Four weeks ago today, my trusty Subaru bit the dust - driving my daughter to soccer, I was t-boned by an SUV going 45, hitting us in the left rear quarter panel. Both my kids were in the car with me, so needless to say I was scared s*#&-less. Luckily, everyone walked away from the crash, and the only injuries sustained were slight bonks on the left sides of both my daughter's and my foreheads where we had crashed into the side of the car when we got hit from the left.
That was a pretty big impact. Luckily, he hit us far enough back that we spun out - that absorbed a good bit of energy. And then there's the marvel of modern automotive engineering - if you look at this picture, it's hard to believe we had that kind of collision. What you can't see in the picture, though, is that while the rear door opened just fine, the wheel is at about a 30 degree angle, and the trunk section is completely offset (the tailgate was actually forced open by that) at about a 15 degree angle. And underneath the car, the energy from the crash was then absorbed by suspension and drive train parts. This all made for no intrusion whatsoever into the passenger space, but it did create enough damage to where the insurance company decided to total it out.
This was a bit of a bummer, as we hadn't really been planning for the financial impact (the Subie was slated for replacement two or three years down the road). But as of a couple weeks ago, I now have a new windsurfing (and commuting and family) vehicle. Looking for something a bit more spacious inside than the Subie, but with reasonable mileage, and placing really high importance on excellent crash test scores (go figure...), I landed on a Honda Element:
What I like about the Element:
- Insanely nice power-train (that has to be the nicest 4 cylinder on the planet...)
- Lots of interior space in a very compact package.
- Very practical and versatile interior - you can wash the surfaces, configure the seats to allow camping, hauling of gear, etc. - it will even fit my Formula gear!
- It's plain fun (my kids are beside themselves)
- It drives very nicely - pretty nimble, smooth, and great handling considering how tall it is.
- Reasonably good mileage (mid-20's).
- Low maintenance and really nice build quality, along with all kinds of very thoughtful little features (it is a Honda, after all) - it just works.
- Tows my trailer very well (it's got roughly the same wheelbase as my old Subie, but a lot less rear overhang, so there's less leverage for the trailer to be jerking it around - you can really feel the difference)
- Top marks in crash testing and a whole plethora of airbags all around, along with all kinds of other safety goodies (like stability control)
- 4wd just like the Subie - so no need to put on chains when going skiing at Baker in a snowstorm.