The Honda Element wheelchair van retains its unique styling for 2007 while introducing a new trim level that departs slightly from its overall “active lifestyle,” Generation-Y motif. The new SC is a carpeted, urban version of the popular tiny crossover.
Honda introduced the Element in 2003. It still looks fresh and up-to-date and Honda continues to make annual adjustments to keep the model competitive. The addition of a slightly more refined edition and a few other minor tweaks should help the Element find a receptive audience in 2007.
- Unique styling
- SC trim level will appeal to urban drivers
- Honda durability and quality
- Inferior highway ride
- Limited space
2007 Honda Element Overview
The only big news with respect to the Element is that Honda scrapped its one-year experiment with the EX-P model. Instead of maintaining a separate trim level for slightly different paint and exterior options, Honda has opted to add a new “SC” version--which tries to make the Element a little more urban and comfortable.
Honda also upgraded the vehicle’s automatic transmission. The four-speed is gone, replaced by a more flexible five-speed. The manual option is still available for those who prefer that enhanced level of control.
The new package will probably help the Element find a new assortment of fans this year.
Trim Levels and Options
The Element’s trim levels have never been that big of an issue with most buyers. Historically divided into two levels, the differences between the Element variations have been fairly slight. The Element is a no-frills, utilitarian vehicle.
This year, the addition of the SC changes that a bit.
The LX has the basics. Air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, adjustable steering and a CD stereo system are all part of the package. The LX is the only remaining Element that uses the gray vinyl fenders that once graced all Elements.
The EX includes a few upgrades. Aluminum wheels, an improved seven-speaker stereo system and a passenger side armrest are provided. Additionally, the EX comes with fenders and lower body cladding painted to match the rest of the body.
The new SC includes bigger wheels, a tighter suspension, carpeting instead of the usual urethane floor and a stereo upgrade. While the Element has long been a vehicle for the “outdoorsy” set, the SC is trying to make it a functional option for those who don’t plan on mountain climbing, kayaking or hiking adventures.
The EX and LX are both available in all-wheel drive. The SC is a front-wheel drive only vehicle.
Slowly, but surely Honda Element handicap vans are evolving. The basic body design is the same as it has been for several years, but slight tweaks are making it a little less jarring. It still has the pillar-less, center-opening side doors, the cube-like body with a short box of a nose and the cabin still sets exceptionally high.
Honda has softened the look with slight changes to the structure over time and with the transition away from the gray vinyl fenders and gray lower body under-cladding that were trademark aspects of the original Element. Now, only the base level LX makes use of these. The other vehicles either do away with them in favor of traditional paint or, at the very least, treat the composite materials with a hue to match the crossover’s paint job.
The interior is Spartan. The Element wheelchair van only seats four and the passenger seats are easily removable. The SC, as mentioned, has carpeting. The other versions have a urethane floor for easy clean up. The focus has always been on function instead of opinion and that hasn’t changed with the 2007 edition.
All Elements use the same 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. Buyers have a choice between a five-speed manual transmission and a five-speed automatic.
Driving the 2007 Element Handicap Van
Those interested in a quiet and smooth highway experience will not buy an Element. As a wheelchair van it doesn’t do a good job of muffling road noise and the high profile of the cabin attracts a great deal of wind noise. Meanwhile, the fairly response suspension makes sure you fee uneven surfaces.
Under other conditions, the Element handicap van is fun to drive. The four-cylinder engine never leaves one feeling underpowered. The small vehicle is nimble and responsive.
The 2007 Element Wheelchair Van
The Element, surprisingly, makes a great minivan option for the right driver. Who is the right driver? Someone who doesn’t need a great deal of cargo space and who doesn’t plan to transport a number of other people within the vehicle. Automatic doors are not possible, so it’s an option limited to wheelchair users who have the necessary strength and dexterity to manage the doors or those who will travel with assistance.
The Element works as a wheelchair van because of its unique design features. The doors can splay open to provide a great deal of space for entry and exit of the wheelchair. The high profile cabin offers a great deal of vertical space. The spacious cargo hold (with passenger seats removed) provides the necessary horizontal space.
The conversion generally consists of lowering the floor of the Element, adding an auto kneel system to improve accessibility, using a spring-assisted wheelchair ramp and then taking care of any necessary additional interior modifications.
The result is a fun-to-drive, small footprint wheelchair van that will stand out in a crowd.
The Element uses curtain-styled airbags designed with head protection in mind for front and rear passengers. They also make use of rollover sensors. Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist is standard and a tire pressure monitoring system is available. Antilock brakes are standard. The Element received good marks from the NHTSA and IIHS in collision testing and hasn’t been involved in any critical recalls as of the time of this review’s writing.