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  1. #1
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    looking at the element or forester

    Need some help from you guys. I need to replace my 96 Tacoma. Its starting to need rapers all the time and with all the driving im doing for work the 13 to 14mpg is killing me. Im looking at both and want to know how people that have them like them and if any one has compared the 2. I do construction so I need the space fore tools and stuff. Im leaning tword the Element because its bigger and I like all the uses it has. Just wondering how people that have had them like them after say 5 years. I havenít ever owned either brand just ford and toyota. How does Honda and Suparu compare.

  2. #2
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    I have had a couple honda's and never had any major mechanical issues with them. I have an element now and I think it is a great vehicle for the biking lifestyle. Don't expect crazy MPG increase though. Most people see 20-26MPG depending on the trans and driving habits. The boxy shape doesn't lend itself to great gas mileage.

    2003 was the first year so you are not going to find many that have had them for 5+ years. You might want to check out the element owners club forum for more info.

    http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/

  3. #3
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    I also work in construction and I find my Element works out quite well for me. All the tols I need most days fit behind the back seats and with the seats up I can fit damn near all the (site) tools I own in it, including small table saw and 12" compound miter. Of course I have access to a full size company truck when needed but 99% of the time the Element works just fine. With the passenger side seat flat you can actually fit a fair amount of 8' material in there.

  4. #4
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    Thanx guys i got to drive one today and really liked it. I think it would work well for me. Now its just the money im warryed about.

  5. #5
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    I have an 01 Forester and was thinking of replacing my wife's 99 CR-V with an Element. I love the practicality of the Element - lots of interior space BUT I and the wife can't get past the look. Up here in the Great White North I prefer the Forester's AWD and higher ground clearance. I know the Element comes in AWD as well but its works differently than Subaru's. I would say gas mileage is a toss up between the 2. My wife's CR-V has been dead reliable for the past 9 years (200,000+ kms) with general maintenance. My Forester has cost a bit more due to replacing the dreaded head gaskets but its been good to me otherwise. Think of it as a tall wagon.

    When and if I need to carry more cargo, I have a roof luggage box or a small utlility trailer. I believe the Forester is rated to tow more than the Element.
    Last edited by 01Forester; 04-25-2008 at 01:28 PM.

  6. #6
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    We have an 03 Element EX we bought new in 03. Almost 5 years. Still loving it, still extremely dependable.

    It's perfect for us as skiers/bikers. The interior cleans up good as new after a winter of salt & snow or a muddy spring. I run 18's on it and still get around 24 hwy, 20 city. 5 spd manual.

    It's a Honda, it'll run forever.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01Forester
    Think of it as a tall wagon.
    Yeah it's a jacked up impreza with different sheet metal.

    If you're interested in performance at all, checkout the Forester XT. VERY quick wagon.
    Last edited by Steve71; 04-25-2008 at 10:13 AM.
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  8. #8
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    I'm a Mopar guy, but I can't help but love the Element. My wife has an 06 and that thing rocks. I've had 2 bikes plus misc stuff on the inside and it works fine. We also take the Element whenever we do anything outdoorsie. Its good for snowboarding, and camping because the inside interior is all waterproof. You can roll out the carpet and litteraly hose down the inside without messing anything up.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pulser
    Thanx guys i got to drive one today and really liked it. I think it would work well for me. Now its just the money im warryed about.
    You need to drive the 09 Forester too, looks much better than the Element.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by syadasti
    You need to drive the 09 Forester too, looks much better than the Element.

    I want to but it is more expensive and definetly dosen't have the room the element has.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pulser
    I want to but it is more expensive and definetly dosen't have the room the element has.
    No they are basically the same in both respects but the Forester is a real 5 door wagon and has much more ground clearance, 2" higher. I like real rear doors vs. those on the Element.

    2009 Forester AWD Total Interior Volume: 102.1 cu ft
    30.8 cu. ft. cargo space
    Starts at $19995

    2008 Honda Element 4WD Total Interior Volume: 103.6 cu ft
    26 cu. ft. cargo space
    Starts at $20,380

    The new Forester has a huge rear opening, so the cargo space is really useable, see this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oY-sstA3Ec

    Here is the Forester owning the CRV (same AWD system as the Element) in a hill climb:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki9ad5UCmwo

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by syadasti
    No they are basically the same in both respects but the Forester is a real 5 door wagon and has much more ground clearance, 2" higher. I like real rear doors vs. those on the Element.

    2009 Forester AWD Total Interior Volume: 102.1 cu ft
    30.8 cu. ft. cargo space
    Starts at $19995

    2008 Honda Element 4WD Total Interior Volume: 103.6 cu ft
    26 cu. ft. cargo space
    Starts at $20,380

    The new Forester has a huge rear opening, so the cargo space is really useable, see this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oY-sstA3Ec

    Here is the Forester owning the CRV (same AWD system as the Element) in a hill climb:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki9ad5UCmwo
    Cargo volume is an interesting thing. You can have the same volume but the way it is configured can be different. In a lot of ways the element is almost like a pickup truck with a cap on it and has a ton of vertical space The Element can have 3 bikes standing up inside with the seats flipped out of the way or you can remove the seats altogether. The biggest thing for me is not having to deal with carpet in the element. It makes clean up simple after you throw a dirty greasy bike in there.

    In the end it is a matter of personal choice. I drove the forrester before i got the element and it wasn't for me. The things that really sold me on the element where how you can configure the cargo space, lack of carpets, and how just about everything was suited to the active lifestyle - waterproof/high wear fabrics on the seats for example. The forrester seemed like just a big hatchback and we already had a Mazda3 hatch so we were looking for something different. not every car is going to suit everyone so drive them both and choose the one that is best for you.

    As for the AWD - the Forrester uses a serious AWD system. The element and CRV is more of a basic system. If you are going to be climbing hills like that all the time you would be better off with another vehicle. As it is in average use the 4WD system in the element/CRV is going to be plenty for most people. Depends on what you need so pick the one that is best for you.

  13. #13
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    *ops*

  14. #14
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    I know exactly what usable cargo volume is and the completely redesigned 2009 forester has plenty of it. I didn't like old version and skipped it last time I was car shopping (I don't own a Forester or an Element BTW) but the new version is completely different. Putting bikes in your car is PITA and my friend who owns an element has a Thule T2 which is by far the best solution. You can fit three in the smaller Toyota Matrix too, heh:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=398976

    See this video for the usable cargo comparison - it even beats the RAV4 which has much more cargo volume.:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oY-sstA3Ec

  15. #15
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    Too Rass - Do you feel it has enough power going up and down the steep uphills? After driving 6 cylinders for many years I am wondering if I will miss the power.

    Thanks.

    John B.

  16. #16
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    In the 5 speed yes. I can pull a very large hill here in PA no problem in 5th.

    A friend of mine took his to Summit County CO when he moved. He was worried about power at that elevation, but his 5 spd is doing fine there as well.

    It has more get up and go on hills than my Wrangler (which is built for torque) because the E has deeper gearing. My other car is a 71 Bronco, 300 hp 302. Obviously, neither of them come close to it's power, but the Element is sufficient. It's not like you're going to tow with it or anything.

    Did you test drive a stick yet?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by syadasti
    I know exactly what usable cargo volume is and the completely redesigned 2009 forester has plenty of it. I didn't like old version and skipped it last time I was car shopping (I don't own a Forester or an Element BTW) but the new version is completely different. Putting bikes in your car is PITA and my friend who owns an element has a Thule T2 which is by far the best solution. You can fit three in the smaller Toyota Matrix too, heh:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=398976

    See this video for the usable cargo comparison - it even beats the RAV4 which has much more cargo volume.:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oY-sstA3Ec
    I am not saying that that forester is not a good vehicle. Every vehicle has it's pluses and minuses. I was pointing out that the interior space in the element is more configurable for what I need to do and was telling the original poster to check it out and decide for themselves. The fact that there was no carpet was one of the major selling points for me. For others this may not be the case.

    The video that you keep posting is a Subaru promotional video. I am pretty sure it is going to show the Forester in the best light possible. They made a box that would fit exactly into the forester because of the slightly larger opening. If they had turned the box length wise it looks like it would have went into any of the vehicles.

    Like I said in my initial response the Element and Forester are different vehicles with different pluses and minuses. The OP needs to take them out and decide what is best for them.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Too Rass Goat
    In the 5 speed yes. I can pull a very large hill here in PA no problem in 5th.

    A friend of mine took his to Summit County CO when he moved. He was worried about power at that elevation, but his 5 spd is doing fine there as well.

    It has more get up and go on hills than my Wrangler (which is built for torque) because the E has deeper gearing. My other car is a 71 Bronco, 300 hp 302. Obviously, neither of them come close to it's power, but the Element is sufficient. It's not like you're going to tow with it or anything.

    Did you test drive a stick yet?
    I haven't test driven anything yet, I am still in the research phase. I would probably go with the automatic just because my commutes are in heavy stop and go traffic. I am trying to come up with my short list at this point.

    I originally did not have the E on my list, but a friend has a 2005 or 2006 that he is able to get 2 bikes in with no problem. I was originally looking at small pickups, but I am having trouble stomaching the gas mileage.

    thanks.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaikara
    Like I said in my initial response the Element and Forester are different vehicles with different pluses and minuses. The OP needs to take them out and decide what is best for them.
    It clearly states it a promo video, duh. You probably wouldn't want a large box oriented vertically so it could shift/fall over - just shows the importance of a large opening - the space isn't as useful otherwise. Thats why the Element has the suicide door setup too...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by syadasti
    It clearly states it a promo video, duh. You probably wouldn't want a large box oriented vertically so it could shift/fall over - just shows the importance of a large opening - the space isn't as useful otherwise. Thats why the Element has the suicide door setup too...
    So let me get this straight every item you put in the back of a vehicle is going to be the exact size so it doesn't shift or fall over? They custom made the box that size so the forester looked good compared to the others. If they turned the box length ways it looks like it would fit into all the vehicles. That is the reason for the promo video - to make the forester look good in comparison to other vehicles. I was just pointing that out no need to throw that duh in there

    My original information still stands - I gave my opinion on why I think the element is better for me. For you the forester may be better. See that is the crazy thing about opinions. We can hold different ones and still both be right. It is up to the original poster to decide what is best for them.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bergjm
    I haven't test driven anything yet, I am still in the research phase. I would probably go with the automatic just because my commutes are in heavy stop and go traffic. I am trying to come up with my short list at this point.

    I originally did not have the E on my list, but a friend has a 2005 or 2006 that he is able to get 2 bikes in with no problem. I was originally looking at small pickups, but I am having trouble stomaching the gas mileage.

    thanks.
    If you are looking at a newish element the auto will probably get better mileage if you do lots of highway because of the gearing. If you are doing lots of city then the manual will be better. You can also get way more than two bikes in it. I had two bikes in it with just one seat out. With both seats out you could probably get 3-4. I ended up getting a hitch mounted rack myself for convenience sake but it is nice to be able to throw the bike inside if i need to.

    I get roughly 22-26 MPG depending on the type of driving I am doing (mine is a 5 speed manual that I put all terrain tires on) Just be aware that on my 2007 the tank is small and the low fuel light comes on really early. It has a 60L tank and if i fill it up when the light comes on I only put 45-47L in. The only other complaint I had with the element were the tires that came on it. The stock wranglers are crappy and I replaced them after 300km. If you do go with the element you might want to see if your dealer can replace them for you before you take the vehicle off the lot. In my case I just bought new tires and sold the old ones.

  22. #22
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    The original autos are dogs. I understand the new ones are geared completely differently and actually have some pep. I haven't driven the new autos to know first hand though.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Too Rass Goat
    The original autos are dogs. I understand the new ones are geared completely differently and actually have some pep. I haven't driven the new autos to know first hand though.
    I test drove a 2007 in auto and didn't mind it found that it accelerated well and was smooth. I have never driven with with the older transmission though so I can't compare. I think the biggest benefit isn't going to be acceleration (MT will always win there) but gearing to give you better MPG during highway driving. I have always felt that the MT needs a 6th gear to drop the RPM lower at highway speeds (there are actually a few people on the Element owner forum that have done this mod to their trans).

    We were actually going to buy the auto. I did want manual but they had a hard time finding exactly what i wanted in the MT. At the last minute they were able to find one exactly the way i wanted - Black, MT, EX AWD so we went for it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Too Rass Goat
    The original autos are dogs. I understand the new ones are geared completely differently and actually have some pep. I haven't driven the new autos to know first hand though.

    The 08 auto i drove the other night had really good power. I pulled out on the high way and stomped on it and it got up to 80 with out any tire squeal and in good time. Alot quicker then my tacoma can do that.

  25. #25
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    Our Element has 87k on the dial. Last weekend we went to Sea Otter with 3 people, 4 bikes, and a bunch of gear and averaged 21.5mpg. Around town we average 23. 25 is our highway mileage. This is a first-gen 2003 AWD by the way. I believe it's the most versatile vehicle made. It's only drawback is it's relatively low GVWR rating.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Padre
    It's only drawback is it's relatively low GVWR rating.
    I don't tow anything but there is a fairly big discussion on the element owners club forums on the max towing weight on the element. It seems that in Europe and Australia the max weight numbers are quite a bit higher even though there is no differences between the vehicles. They also break it down for trailers with brakes and without. Check it out if you need to tow stuff.

    http://www.elementownersclub.com/for...ead.php?t=7829

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve71
    Yeah it's a jacked up impreza with different sheet metal.

    If you're interested in performance at all, checkout the Forester XT. VERY quick wagon.
    Indeed! I went from a Mustang GT to my XT and its every bit as quick, plus I can fit bikes inside if needed.

    And its fun to drive it like a hooligan, year round, in the mountains...
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  28. #28
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    Also, I've put in some good road trip miles in an Element (Colorado Springs to Austin, TX and back in a weekend) and I was seriously underwhelmed. But then again, I like cars that are actually fun to DRIVE. Cargo capacity is a bonus for me, not a deciding factor. I get about the same mileage in my Forester as we got in the Element, but unlike the Element, my car isn't slow.

  29. #29
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    I got to look at an 09 forester today. Its really nice and I can see how it would be a lot more fun to drive. I was also really impressed with the looks and the interior. It just doesnít have the space or the utility of the element. But the sales guy kind of gave me an idea he asked if putting a roof top box on would help with what I need to carry. Any know how much that would kill the gas millage?

  30. #30
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    I don't keep track of mileage like some, but i do quick calculations in my head when i fill up. My skibox didn't kill the mileage enough for me to really teke notice. Don't have any hard numbers for you though. If I was really worried about mileage, I wouldn't have chosen the XT...

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy79
    I don't keep track of mileage like some, but i do quick calculations in my head when i fill up. My skibox didn't kill the mileage enough for me to really teke notice. Don't have any hard numbers for you though. If I was really worried about mileage, I wouldn't have chosen the XT...

    Cool do you have room for 2 bikes with the skibox?

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by pulser
    But the sales guy kind of gave me an idea he asked if putting a roof top box on would help with what I need to carry. Any know how much that would kill the gas millage?
    On most vehicles you would probably be looking at 1-2MPG less then normal so unless you track your mileage exactly you probably won't really notice. I have been meaning to get one and did some research on the element board and that was the consensus. A roof top box is a great way to get more storage if you need it. You should be able to get two bikes and a box but you may have to get an after market rack with wider load bars. It depends on how wide the factory rack is and how wide the roof box is. Here is a thread on the element forum with lots of racks and different configs. Even though you might be going with the forester it will give you some ideas.

    http://www.elementownersclub.com/for...roof+bike+rack

    I personally like to have my bikes on a hitch mounted rack as it is easier to do then up on a roof. The bigger the vehicle the harder it will be. But then again I am only 5'8" so if you are taller it might work better for you

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by pulser
    Cool do you have room for 2 bikes with the skibox?
    just one bike up top with the ski box. The box takes up a little more than half the width of the crossbars. can fit another bike inside, laying on its side, with both wheels on when the seats are folded down. You could probably do 2 bikes and box with wider aftermarket crossbars as mentioned above, but that looks ugly IMO. You might be able to squeeze 2 bikes on the factory rack with the box if one is frontwards and the other is backwards, but honestly I doubt it.

    edit...after looking through some pictures, i'm going to have to say no, only one bike with box with factory bars, unless you find a narrower box.
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    Last edited by ryguy79; 04-27-2008 at 08:02 AM.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaikara
    I personally like to have my bikes on a hitch mounted rack as it is easier to do then up on a roof. The bigger the vehicle the harder it will be. But then again I am only 5'8" so if you are taller it might work better for you
    I like the idea of a hitch rack, but went with a roof rack for a few reasons...

    1. The Forester, while taller than most cars, is still short enough that I don't have a hard time loading my bike up top. I'm not much taller than you at 5'9". Now loading bikes on my buddy's Xterra with a roof rack...thats another story.

    2. The Rocky Mounts Noose mounts directly to my factory bars, saving money by not having to buy different crossbars.

    3. I don't have a hitch and wasn't going to pay for a hitch rack + a hitch.

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