2009 Honda Element - Looking for 40 MPG

I am in the market for a new vehicle and need help. My husband wants at least 40mph, and I would rather live when I hit a deer during my 100-mile/day commute. We live in South Dakota, so it has to be winter friendly, and also be able to carry my kayak in the summer. Currently I drive a Honda Element, which I love, but I’m “putting too many miles on” for my husband to inherit, so I need to find a replacement vehicle. I don’t want a car, because I like sitting up a little higher. I want decent gas mileage, but realize 40mph is probably not doable. Can anyone help?

All road legal vehicles will do 40 mph. Oh wait , you meant 40 mpg . I would suggest the Kia Soul . But just start going to all the manufactures web sites , there you will find prices and specifications . You might even find something that you did not even know existed.

Good news. You have at least three perfect options for 40 MPG in a vehicle that will do all things you want to do. And the price is not bad either. Similar to what a well-equipped Element might cost were it still available today. The first is the all-new Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD . Next, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Both are standard with AWD. Finally, the RAV4 Prime AWD Plug-in hybrid arriving this summer. 94 MPGe. The “e” refers to the ability to drive for a while on just electricity (42 miles). When not using the electric drive the Prime still gets 40 MPG. One interesting footnote: Both of these vehicles presently have a cost for energy competitive with battery- electric vehicles (meaning only electric drive) their size.


In addition to the CR-V and RAV4, for a few dollars more the Lexus UX 250h has a fuel economy rating of 42 MPG for the front wheel drive, 39 MPG for the AWD. The Lexus UX 200 has a rating of 29 city, 37 highway, starting at $32,300. The UX is not a low rider like the typical sedan, it is between a car and a small SUV with reasonable road clearance.

How many miles a year do you put on? then you cn calculate an suv vs econo car as far as gas cost and that may help make a decision. We got a 21 Highway mpg vehicle but are usually 8000 miles a year. So at $4 a gallon we would save $720 a year if I calculate correctly. We need to tow a boat and pack a whole lot of stuff and $720 a year is not a deal breaker for us.

The OP lives in South Dakota and has a 100 miles a day commute. A complicated Hybrid might not have easy to access service facilities so that might not be a good choice.


If I lived in a place like South Dakota, I think I would want a very “conventional” vehicle that could be readily repaired by the local mechanic, rather than a very sophisticated hybrid.

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I’d have no problem getting the Rav4, Toyota has done great for many years with their hybrid reliability. I’d avoid the Honda because of their poor hybrid track record. Here’s a comparison, the Rav4 did better in this test:

While neither one got 40 mpg, the Rav4 got close (37 mpg) on the 75 mph highway test:
“While our example’s 32-mpg return on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test is 4 mpg greater than the standard CR-V could manage, that figure is 3 mpg shy of the hybrid’s EPA figure and 5 mpg less than what a 2019 RAV4 hybrid returned in the same test.”


Unless your husband pays for your fuel, I’d tell him to pound sand.

Why would it be difficult to get a hybrid seviced in South Dakota? I’ve been there on vacation and they have good roads, cities, restaurants and all the trappings of civilization, including dealerships and mechanics that can say more than just “ugh”. I rather like the place.


I agree. It’s got developed areas as well as farmland , like most states.

It also has only two season’s July and winter.

Around my place it’s our money, not his and hers.

For @TracyHummel:

All of the following is 2WD. If you want AWD, you can get those estimates, too. The Lexus UX 250h is the only SUV that meets your gas mileage requirement for 40 mpg highway. Its cit/highway/combined mileage is 43/41/42. Others are close, and the Lexus is likely expensive enough that the gas expense won’t make up the difference in purchase price. The Ford Escape comes in at 44/37/41. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is larger, yet still Still comes in at 36/35/36. You can find all the EPA estimates at fueleconomy.gov. Click on Advanced Cars and Fuels at the top and then click on Compare Side by Side under Hybrids. I picked the SUV market class and selected 35 for all MPG categories.

I’m with Keith. There are seven Toyota dealerships in South Dakota. Normal maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, brake service, and cabin and engine air filter changes can be done by any local garage. The OP had a Honda prior to this, and Honda has four dealerships by my count.

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I’m with Keith. There are seven Toyota dealerships in South Dakota. Normal maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, brake service, and cabin and engine air filter changes can be done by any local garage. The OP had a Honda prior to this, and Honda has four dealerships by my count.

Depends on where the OP lives, Better selection of dealers in Sioux Falls than Vermilion where my relatives live. The 60 or so mile drive doesn’t stop them from buying a succession of Subaru’s though. Heated seats are an essential item in winter there.

South Dakota is one of my 50 favorite places in the world.

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I keep hoping Honda will overcome their hybrid history, but for now the reliability of Toyota’s hybrids beats everyone else’s. The Prius, for example, is one of the most reliable and durable cars ever.


Two great points.

From my experience with Honda’s hybrid technology, as of 2019 they seem to be still clueless about building a reliable hybrid, so I would avoid Honda.

I would vote to add Prius as one of contenders, as it has surprisingly good mix of good fuel economy, utility and not that low ride, it is also available with “AWD-e”, which is probably the most what is needed for the person who never goes off the paved roads.

That’s complete hyperbole. They also have hunting season, football season, and baseball season.