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2003 Honda Element Delivers Ultimate Utility and Value
 Date: August 16, 2002 22:07
 Submitted by:  Tuan
 Source: Honda Press Release
 Credibility Rating: N/A


Torrance, Calif. 08/16/2002 -- The 2003 Honda Element drives into new territory with a multi-functional cargo area, innovative and versatile seating, durable interior, energetic performance and outstanding value. The Element will go on sale in December 2002.
By combining popular traits from pickup trucks, SUVs and other vehicles that deliver one or two functions well but for a trade-off, Element aims to provide the best overall package with a hard flat floor like a pickup, an enclosed rear area like an SUV, fuel economy and handling performance like a car, available 4-wheel-drive, and a price starting around $16,000.

"Element incorporates a wide variety of unique features based on input from a new, active, young generation of vehicle buyers," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Side cargo doors with no B-pillar open from the center and allow for easy loading of bulky items. For sports gear including mountain bikes, snowboards, surfboards and other equipment, the rear seats flip to the side to create a vast cargo area. The rear seats also lay flat to form a bed with the front seats, or can be removed entirely.

Element is available in two trim levels, the entry DX and the fully-loaded EX. The EX models add alloy wheels, ABS, air conditioning, cruise control, power mirrors, audio system and more.

The rugged and worry-free interior of EX models features waterproof material on the front and rear bucket seats (front seat only on DX models). A urethane-coated utility floor resists water, dirt and scratches while providing easy clean up and easy cargo loading. A large rear skylight (on 4WD models) tilts or removes completely and stores inside the vehicle. The gear shifter for manual and automatic transmissions is located on the center of the instrument panel, within quick reach from the steering wheel. Element EX models come equipped with a 270-watt 7-speaker (with subwoofer) AM/FM/CD sound system and an auxiliary audio input built into the dash for digital media/MP3 players.

Composite body panels around the fenders further enhance Element's ruggedness by providing better resistance to scratches and wear than traditional painted exterior surfaces. The split rear tailgate bottom opens down - creating room for two to sit - while the upper part of the tailgate opens up and creates a canopy.

Honda's 2.4-liter, i-VTEC, 4-cylinder engine with 160-horsepower and 161 lb.-ft. of torque, coupled to either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission, provides good acceleration while maintaining fuel economy in the low- to mid-twenties (EPA certification pending).

The i-VTEC system (the "i" stands for "intelligent") combines Honda's patented VTEC system with Variable Timing Control (VTC) to enhance low rpm torque while extending high rpm horsepower. Honda's Real Time 4WD(TM) system is available on both DX and EX models, and 16-inch wheels are standard.

Element's chassis features a Toe Control Link MacPherson strut suspension in front and a compact double-wishbone suspension in the rear. Although similar to the underpinnings of the Honda CR-V, significant adjustments have been made to the unibody construction to allow for the B-pillarless design, larger tires and the low, flat floor. Element is anticipated to earn the highest government crash test ratings for front and side-impacts - five stars for all passengers. Driver's and passengers front airbags are standard along with front seatbelts with load limiters and buckle pre-tensioners. Driver and front passenger factory-installed side airbags are available on EX models.

Element is based on the Model X concept vehicle that debuted at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Many of the features displayed on the concept vehicle are incorporated into the final production version.

Developed by Honda R&D Americas in Torrance, California, and Raymond, Ohio, Element will be manufactured in Honda's East Liberty Plant in Ohio using domestic and globally-sourced parts.
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