The 4-seat Element is optimized to carry large loads. The floor is made of textured urethane that is easy to clean; the fabric is tough and stain-resistant; the individual rear seats recline, fold up, and are removable. The rear clamshell tailgate arrangement is large and the vehicle is tall, allowing large loads.
The rear side doors are not suicide doors, despite that they open backwards; Honda refers to the rear doors as rear access panels. The design forgoes B-pillars to create unobstructed access for side loading. In return, the chassis features reinforced joints, strengthened lower side sills, larger cross members, enlarged rocker panels, and five bulkheads per side.
Powering the Element is Honda's 2.4Liter K Engine, an i-VTEC four-cylinder engine producing 166hp (124kW) at 5500rpm and 160ft·lbf (217N·m) of torque at 4500rpm.
The Element is available with front-wheel drive or Honda's optional "Real Time" four-wheel drive system — a hydraulically-actuated system that operates only when front wheel slippage occurs. Four wheel drive was discontinued in Japan with the 2006 model.
- Colors available: Sunset Orange Pearl, Shoreline Mist Metallic, Satin Silver Metallic, Nighthawk Black Pearl, Galapagos Green Metallic, and Eternal Blue Pearl
- The 2003 Element was launched with two trim levels — DX and EX.
- Four-wheel drive models come with a large rear sunroof.
- A service bulletin was release regarding the windshield flange surface being uneven. This bulletin along with the warranty obligated Honda of America to replace the windshield at no cost to the owner.
- The class action Daniels, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. reached final settlement November 16, 2006. It provides for warranty replacement of windshields in 2003 and 2004 model Honda Element for 6 years or 60,000miles.
- Colors available: Fiji Blue Pearl replaced Eternal Blue Pearl from the previous year.
- The LX model was introduced with more standard features. Improvements were made to the front seats as well as the inclusion of an armrest for the passenger's side captain's chair.
- The class action law case Daniels, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. reached final settlement November 16, 2006. It provides for warranty replacement of windshields in 2003 and 2004 model Honda Element for 6 years or 60,000miles.