The Honda Element is a sporty crossover SUV that one can also convert into a small wheelchair van. Honda primarily markets the Element to a younger demographic and the vehicle is designed with an active lifestyle in mind. Element ads feature young people unloading kayaks from an optional roof rack, wandering down country roads in search of nature’s best experiences and similar scenes of outdoor activity.
Honda Element wheelchair vans features a very unique shape and design. Instead of embracing swooping lines and evoking a sense of aerodynamic form, it offers a cube-like cabin area with a small, jutting front end. Its high-profile design always attracts attention and is both one of its biggest selling points and a reason why many won’t consider its purchase.
Most Element handicapped buyers make their purchases based on a combination of design and Honda’s no-nonsense focus on function over luxury. Features like waterproofed seats and easy-to-clean urethane floors are just what buyers of the Element want. They’re interested in its ability to handle their needs. As a result, safety issues are rarely on the top of anyone’s list.
That would be a mistake if the Element were particularly prone to accidents or poor safety performance. Fortunately, it’s an extremely safe little vehicle, as a review of the last several years demonstrates.
A Year-by-Year Evaluation: 2005-2010
The 2005 Element came standard with front airbags and antilock brakes. Side airbags were a recommended option. The Element did extremely well in front-collision crash testing, earning five-star honors from the NHTSA, but did poorly in side-impact tests unless the airbags were in place. The Element was involved in only one recall, and that involved the turn signals and brake lights on an optional tow kit.
The 2006 Element wheelchair van also did well in collision testing thanks to its smartly designed body, three-point manual seatbelts and airbags. By 2007, Honda was also using rollover sensors in the Element to provide an additional layer of safety. A tire pressure monitoring system was also available. By 2008, stability control and traction control came standard with all Elements.
Not surprisingly, the Element has continued its streak of solid safety reviews. Both the 2009 and 2010 editions passed all government and insurance industry crash tests with solid scores and the vehicle’s range of additional safety options made it even more secure.
The high profile design of the Element may make some people wonder about an increased likelihood of rollovers. It would stand to reason that a taller vehicle would have a higher center of gravity, making it more prone to tipping.
Testing indicates that isn’t the case. The Element has a suitably wide stance to provide stability and accident data shows that the Element is no more prone to rollovers than other members of its class are. If you’ve been afraid that the cube styling could pose a risk, you can relax.
Additionally, the Element handles very well. This provides drivers with more opportunity to avoid potential accident situations, improving its overall safety. However, that advantage assumes an appropriate level of driver talent and experience. As we’ll discuss later, the build of the Element, its marketing and driver error can contribute to unnecessary and otherwise avoidable accidents.
The last six years of data should make any Element buyer feel comfortable. It’s an extremely safe vehicle that hasn’t been involved in any critical recalls.
Causes for Concern?
There are some minor causes for concern with respect to Element wheelchair van safety. Drivers of earlier editions will want to be certain that optional side impact airbags were properly installed, for instance.
There’s also the question of how the Element is used. Both in four-wheel drive and front-wheel drive versions, the vehicle is marketed as a vehicle for active lifestyles, a small SUV that will be as comfortable climbing a gravel country road as it is in the city.
That can lead some drivers to make poor decisions due to a sense of overconfidence. The vehicle itself is actually quite safe, but many Elements are involved in accidents due to the driver’s inability to handle difficult road conditions or due to a misplaced sense of invincibility.
Overall, the Honda Element is a safe vehicle. There is no reason to be worried about one’s security when behind the wheel of an Element. Drivers should take care not to “overdo it”, but the Element is more than capable of handling most driving conditions with a high degree of responsiveness and safety.
In fact, one could characterize the Element as surprisingly safe, considering its height and overall size. Taller vehicles tend to be involved in more accidents and smaller vehicles often perform poorly in safety tests. The Honda Element is quite small for its class and it features a high profile design. That makes its safety record even more impressive.