Honda Element gets dog-friendly, though doesn’t learn needed tricks

Consumer Reports News: October 15, 2009 01:49 PM

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Honda has expanded its accessory offerings for the Element SUV to include new equipment aimed to improve the safety and comfort of the four-legged passengers. The new “Dog Friendly” system can be integrated at the factory into the 2010 Element EX cargo area and will provide a place in daily driving for the pet to be properly restrained and out of reach from the driver. It will also help to restrain the dog behind the rear seats, so that the pet and occupants of the vehicle will have a reduced chance of injury in the event of a crash. The concept behind this canine commuter was previewed at the New York auto show.

The Dog Friendly components include a soft-sided cargo area kennel made from strong seat belt material netting, a cushioned pet bed in the cargo area, a 12-volt DC fan, second-row seat covers with a dog pattern, all-season rubber floor mats and a spill resistant water bowl. An extendable ramp will also store beneath the bed, so it can be accessed when the tailgate is open.

The 2010 Element EX version has an MSRP of $22,635 for the 2WD model. The dog equipment will retail at $995 and be available to buyers on Nov. 16th. The 2010 Element in all trims will be available at dealerships in mid-October.

Though it’s always been versatile and reliable, the Element is a bit long in the tooth. The “Dog Friendly” system may be well-liked by some, perhaps many people, but we would also have welcomed a couple of new tricks, such as a powertrain upgrade like that bestowed on the 2010 Honda CR-V—14 more horsepower and 1 more EPA-rated mpg. As it is, the Element suffers from significant road noise, lousy visibility, a stiff ride, and tricky emergency handling.

While Dog Friendly adds some appeal, at a significant price, it really doesn’t teach this old dog any new tricks to make it more competitive, or earn it a Consumer Reports Recommendation.

Liza Barth 

For more pet-related reports see:
Vacation travel for dogs
Best dogs for retirees
Tax break for pet care?


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