Should You Take the Honda Element Off Road?

The Honda Element is capable of going off-road as long as you’re not going too deep.
Written by Brad Marley
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The 2011
Honda Element
was the last year of the car’s production. While it certainly wasn’t built for off-roading, it can handle reasonably well if you want to take it off the beaten path for camping adventures.
When you think of the boxy look of the Honda Element, off-road adventures don’t immediately come to mind. But as long as you are not looking for extreme trips into the wilderness, the Element will hold up on its own.
, the
super app
that saves drivers money on
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and more, is here to break down the off-road specs of the Honda Element. We will look at factors that all off-road enthusiasts want to know about, like ground clearance and torque. We’ll also share some alternatives you may want to consider.
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Can the Honda Element go off-road?

Technically speaking, yes. If you want to tow a boat to a campsite, you can do that with the Honda Element. But this car was built to be a commuter car—and with an engine that isn’t going to blow you away, you’re probably better off sticking to paved streets.
With all of that said, the word that keeps coming up when describing the off-road capabilities is “decent.” So if you want something that’s an average off-road vehicle, the Honda Element might be up your alley. And with a starting used price of $5,664 (according to Edmunds), it’s not going to break the bank.
Since we’re here, let’s go over some of the key specs.

Ground clearance

If you want to go off-road, you need ground clearance. The higher the number, the better. In the case of the Honda Element, its ground clearance checks in at 6.9 inches, which is just taller than a crisp dollar bill standing straight up. 
In a perfect world, ground clearance should be at least 8.8 inches—higher if you want ideal off-roading ability. The higher the clearance, the more room you have to operate without worry. The
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
, for instance, operates at 8.6 inches with standard suspension but gets bumped up to 10.7 inches with optional air suspension. A few inches can make a big difference.


Any off-road vehicle worth its salt should be hopped up on low-end torque. In other words, high amounts of torque at low rpm. Since turning power is more important than speed when you’re off of pavement, you need low-end torque to have a good on-trail experience.
The 2011 Honda Element has 161 lb-ft of torque and spits out 166 horsepower. It’s not the highest level of power you can get, so you may want to look elsewhere for more.


The 2011 Honda Element comes standard with P215/70R16 tires. That’s a lot of numbers, so let’s break it down. 
If you want to go off-road, you need all-terrain tires—and these tires are not all-terrain. But the Honda Element will still handle pretty well in snow or off-road conditions due to the vehicle’s weight and shape. Along with the front-wheel drive and traction control, the Element will surprise you. But the tires do it no favor.


If you want to drive off-road, you need all-wheel drive. Thankfully, the 2011 Honda Element has all-wheel drive available on the LX and EX trim levels


Off-roading is all about angles:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The 2011 Honda Element’s approach angle is 25.6 degrees, while the departure angle is 26.3. If you want an effective off-road vehicle, an approach angle of not less than 28 degrees is recommended while the departure angle should be high, as well. 
While the Honda Element’s numbers aren’t great, they are pretty decent for a vehicle that doesn’t live off of the road.

Off-road rating: In a Pinch

We’ve rated the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road using
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The 2011 Honda Element earns an I rating: you can take it off-road in a pinch, but you shouldn’t buy it solely as an off-road vehicle. You can get by on most dirt roads and level trails but look for something else if you want to take on the best of what the country has to offer.

The best off-road alternatives to the 2011 Honda Element

If you want something built for going off-road, the Honda Element shouldn’t be your first choice. The price isn’t terrible—it’s around $5,650 for a used version—but its sole purpose is not driving off of the highway. 
If you want something geared more toward adventure, here are a couple of the best alternatives.
Best affordable alternative
2010 Kia Borrego
Full body-on-frame can hold seven passengers easily while offering a choice of V-6 or V-8.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2011 Jeep Cherokee
The Off-Road Adventure II packages comes with a V-8, skid plates, full-size spare & off-road tires
MORE: Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

If you own an off-road vehicle, expect to pay more for car insurance since damage is assumed when you drive it off of main roads. Even if you have the best specifications, insurance companies are going to charge you a higher rate.
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