It’s a shame the Honda Element is gone. It was a unique, utilitarian vehicle that added a lot of personality to the brand. It was an ideal vehicle for people who need maximum space, AWD capability and as much utility as possible. In addition, the Honda Element was an excellent pet mover. It had one of the lowest, flattest floors of any AWD vehicle I’ve driven and the floors were durable enough to hose out.
I wrote a story about the 2010 Honda Element with the Dog Friendly upgrade a while back. It was a novel idea, one that attracted acclaim from pet lovers, the AKC and me. Yep, I thought it was a dandy idea and got a chance to see the upgrade in action.
It was a $995 option and it came with the following:
- Stowing/folding dog ramp
- Dog-patterned seat covers
- All-season floor mats with dog bone shapes
- Electric fan
- A leash, collar and dog tag
- Kennel organizer
- Bag dispenser – plastic bags for “poopie bombs”
- Tote bag
- “Dog Friendly” tags
- Rear car kennel – big enough for a dog up to 80 pounds
- Spill-resistant water bowl
- Pet bed big enough for a large breed
Look, I know the Honda Element was a bit of an oddball and it was pokey too. Have a 2.4-liter engine putting out just 166 horsepower is on the low side. The under 23 mpg combined was kind of lousy too – but, what do you expect when driving something with the aerodynamic qualities of Kim Jong-un’s head?
It was peppy enough on the street, the AWD system was excellent in Colorado snow, it was big enough to hold my buddy’s street bike (we removed the front wheel) and the cargo ability was top notch with 74.6 cubic feet maximum. I saw a former coworker buy the dog friendly upgrade (the doggy bones on the seats was a nifty touch) and she used it to haul two medium sized mutts all over the state in luxury.
I wonder what other automakers haven’t considered this pet-friendly idea?
The good news, and the reason for this story, is that Honda still has the kit available for anyone who has a used Honda Element. You have to buy the components separately, it costs $433.87 just to get “a rear car kennel, a kennel organizer, a pet bed with the Dog Friendly Element pattern and a spill-resistant water bowl that nestles in the corner of the kennel.”- – Honda eStore
I hope more automakers think about pets in the near future. There are millions of households in the United States that have dogs and cats as members of the family – why not make them part of the family car too?
Check out this video of Roman and I driving the next best thing from Honda – a CR-V!
You know what? I almost bought a Honda Element when it first came out. The only reason I passed was because She-who-must-be-obeyed wanted seating for three in back. Bummer, it would have made a nice ride for my small family.