2007 Honda Element SC: Photo Gallery
Single Boxy Vehicle seeks young, educated, professional male
Honda Element SC – Photo Gallery: Honda wanted the original Element SUV to serve young men as a “dorm room on wheels,” but instead found success with a wide range of buyers – young and old, male and female, jocks and nerds. In creating the new 2007 Element SC, Honda has gone back to the drawing board to hone in on its target demographic, and the result focuses more on style and handling and less on functional utility.
Honda Element SC – Target demographic
Unlike regular Elements, the SC is offered only with front-wheel drive because Honda doesn’t think the tech-savvy, 27-year-old male urban dwellers that possess a Bachelor’s Degree and enjoy design, music, and socializing want four driven wheels. Those guys are the target buyers for the Element SC – the actual buyers range from 25 to 35 years of age, are men and women in professional careers or DINK relationships, and like to shop at Target, Urban Outfitters, and Ikea.
Honda Element SC – Added safety for 2007
To our way of thinking, the most important update for the 2007 Honda Element is improved side-impact protection in the form of standard side-curtain airbags and what the company says is a re-engineered side structure. This is important because, though the Element is regarded to be a generally safe vehicle, the NHTSA listed a safety concern regarding the original’s side-impact protection for rear seat occupants. The concern related to how the crash dummy’s head impacted the Element’s rear pillar during side-impact testing. Honda says that the structural modifications and inclusion of standard side-curtain airbags will eliminate that NHTSA concern.
Honda Element SC – More power for 2007
More power and more torque is always a good thing, and the 2007 Honda Element’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers because it’s up 10 horsepower and displays improved mid-range torque over last year. A drive-by-wire throttle quickens response, high-flow intake and exhaust systems let the engine breathe more freely, and a new five-speed automatic manages power better while improving fuel economy. The result is an engine that makes 166 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 161 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm – not mind-bending figures, certainly, but the added verve is palpable.
Honda Element SC – Better fuel economy for 2007
Get a Honda Element 2WD with the automatic, and the EPA fuel economy estimate is 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Choose an Element 4WD with a manual, and the numbers drop to 21 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Yes, the automatic delivers more miles per gallon than the stick, so rowing your own gears is now a matter of saving the $800 premium for the automatic or because you like to be involved in the act of driving. But seriously, if you like to be involved in the act of driving, you’re probably not shopping for a Honda Element.
Honda Element SC – Exterior changes
Looking like a tasteful custom job, with just enough modification to make sure everyone knows it’s special but not so much that only people under the age of 15 might want to be seen in it, the SC adds cool to balance the Element’s cute factor. SC-specific trim includes a unique grille and bumpers; side sills, and side roof garnishes that are all painted the same color as the body; projector beam headlamps and dark chrome taillights; gray 18-inch alloy wheels; and an exclusive color called Root Beer Metallic.
Honda Element SC – Interior changes
Inside, the Honda Element SC receives unique gauge faces with copper-colored backlighting, copper or titanium interior trim, and piano black dash appliqués. The seat and door panel fabric is unique to the Element SC, and includes copper or titanium highlights depending on what interior trim is selected. The most useful addition to the SC’s interior, however, is the giant center storage console that houses an auxiliary input jack for an iPod plus a 12-volt electrical outlet.
Honda Element SC – Suspension changes
Honda says the Element SC’s chassis is “completely re-engineered.” Translated, that means the suspension is 25 percent new. Stiffer and lower than stock, and combined with quicker steering and meatier tires, the Element SC is made for improved handling, if not acceleration. Modifications include a 1.5-inch suspension drop, stouter front and rear stabilizer bars, and a set of shocks and springs that are 30 percent stiffer than stock. The steering is a little faster, and guides 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/55 tires.
Honda Element SC – Comfort
There’s lots of space inside the 2007 Honda Element, even if it only holds four people. Thanks to comfortable seats front and rear, a nicely padded center console lid that is unexpected in a car at this price, plenty of leg room for everyone, and enough headroom to wear that cheesy sombrero you picked up in Tijuana, nobody is going to complain about comfort. Rear passengers might complain about the limited view out, and not just because of your oversized Mexican trinket, but they’ll be comfortable while doing so.
Honda Element SC – Entry and exit
Note that the 2007 Honda Element’s new integrated front seatbelts really help entry into and exit from the rear seat. Before, front seat occupants needed to bother with unclipping and re-fastening their seatbelts every time a third or fourth passenger was added or subtracted. Not anymore, thanks to seatbelts that feed from the front seats.
Honda Element SC – Utility
Like the rest of the SUV, the Honda Element’s interior is functional and stylish. Everything is easy to locate and use, and there’s a ton of storage space – especially with the SC model’s positively gigantic center console. However, the rear seats are a pain to wrestle with when expanding cargo space. Good thing the amount of room behind the rear seats is generous, and easy to load thanks to a cube-shaped opening complete with a small tailgate for pre-game parties.
Honda Element SC – Stiff suspension
That our first test drive of the 2007 Honda Element SC took place in suburban Detroit is irrelevant, because this is not a vehicle designed for canyon carving no matter how much emphasis the company places on the suspension and wheel/tire upgrades. The Element SC is, after all, designed for guys who live in urban areas. Young guys who aren’t worried that the 30-percent stiffer shocks and springs will fuse their lower vertebrae as the Element pounds over frost heaves and potholes. Frost heaves and potholes similar to those that coat suburban Detroit like a festering rash.
Honda Element SC – Urban driving
On real-world roads, especially the winter-ravaged pavement of Detroit, the Honda Element SC felt almost too stiff. On sweeping cloverleaf freeway ramps riddled with frost heaves, it bounced fore and aft on its short wheelbase. By contrast, a quick spin in an Element EX showed that the standard suspension is much more compliant over the rough stuff. The standard setup still gives the driver a feel for what’s happening at the road surface, but softens the blows better, and is the better way to go for most people most of the time.
Honda Element SC – Autocross driving
Screaming around an autocross with the traction and stability control systems shut down, the front wheels spinning out of every turn, the Honda Element SC proved its mettle. But as car-like as the Element might be, it’s got a higher center of gravity than a typical car. That means it leans more, which means the driver gets tossed around more, which means the lack of side bolsters on the seats is more noticeable because you feel like you’re gonna tumble right out of the Element’s clamshell doors.
Honda Element SC – Performance
Any 2007 Honda Element feels spunkier thanks to the powertrain improvements. If you’re of a juvenile mindset, it’s easy to spin the wheels in first gear, and you can squawk ‘em in second. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is refined, emits a pleasing growl at higher revs, and doesn’t complain when maximizing power at the upper end. The clutch and five-speed manual gearbox are wonderful pieces of engineering, and the five-speed automatic showed an improvement over the old four-speed transmission. Our pick is the stick despite the penalty at the pump.
Honda Element SC – Smart and emotional
Few vehicles on the market today appeal to the logical left side of a human brain and the creative right side as equally as the 2007 Honda Element SC. This car is plain smart, but it’s emotional, too. High on style and functionality, the Element is the kind of vehicle that becomes integral to daily life, a member of the family, like a pet with a nickname. Safe, efficient, utilitarian, comfortable, and as cute as a frisky Pug puppy, the Element SC is a terrific do-everything kind of car.
Honda Element SC – Pricing
Look for the Honda Element SC to arrive in showrooms on September 28, starting at $23,290 with a manual transmission and commanding $24,090 with an automatic (including the $595 destination charge).
Photos courtesy of Christian J. Wardlaw and Honda