2010 Honda Element Dog Friendly Edition Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 39 percent of all U.S. households own at least one dog, with an estimated total dog population of 74.8 million. And in a 2008 estimate, all pet purchases and related products and services comprised an estimated total annual market value of more than $43 billion. 

It was in light of these estimates that the folks at American Honda Motor Company decided to take action. Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of Product Planning for American Honda pointed out: "The Honda Element has long been recognized as an accommodating vehicle for people with active lifestyles involving sports and hobbies. And our new 'Dog Friendly' Element takes that concept to a whole new level with specially designed features for dogs and their owners." 

Kudos to Honda's US division! Finally, an auto manufacturer has seen the light and stepped up to the plate answering the needs of dogs and their loving owners, with an emphasis on safety. The 2010 US-spec Honda Element EX model serves as the platform for the "Dog Friendly" package, which was engineered to integrate with factory precision. The canine friendly equipment is intended to accommodate the safe and secure transportation of a dog in the cargo area within a specially designed, nylon-webbed car kennel. In daily operation, the kennel helps keep the dog properly restrained and out of harm's way. In the event of a collision, the kennel is designed to help restrain the dog behind the rear seats, reducing the chance of it being injured, while also minimizing the chance of injury to human occupants. 

In addition to safety, the Dog Friendly equipment enhances pet comfort by providing a soft floor surface for legs and paws along with a dedicated cooling fan and a spill resistant water source. Loading and unloading convenience is improved with an integrated ramp that features easy to clean surfaces. There's also a bag with the Dog Friendly logo that contains a bone shaped container of "doodie" bags for cleaning up after your dog's bio-business, a logo collar and restraint straps. Everything is easily removable when not transporting pets and more cargo space is needed. The Dog Friendly equipment group is priced at $995 USD. 

The 2010 Honda Element is people friendly too. It received a host of upgrades for the 2009 model year that included a freshened exterior appearance and an enhanced interior design. In The Element is available in three trim levels ranging from the Element LX, to the more refined Element EX, and finally to the sporty Element SC. The Dog Friendly equipment group, however, is designed exclusively for the Element EX trim level. 

The Element's easy to clean urethane floor provides an expansive, innovative storage area.  The cargo area is readily adaptable for hauling large items with its flip-up rear seats that fold flat, up and to the side, or may be removed altogether (there are 64-plus possible seating arrangements!).  Wide-opening side doors, a low lift-in height, and dimensions that accommodate tall items also lend to the ease of transporting gear. The interior seats four people comfortably. 

Power for the Element comes from a 2.4-litre, 16-valve i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that delivers 166 horsepower along with 161 pound-feet of torque. The engine mates to a five-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels, or all four, with the available four-wheel drive version. 

Our "Dog Friendly" Honda Element EX was in the four-wheel drive configuration with Honda's GPS Navigation System.  It sported a highly visible "Citrus Fire" metallic exterior finish with Charcoal cladding and Satin Silver trim.  The interior came in Charcoal and Gray with Silver trim.  The base price of the LX 2WD is set at $28,580 and the EX 4WD at $33,680 including freight and PDI, although keep in mind that the US-spec EX is different than our Canadian Element EX model and therefore might not accommodate the ultimate doggie package, which, by the way, is only available in the US. 

Just the same, the Honda Element EX is extremely versatile, not to mention affordable in terms of the initial purchase price – especially for what you get. Certainly, four-wheel drive isn't a necessary option for everyone, nor is the navigation system, although the latter is a nice feature to have. 

The Element performs well in any of its trim levels and driveline configurations, and it is capable of towing up to 680 kilos (1,500 pounds) when properly equipped. Handling and ride quality are both good. With fuel economy ratings estimated at 12.3 L/100km in the city and 9.8 on the highway on the EPA cycle, it's easy on the wallet to operate. 

Bottom line, the Honda Element EX Dog Friendly edition is a doggone good idea that other vehicle manufacturers are sure to pick up on.  Once again the only negative to this story is that Honda's Canadian division hasn't picked up on it yet.  No doubt the aforementioned dog related product sales numbers are smaller in Canada, but the percentage of dog owners is similar and therefore there has to a reasonably good market here.  While the "Dog Friendly" option package referenced here is fitted to a US-spec Element EX and can't be purchased here, we decided to run this story because we thought avid dog owners in Canada would want to know what's available.  Just keep in mind that if you decide to drive south of the border to outfit your Element with the doggie option, make sure before you go that it can be done to your specific Element trim level.  Your dealer might be willing to accommodate too, so ask before you head south.  No doubt, if enough dog owners ask, Honda Canada will likely adopt the program. 

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Honda, Element, $20,000 - $29,999,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page