Honda Element (again) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-28-2006, 08:57 PM   #1
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I suppose this question is primarily for Gina and any others driving Elements. By summer's end I'll be driving an Element and I am interested in real-life adventure stories about towing a fiberglass egg. I know all about the tech specs, so what's the actual experiences of Element drivers? I'm still looking for my egg. I am a bare bones kind of camper; I don't take along everything I own, so I don't believe excess weight will be a problem...well, other than my cast iron pots.

There does not seem to be any power difference in the LX, EX and EX-P 2006 models. I don't know about the 2007 models yet.

Who wants to share?
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Old 06-28-2006, 10:59 PM   #2
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My experience towing a 13 footer with my Element is mostly positive. It seems a nice compromise for milage, ability (With a caveat... later) and use as a daily driver.

If you are careful about the weight, and are not crazy.. like wanting to tow at 80mph, you will be just fine with one.

Equip it properly with tranny cooler and brakes.

The caveat... it is not a high powered machine. You will not be towing up hills at the speed limit, nor will you be wandering logging roads. With FWD, you will have some traction issues if you are towing on inclided dirt roads. The tongue weight of the trailer in such circumstances will limit you. I personally have not found this a life crushing problem, but if you intend to go off the beaten path, the Element may not be a good choice.

Also remember, that ANY 13 footer is going to be pushing the specified limits of the Element, no matter HOW scaled down it is.

My trailer, at it's most loaded, comes in at 1450. Many will tell you that is within the spec limits, but breaks the 15% rule. I am aware of this, and try to keep the weight down as much as possible, but I also know that some here, Patrick for example, are towing much heavier trailers with thier Element.

I have a class 1 hitch. When I first starting towing with the E it was with a 400lb pop up. I wish I had put on a class 2 or 3 now. My tongue weight is pushing things as well. I am still within spec for my hitch, but a fudge factor would make me feel better.

I hydroplaned once while towing the Burro. Using my trailer brakes, I was able to bring things back in line safely, but the small stain in my drivers seat cannot be fixed It was the only time where I thought bigger may have been better.

Just be alert.. you should be fine.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:48 AM   #3
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What Gina said

The 2007 are said to have 10+ more horsepower, but I suspect the official towing limit will be the same. I don't see any major improvements that would make me wait for one, but there will be some nice minor ones, like shoulder belts in the seat rather than the back door making opening it without unbuckling possible.

I have been very satisfied with the towing ability of our 2WD auto Element. We have been up some very steep grades with ease (the short road up to the cemetary in Deadwood is a doozy!), and I typically breeze past semis on Interstate grades at 50-60. Front wheel spin has occurred two or three times from a stop in gravel on moderate grades, like out of a camground or gas station. Those times I wished I had AWD. After 16,000 towing miles our average MPG is 17.5, with highs of 20-21 and lows of 15-16.

Yep, I'm over the 1,500# towing spec at 1,850#. We try to reduce weight with every trip (back seats totalling 85# are removed) to keep that down, but it has not resulting in any towing difficulties. There is also some evidence that this may be purposely understated for non-engineering reasons. On the other hand, many very knowledgeable people religiously follow the 75% of capacity rule and I'm happy for them.

I do believe in trailer brakes. A must-have item. On the other hand, Honda does not require an aux tranny cooler for towing and I have not yet added one, but I'm thinking about it! No doubt a good idea. I do like the class 2 (or is it 3?) hitch I got from UHaul, although the class 1 is adequate it just looks wimpy!

People at the Element forum seem very happy with the towing ability also. http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/

Good luck!
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
....
Yep, I'm over the 1,500# towing spec at 1,850#. We try to reduce weight with every trip (back seats totalling 85# are removed) to keep that down, but it has not resulting in any towing difficulties. There is also some evidence that this may be purposely understated for non-engineering reasons....
Thanks for all the info. I have a CR-V (AWE) which is quite similar (tell me if I am wrong) and this is also my conclusion. Towing is not an issue. I read here that the towing capacity (CR-V, automatic) in Australia is rated at 3,000 pounds... for... obviously "non-engineeringreasons" also!

Quote:
Honda does not require an aux tranny cooler for towing and I have not yet added one, but I'm thinking about it! No doubt a good idea.
This is also what my dealer told me! " You don't need a transmission cooler!" But... I will also get one shortly... just in case.

By the way I got an average of 16 miles per gallon (US) or 14.5 litres/100 km on a trip to Florida.

Thanks also for the Element Forum referral.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:30 AM   #5
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The CR-V ratings in AussieVille is why it appears the US ratings appear to be purposely understated. (The Element shares a similar frame & engine (but not the 5-speed auto transmission) with the CR-V.) My research on this is posted here: http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/sh...read.php?t=7829

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Old 06-29-2006, 10:51 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the replies. Patrick, special thanks for the link to the Element owners club. If they are right about the design of the 2007 copying the look of the Scion, I'll stick to a 2006! I'm not planning a cross-country trip, just weekend getaways (when I don't have to do an open house on Sunday afternoon...guess what I do for a living). I belong to a club that also has a campground on the lake 25 miles from my home and I could leave the egg there year-round if I pay a modest fee. Cheaper than buying a cottage. Many options, but the open road does beckon.

You have confirmed the necessity of a tranny cooler (electric brakes are a no-brainer for me), and the upgraded hitch was something I had no thought about.

One night when we are all sitting around a campfire I'll tell you stories about towing a 26 foot sailboat with a Nissan pickup.

Many thanks.
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Old 06-30-2006, 07:05 AM   #7
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Keep in mind that the Element's relatively short wheelbase makes it easier for the trailer to steer the TV in wet conditions.
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:28 AM   #8
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I suppose this question is primarily for Gina and any others driving Elements. By summer's end I'll be driving an Element and I am interested in real-life adventure stories about towing a fiberglass egg. I know all about the tech specs, so what's the actual experiences of Element drivers? I'm still looking for my egg. I am a bare bones kind of camper; I don't take along everything I own, so I don't believe excess weight will be a problem...well, other than my cast iron pots.

There does not seem to be any power difference in the LX, EX and EX-P 2006 models. I don't know about the 2007 models yet.

Who wants to share?
Don I asked this same question about 6 months ago. After much thought research and many replies on this board I went ahead and bought a T@B trailer to tow with my 2003 Element. My trailer runs in at about 1600lb fully loaded for a trip and the Element is AWD and Automatic transmission.
I have found that I am getting about 17 or 18 mpg.
The biggest thing was to learn NOT to run with overdrive on unless the grade is slightly downhill...tranny will seek.
I do not have a tranny cooler and since the T@B has a surge brake I have no electric brakes.
All in all things have gone just fine. The real test will be later this month when we go to the prairie egg gathering in Maple Creek Saskatchewan...then after that pull to the rockies.

Ken D
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Old 09-12-2006, 08:44 AM   #9
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I have picked up a 77 SurfSide. It's trailer weight is listed as 1650 lbs. I also drive an Element and although I have not towed my trailer far yet, I dont think this combo will be an issue.

I am curious though as to someone posting here that they would simply buy a bigger hitch i.e. Class II or Class III hitch and I am not so sure that would help the situation. The Element is supposedly rated for 1500 lbs of towing and from what I've read, especially on the trailer hitch websites is that getting a bigger hitch, is not supposed to mean you can tow more weight.

I could be wrong. At any rate so far my class 1 hidden hitch is doing the trick for me and my SurfSide behind my '05 AWD Honda Element.

Thanks
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Old 09-12-2006, 09:06 AM   #10
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The Honda official hitch is a very expensive Class I good for 2,000#, and certainly adequate for the Element. However, most people posting their experiences go to UHaul or the Internet and get a 2" Class III (to save money for one thing!) The 2" gives the option of using hitch accessories like platforms, bike rakes, etc.. A bigger hitch does not change the towing capacity.

Check the Hitch area here for much more info: http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/fo...isplay.php?f=43
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Old 09-12-2006, 08:37 PM   #11
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Don is here. This week I am actually trying to buy a new 2006 2WD Element EX. You wouldn't think it so hard, but the dealer @#$%^&*. We have owned 6 Hondas and this is the first time we experienced any grief in the buying process. Anyway, the last I heard the vehicle will be on the lot on Wednesday. The dealer installed hitch is way over priced but it's about the only add-on they have not tried to sell me. I would rather go to the dentist than buy a car.
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Old 09-12-2006, 10:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
I would rather go to the dentist than buy a car...
... from a Dealer.
I plan to drive my Odyssey for at least 15 years for that reason. I drove my last Dealer purchased car, a 1979 VW Beetle Convertible, for 16 years. At least your Dentist will give you something to deaden the pain...
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:00 PM   #13
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I was the one who said I should have put a II or III on instead of a I. Altho I am within the limits of the hitch (Also a Hidden Hitch, I installed it all by myself ... woo hoo!) I still would be a bit more comfy with a beefier one. I can see the receiver has sagged a bit, and I am very careful about checking the hardware etc on a regular basis.

Being at the Top edge of it's limits is somehow wierd to me, tho I am probably quite OK. It's a perception thing.

And on another note.. Don, I put off buying a new car mostly because I can't stand the process. It seems a necessary evil.. but I found a happy solution. Both financially and in less frustration.

I put my pride away and entertained the thought of buying a low milage used car. I checked into CARMAX.. What a great place and reasonably painless! They deal mostly in VERY low mile cars. They have some higher milage ones too, but.. Check to see if there is one in your area. (They are nationwide)

They have a set price, no haggling and since they deal in all makes and models of used, they do NOT have that "Buy an OEM accessory" thing happening. No added time for them to sell you under body sealer, fancy wax or ... tow packages.

I went in to see how they worked, ON MY LUNCH HOUR, and drove 3 cars. A CRV, a Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Liberty I eventually bought. I simply told the guy what I was looking for, he showed me what was available and didn't try to upsell me or suggest anything different than what I was looking for.

The lot is laid out like a filing cabinet, very easy to find what you are interested in. The cars are lined up by type (SUV, Truck, Wagon, Sedan etc) and then all the makes and models are together, going from the smallest to the largest. Examples.. Ford Escapes followed by Mariners, Tributes, CRVS, Elements (not that they had more than one.. he said they never stay there long) and all the way up to Excursions in that row.

The Liberty had a whopping 4693 miles on it. Still has new car smell. The financing took all of 20 mins, and 3 different warranties were offered, but not forced on me. No meant no with them. They thoroughly went over Jeeps warranty with me, even tho they made no money on it.

They pulled the Liberty out of the "active" pile, held it with nothing more than a handshake and gave me the opportunity to go away, research the model and pricing, check with my insurance on rates etc, run a Carfax and make a decision on my own.

They have a 5 day no questions asked return policy, in writing. The entire buying process took less than two hours. I drove the car home that nite, had it checked within the 5 days by a knowledgable Jeep person and I decided to keep it. At a substancial discount from the new price and someone else got the headache of the new car buying process. I am sure they didn't do well as it has most all the options, including the upcharged Red Pearl Metalic paint job. (Something I would have actually ordered if I was buying new.. happy bonus!)

I got over the stigma of not being it's "First" real fast. Getting the Element new was about a 6 hour painful proposition. One I was trying to avoid like the plague.

Had the Jeep for a little over 3 weeks, have put 2500 miles on it and have had no issues. Just like a new one off the lot!

Another alternative buying process.. I got my 98 Civic new thru Costco. Ordered it on the phone, they called when it was in 2 weeks later, (I wanted a clutch and there weren't any in the area at that time) I went to the dealer, drove it and was outta there in about 2 hours as well.
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