Performance

As I mentioned earlier, the CR-V is a far superior vehicle if you're looking for a compact SUV and don't need such unique digs for your dog. The Element does offer a very high seating position with a rather low step-in height, which is nice for drivers who have a hard time getting into taller SUVs.

The driving experience is pedestrian. The 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine is buzzy, acceleration is dreadful, and there's a lot of wind noise — you are driving a box, after all — as well as road noise compared to newer competition and the CR-V.

Handling is surprisingly good for a tall, boxy design, and there isn't as much body lean as you might expect. Otherwise, there are so many truly exceptional compact SUVs on the market — CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Chevy Equinox — that it would be hard to recommend the Element on its driving chops alone.

Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

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