The 2006 Honda Element with the 4 cylinder engine was my friend Wills car/ weekend home before he felt the need for bigger. Before he listed it I took a quick trip to Moab, UT and met up with him and his current girlfriend, Larissa, to drive around on a rainy day and take photos of the incredible waterfalls in the surrounding canyons. Later that day was the first time I drove the Element and I fell in love with the car! comfy, 24mpg, AND HAS A BED IN THE BACK?! YES. PLEASE.
Through all of my parents persuasion to get a different car I was stubborn and stuck it out till I sold my current car, a 2009 Jeep Wrangler, and bought the Element from Will. Best decision I ever made. 1 year, two bed setups, and 30,000 miles later we (my car and I) were on our way to Bishop, California; the second best decision I ever made! Buttermilk road reeked havoc on the current bed setup… Picture this: Plywood supported by three steel pipes and a modified bedside drawer from the one and only IKEA* to support the final corner. The drawer did not make it through buttermilk road in one piece…
With plenty of duct tape and organizing gear to support the broken and quickly deteriorating drawer we made it from January 8th through January 25th in Bishop, then to Joshua Tree, California into early February where I developed a quite debilitating stomach issue where eating would leave me effectively crippled in the back of my car. This pain slowly decreased to only once a day, so I was still being mentally tortured by the idea of eating food, thankfully some certain herbs brought back the ability to eat and make the pain manageable.
Through some sort of stupidity I made it to Yosemite in early February and finally back home to Salt Lake City on February 12! I took the down time while my stomach issues were being sorted out to rebuild the barely standing bed in the back of the Element. Bombproof was the goal and bombproof is what I made! Thick, sturdy, and probably too expensive of plywood made the top of the bed. An Issue with the last setup was organization, as the previous organization was limited to plastic tubs and a single, broken IKEA drawer*. The new design now featured a large wooden ~3.5’ x ~ 4.5’ x ~2’ tub covered my a two hinging design in the bed itself as to be able to access the tub from the top. Later two holes were cut into the sides of this tub for some quick access points. One in the front as to be accessible from the front seats, and another on the passenger side as a side entry. As another part of storage I built a pantry/ cutlery drawer hanging below the back (tailgate end) of the bed. Under this area I decided to not cover the floor there with any permanent fixtures as that was the access for my spare tire. While in Yosemite National Park I took a shard of glass to the back left tire and had to use a friends spare since my current setup blocked access to my spare tire! SO the lesson here is: Forethought, its important.
The next important adventure was Joes Valley, UT. While I doubted the Elements ability to drive the rough, washed out dirt road into New Joes, it somehow made it way through every obstacle and rough hill… So the name Thomas was born, the little engine that could. Like the train… lol
Thomas will one day be sold so I can have a space to move under a roof when its raining. I typically have three choices: Lay down in bed, sit up front, or head to a coffee shop on the rainy days. Cant wait
*IKEA furniture is in no way made to handle life in the back of a car that frequents bumpy dirt roads and the speed bumps that are seemingly everywhere I go. Take it as a lesson from me, IKEA drawers were designed to be frustratingly built and left for years and years in a stationary location, not a location that moves, everywhere…
Why I love the Honda Element
Spacious interior = lots of storage
24 mpg, better than the 15 so many vans get…
Manual transmission. I prefer it.
Moonroof. See the stars at night/ ventilation!
Bed size is almost a full size mattress.
Van like front seating, nice and upright/ spacious
That honda engine life… Take care of it and it’ll go!
Suicide rear doors make for easy access!