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Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?

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Offline SA Bill

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Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« on: October 19, 2008, 12:00:32 AM »
In a year or two, it will be time to retire my trusty PT Cruiser and look for something else. I had a Dodge Durango 4WD before the PT and I did some of the back roads of BB in it. Since I've had the PT I've stayed off of the back roads except for the usual dirt roads passable by all vehicles. For my next vehicle, I thought it might be okay to try something different...a Honda Element 4WD.

I've always wanted to have a VW Vanagon camper with the pop top. That never happened and never will now that they are mostly out of circulation. I stumbled a upon this conversion today: A pop top AWD Honda Element! The new Vanagon? Might be.

Anyway, I like the pop top idea and think it would be kinda nice if I could drive to some of the out of the way places and pop the top, so to speak, to camp. Makes camp set up fast and easy!

Soooo....how capable is the 4WD Element going to be on the back roads of BB? Anyone have an Element that they've driven on the back roads? Is this an insane idea?  :icon_eek:
  Thanks!
   Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline whickums

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2008, 01:03:06 AM »
I have an AWD Element and unfortunately have not had much success on anything other than unpaved.  Although it's a wonderful 'utility' vehicle it has a low undercarriage.  We tried to do Glenn Springs rd to get to the Pine Canyon trail last week and had to turn around after about 1/2 a mile.  It made me so frustrated I though about trading it in for a Subaru Forester.  :icon_smile:

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Offline Al

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2008, 05:13:57 AM »
High clearance an Element is not.  They sit too low to the ground.

Al

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2008, 08:20:16 AM »
the most important thing to consider if purchasing a vehicle for the backroads is not 4wd or AWD, it's the clearance.   Clearance is everything, 4WD is luxury.

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Offline Undertaker

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2008, 08:37:24 AM »
I second that Casa Grande, have driven and continue to drive 4X4's, most of the time 4X4 not necessary, HIGH CLEARANCE is a MUST as well as high approach angle and departing  angle, a 4 wheel vehicle with low clearance is an air conditioned cabin (parked in place) when the bottom or differential hit the ground you are parked.
Visiting BB since 1966, nothing like being lost and finding heaven.

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Offline SA Bill

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2008, 12:27:14 PM »
6" lift kit??  :rolling:

Guess that isn't an option. I was afraid that the Element would be too low. Maybe a Subaru is a better choice after all?

What do you all think of the pop top for the Element? For me it might be a valid choice. Extra cost for it is around $4500.00 so it's definitely not something for everyone.
   Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline SA Bill

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2008, 02:01:44 PM »
Slightly modded....
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline SA Bill

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2008, 02:11:58 PM »
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2008, 02:40:08 PM »
This guy did RR in his Element...

http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44696

Quote
Although the Army Corp of Engineers is doing improvements on the road. not to paved but improving the rough character of it.

I think he might have driven it after the National Guard worked on it.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2008, 02:46:10 PM »
    Don't know about the Element, I'll leave that to the more experienced off pavement people.  I do think that if you
go to the expense of a pop-up conversion that it should be on a vehicle that you plan to run into the ground. That is
you plan to keep it until parts just can't be found locally any more. In my experience 15-20 yrs is about it. I'm not sure
what your resources are but I think that the more fiscally conservative option would be to pick a vehicle that will do
what you want and then either with the factory roof rack or an after market rack get a roof-top tent such as this
 
   It would give you more flexibility in changing vehicles, or if you end up liking the vehicle but not the pop top you have resale options.
When you are in an extended period between trips you wouldn't have to pay the extra gas money to haul it around town.
 You could also at some future date decide to mount the pop-up on a trailer. You would have to go outside the vehicle to open it up and climb in, but if you're not touring a rainy area like the pacific northwest,
that would seem to be a fair trade off. Bottom line is that you would have maximum flexibility and save some coin.

Fort Worth

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Offline madplanter

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2008, 03:33:34 PM »
clearance is king, but 4x4 is important, too.

AWD is  >>NOT<<  4x4

AWD lacks the gearing and power
of 4X4

.

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Offline Al

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2008, 04:39:22 PM »
If the vehicle you are buying is for everyday use and very occasional dirt road driving  and if you look at the cost of gas and the extra cost of the vehicle for the 4 wheel drive system you can't really justify it.  If you lived up north where there is snow and ice on the roads in winter you probably could but not around here.  So unless you are REALLY into the back road thing and money is no object, 4 wheel drive is not worth the cost especially if you are buying it just for the occasional Big Bend trip where 99% of the time all you need is high clearance in which case a compact truck is probably your best bang for the buck.  If you just have to have 4 wheel drive, the Jeep Patriot might be good combination of "Trail Rated" and cost/mileage.

Al

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Offline whickums

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2008, 09:16:18 PM »
This guy did RR in his Element...

http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44696

Oh my.... that silver Element in that guy's pictures is me and my husband!  We were on Grapevine Hills road.  I even remember that guy and his Element; he was just a few campsites away from us at Cottonwood.

Small world.

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Offline Undertaker

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2008, 09:57:47 AM »
None of the photos showing the Honda would prevent driving via regular vehicle, where was the photo off road taken, looks like might be park violation. In either case, the photos do not show Big Bends really rough roads.
Visiting BB since 1966, nothing like being lost and finding heaven.

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Offline whickums

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Re: Honda Element AWD on Back Roads?
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2008, 11:23:50 AM »
^
Well, I can tell you the one with us in it is Grapevine Hills.  That drive took us an hour to do until we finally reached the trail.

 


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