It's about time to replace my aging Ford Escape, which I like a lot but it's reaching end of life and gets crummy milage anyway.
The benefits of the Element are getting me real excited, even though it's ugly as hell I want one for some reason. In fact it's so ugly it's appealing in a strange way. Can anybody give me some feedback on it?
- How's it drive? Is it loud inside?
- Does in have tiedown hooks on the inside floors? I love the idea of putting a full bike inside upright. Those seats folding up is a great idea! I don't feel safe with my bike up on the roof of the Escape, having my bike inside makes me feel a lot better.
- How is it for a ski vehicle? I imagine it's great. I'd probably still need to put a box on the roof for skis though? Imagine 4 people with boards and skis.
- Real world mileage?
I had a 5spd manual '03 for about 4 years. I mountain bike, road bike, and snowboard. Fantastic gear hauler. I regret getting rid of it. Thoughts:
1. It's not bad handling for a washing machine/toaster oven/refrigerator.
2. It doesn't have all that great acceleration, even with the manual.
3. The rubberized floors are nice - wipe 'em out and you're done.
4. 90% of the time I had one of the back seats removed entirely. In that configuration it's very easy to roll a complete bike - or two - inside, even my bigger bikes.
5. It was a great camping vehicle. Fold the seats flat, and voila - bed. If I was car camping solo somewhere, I never needed to bring a tent.
6. Good stero.
7. Mechanically reliable - I put about 50K miles on mine (started with 18K) and never one mechanical problem.
8. The all wheel drive system is adequate for snowy roads. I felt it worked better than the Outback I had immediately prior to getting the Element. It also handled dirt roads just fine.
9. That said, it is NOT a 4WD vehicle. It has pretty lousy clearance, so it's not suited for really deep snow or seriously rutted/technical dirt roads.
10. With both back seats in normal "seating" configuration, it doesn't have a lot of "trunk" space behind them for gear. So yeah, with 4 people and ski gear, you're definitely going to need a cargo carrier on top.
11. Lots of front and rear legroom.
12. The suicide doors are neat, but annoying. You can't open the back door unless you open the front. This also compromises side-impact safety. I think it gets mediocre crash-test ratings for side impact.
13. With both back seats removed or folded up, it's cavernous for hauling stuff. A buddy and I road tripped to Fruita in it with all of our gear and four bikes, with room to spare.
14. It is LOUD inside. Very little to no sound insulation.
15. It does have an "econobox" sort of feel. No satisfying "thump" when you close the door. The exhaust has a cheap "tinny" note.
16. I averaged about 23 mpg in mixed driving - about 50/50 highway and in town. However...with the 5 speed...it got AWFUL highway gas mileage over 70 mph. Like 18 mpg, even without any bikes on the roof. 5th gear wasn't a lot higher than 4th - I never really considered it to have a highway gear. Not when you're pulling 3-4000 rpms at 75.
17. It only seats 4. There is no middle rear seat.
So, that's about it.