Skip to main content

A car is a major investment, so it’s great when you can drive one that can last for many miles and years. One might think that the newest vehicles are the most reliable, but that’s not always the case. This is shown by the Honda Element, the longest-lasting compact SUV. It’s the one most likely to last over 250,000 miles. However, the Element is now dead, for Honda discontinued it in 2011. It’s only available used. With its cult status, though, there’s a chance the Element could come back.

Honda Element is the longest-lasting compact SUV

Blue Honda Element, longest-lasting compact SUV, is dead and discontinued, but could come back
2007 Honda Element | Honda

When someone thinks of a reliable compact SUV that can last a long time, models like the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, or Honda CR-V might come to mind. However, it’s another Honda model that takes the crown: the Element

Recently, iSeeCars revealed its annual Longest-Lasting Cars study. According to the study, the Element is the most likely compact SUV to make it to 250,000 miles. It has a 27.8 chance of reaching the 250K mark. This is more than double the 11.8% average for all vehicles.

The second longest-lasting compact SUV is the Honda CR-V. The study shows that the CR-V has a 27.5% chance of making it to 250,000 miles.

Honda discontinued the Element in 2011

Suicide doors on Honda Element, longest-lasting compact SUV, is dead and discontinued, but could come back
2008 Honda Element | Honda

On the one hand, it’s unsurprising that a Honda vehicle like the Element is the longest-lasting compact SUV, given the automaker’s much-deserved reputation for reliability. However, what’s unexpected is how this honor is for a model that’s now dead. It’s a blast from the past.

Also, with its distinctive boxy shape, the Element is quite different from other Honda SUVs. While Honda vehicles tend to have conservative styling, the automaker went in a unique direction with the longest-lasting compact SUV.

Honda built the Element, which was sold between 2003-2011, to appeal to adventure-seeking young drivers. Its design was inspired by a lifeguard station, and its curved roof resembles a surfboard. However, the Element never caught on, and the sales were relatively low. When it was sold, Honda buyers still preferred SUVs with a more traditional shape.

With the low sales, Honda killed the Element. Also, it was replaced by the second-generation HR-V, which debuted for the 2013 model year. The HR-V was previously discontinued in 2006. After its return, it went on to be a big success. Could history repeat with the longest-lasting compact SUV?

The Element has a cult status: Could Honda bring it back?

Since its discontinuation, the Element has achieved a cult status, sparking rumors of an eventual return. One of the reasons for its continued popularity — as well as longevity — is that many drivers use it as a camper. It has suicide doors, which enable a wide opening at the sides of the vehicle.

Also, the seats easily fold down flat and can function as a bed. You go camping and sleep in it — without having to pitch a tent or buy a camping trailer. Also, some owners outfitted the SUV with a large sunroof over the cargo area for a great view of the sky above. 

Additionally, the Element is great for dog owners and dog walkers. The large cargo area can fit multiple dogs, and the wide opening from the suicide doors makes it easy to enter and exit the vehicle. Plus, the floors are plastic and stain-resistant, which is helpful for cleaning up messes. 

Furthermore, it’s appealing for DIY enthusiasts. You can outfit the walls with shelving. Also, the seats can be completely removed to convert the SUV into a workplace for projects. And again, the washable floors come in handy.

As shown by the continued success of the Kia Soul, there’s demand for unique, boxy-shaped SUVs. This is another reason why the distinctive Honda SUV deserves a second chance.

While Honda hasn’t officially stated whether it will bring the Element back, recently, there have been loud rumors of its return — possibly as an electric vehicle, per AutoInfluence

Could the Honda Element come back from the dead? Only time will tell. However, with outstanding reliability and longevity, used models will likely still be on the road for a long time. As revealed in the iSeeCars study, the Element is the longest-lasting compact SUV.


SUV Most Likely to Last 250,000 Miles Is Iconic Toyota Killed in America