Watson, our Honda Element, is the consummate road trip vehicle. It is rock-solid reliable, it has plenty of room for suitcases and backpacks, the stadium seating gives kids in the back a decent view of the road ahead (decreasing the incidence of motion sickness), 39.1 inches of rear-seat legroom give the passengers plenty of room to spread their stuff out, and when we get home, the stain-resistant seat fabric and urethane-coated utility floor make it a breeze to clean up.
But there were two features of the Honda Element that we really came to appreciate while “on safari” in Yellowstone this year.
The Long Tailgate
The Honda Element has a “tailgate,” an automotive artifact usually only found on pickup trucks or certain motorized vehicles from the mid-twentieth century called “station wagons.” So named because it is located on the “tail” of the car and sometimes opens like a “gate,” many people see the tailgate as merely a cargo access and containment device.
But with a bowl of Honey Smacks in your hand and a crisp mountain breeze in your face, it is the perfect impromptu breakfast nook, complete with an unbeatable view of the sunrise at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, or the sunrise in front of the Yellowstone Lake Hotel, or the sunrise at Old Faithful…
I Had A Sunroof in Yellowstone
One of the difficulties you encounter while on safari is trying to view dangerous wildlife up close without meeting the same fate as the hapless photographer on the Yellowstone “Do Not Approach Buffalo” flyers.
Well, with the Honda Element this is no problem at all. Simply pop out the removable sunroof and you are Serengeti-ready.
Whenever wildlife makes an appearance, passengers in the back seat can unbuckle their safety belts (after the vehicle has come to a complete stop, of course), stand up on the rear seat, and while resting their bums on the rear headrests, survey the savannah with comfort and ease.
And it doesn’t matter what side of the vehicle the point of interest is on since everyone has a 360° view of the veldt.
If an especially photogenic specimen appears, the driver can simply hand his (or her) digital camera to someone on the wildlife observation deck for a bisons-eye view of the roadside attraction.
These are two very compelling features that Honda should be touting. Yet nowhere in the product literature is there a mention of either the “breakfast nook” or the “wildlife observation deck.” Sure, they list a “tailgate” and a “removable sunroof,” but perhaps it’s time for the Honda marketing department to start thinking outside the boxy car.