500 rpm
Standard 5-speed manual transmission
Available 4-speed automatic transmission
Designed to meet U.S. LEV II - LEV emissions regulations
Programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI)
Internal balancer shaft (integrated with oil pump)
Serpentine drive belt system with auto tensioner
Liquid filled engine mounts (rear only)
Silent cam chain drive
2.4-Litre i-VTEC 4-Cylinder Engine
i-VTEC = VTEC + VTC
Another benefit of VTC is the internal exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) effect created by the valve overlap. Internal EGR reduces pumping losses and eliminates the need for a separate EGR valve. The i-VTEC cylinder head is made of pressure cast aluminum alloy. Its four-valve per cylinder design has double overhead camshafts activated by a silent chain drive to ensure extremely precise control of the cam phasing. The VTEC system is comprised of the following primary components: VTEC rocker arm, VTEC spool valve and computer controlled VTEC hydraulic actuator. Similarly, the VTC system is comprised of the following primary components: computer-controlled VTC hydraulic actuator, VTC spool valve and cam sensor. Depending on conditions, VTC can vary the phasing of the intake cam (change its position relative to the crankshaft) by +/- 25 degrees in infinite increments. VTC activation is accomplished hydraulically via a spool valve that sends high-pressure oil to passages in an actuator located in the cam’s drive sprocket.
Range of i-VTEC Operations:
the distance from the combustion chamber to the catalytic converter can be reduced. This minimizes the time before the catalytic converter reaches operating temperature. The catalytic converter applies two ceramic bricks of 900 cell and 600 cell construction. The muffler is aesthetically hidden from view, and the tailpipe exit has a clean, integrated look.
Five-speed Manual Transmission
Four-speed Automatic Transmission
The four-speed automatic transmission delivers exceptional smoothness, economy and intuitive shift points. Features include Honda’s lockup torque converter for efficiency and power and Grade Logic Control for less gear hunting. The automatic’s gearshift lever is a console-style unit mounted on the centre of the instrument panel within quick reach of the driver.
Real Time 4WD™
Available on the Element Y Package and paired with the 4-speed automatic transmission, the Real Time 4WD system delivers added traction in snow, rain, mud and sand -– especially on steep slopes and rutted dirt roads. Real Time 4WD sends power to the rear wheels when the primary front-wheel-drive system experiences slippage. The system consists of a power take off (PTO) from the transmission that distributes torque to a propeller shaft that runs to the rear differential. The rear differential contains two internal hydraulic pumps – one driven by the propeller shaft and one driven by the rear wheels -– that circulate fluid through an internal multi-plate clutch system. When wheel slippage occurs, the flow rate is greater from the propeller shaft pump and forces the clutches to progressively engage, sending up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels in slick conditions and 30 percent in dry conditions. The system operates automatically and only when needed, requiring no intervention on behalf of the driver to activate. It offers significant fuel efficiency and packaging advantages over conventional four-wheel-drive systems that use bulky, heavy running gear and rarely see heavy-duty off-road use.
Rugged chassis with excellent handling dynamics and low floor.
Structurally similar to the 2003 CR-V, Element is slightly bigger in every exterior dimension except for length. Main chassis differences include 16-inch wheels (vs. 15-inch wheels for the CR-V), a slightly wider track, a compact rear damper, a lower floor height and structural adjustments to allow for no B-pillar construction. While the design and shape of components appear similar, chassis dimensions have been adjusted to provide a wider track and lower floor.
Key Chassis Features
2576 mm (101.4") wheelbase
Front track 1577 mm (62.1")
Rear track 1582 mm (62.3")
Front toe-control link independent strut suspension
Rear compact double wishbone suspension
Four-wheel disc brakes standard
Anti-lock braking system (Y Package)
Electronic brake distribution (Y Package)
Power steering with internal dampening valves
Front and rear stabilizer bars
Firm damper and spring tuning for low body roll
Sporty, quick ratio, low delay steering
Tight turning radius
The toe-control link independent strut front suspension delivers quick, responsive handling by maximizing each front tire’s contact patch with the road throughout the range of suspension travel. Since Element has a wide track compared to other products in the Global Compact Platform family, control arms and related components are larger. The rear compact double wishbone suspension provides a smooth ride with crisp and predictable handling by letting the tires move slightly rearward over bumps. A compact rear damper and spring assembly is used to facilitate the low, flat floor. Front and rear stabilizer bars are used to enhance cornering ability.
Element tracks straight using the latest steering box technology from Honda. Similar to systems used on larger vehicles, the Element’s power steering features internal dampening valves to reduce kickback over potholes, bumps or while off the beaten path. It also provides a smooth and natural "on-centre" feel when the vehicle is on slightly crowned highway stretches, adding to long distance driving comfort. Another benefit of this system is the high level of responsiveness, making for a sporty feel with a short delay time between driver steering input and response. Element has an ultra tight turning radius of 10.4 m (34.2 ft).
Wheels and Tires
The 2003 Element rides on 16 x 16.5-inch, five-bolt pattern wheels and P215/70R16 99S tires. Silver-painted steel wheels with a black centre cap are standard on base models. Silver alloy wheels are standard equipment on Y Package models. The tire package provides a great balance of all weather performance, fuel economy, comfort, noise and wear characteristics.
High levels of safety with smart-linked body structure and advanced technology.
Inside, the supplemental restraint system features standard dual-stage driver’s and passenger’s front airbags and the LATCH system for installing child seats. Front seat belts feature dual pre-tensioners that pull the lap and shoulder belts toward the occupant in the event of a collision.