You know something’s up when a car manufacturer decides to leave out vivacious models in favor for a pair of dogs to showcase their new vehicle.
Honda’s Lego-looking Element SUV was on-hand at the LA Auto Show and instead of the traditional eye candy posing with the vehicle, they had Luna and Toby – a pair of dogs – posing for the cameras inside the Element’s innovative Dog Friendly System.
The Dog Friendly System, which is available for an extra $995 on any 2010 Honda Element, is, according to Honda, “a pet accommodation system designed to improve safety, comfort and convenience for dogs and their owners alike."
The DFS features, among other things, a nylon kennel, a ramp, a small 12-volt ventilation fan, a cushioned bed, a spill-proof water dish, seat covers, and rubber floor mats with a bone motif. In other words, it’s as close as you can get to a mobile dog palace.
We have to give credit to Honda for this brilliant new system, especially in a time where we’re all hesitant to bring our dogs along in our cars in the event that they mess the upholstery.
Press release after the jump.
2010 Honda Element Goes to the Dogs
Much-anticipated "Dog Friendly" equipment adds to diverse Element lineup
10/09/2009 - TORRANCE, Calif. -
The Honda Element lineup expands for the 2010 model year with an all-new "Dog Friendly™" pet accommodation system designed to improve safety, comfort and convenience for dogs and their owners alike, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. The 2010 Honda Element arrives at dealerships nationwide by mid-October. The Dog Friendly Element is set to become available on November 16.
"The Honda Element has long been recognized as an accommodating vehicle for people with active lifestyles involving sports and hobbies," said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of Product Planning for American Honda. "The new Dog Friendly Element takes that concept to a whole new level with specially designed features for dogs and their owners."
Engineered to integrate with factory precision into the Element EX, the Dog Friendly equipment is intended to accommodate the secure transportation of a dog in the cargo area within a nylon-webbed car kennel. In daily operation the car kennel helps prevent a dog from interfering with the driver in traffic by keeping the pet properly restrained and out of reach of the driver. In the event of a frontal collision, the kennel is intended to help restrain the dog behind the rear seats, reducing the chance for the pet to be injured - or to injure human occupants during a crash.
The Dog Friendly equipment enhances pet comfort by providing a soft floor surface for the dog’s legs and paws along with a dedicated fan and a spill resistant water source. Convenience is improved for owners with an integrated ramp, easy to clean surfaces and a full suite of matching Dog Friendly accoutrements.
Major components include:
* a soft-sided cargo area car kennel made from seat belt-grade netting;
* a cushioned pet bed in the cargo area with an elevated platform;
* a 12V DC rear ventilation fan;
* second-row seat covers with a dog pattern design (matches the bed fabric);
* an extendable ramp (stores under the pet bed platform);
* all-season rubber floor mats with a toy bone pattern;
* a spill-resistant water bowl; and
* Dog Friendly exterior emblems (driver’s side and rear).
The ramp stores underneath the bed platform and can be conveniently accessed when the rear tailgate is down. The car kennel was designed and is being constructed by Takata Corporation, one of the world’s leading automotive safety systems suppliers. The Dog Friendly equipment group has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $995.
Already designed to be people friendly, the Honda Element received numerous upgrades for the 2009 model year that included a new exterior appearance and a refreshed interior design. Three unique Element models are available that range from the rugged and simple Element LX, to the more refined Element EX, to the sporty Element SC. The Dog Friendly equipment group is designed exclusively for the Element EX trim level.
The Element offers an easy-to-clean urethane floor (carpeted on SC) and an expansive, flat cargo area (up to 74.6 cu-ft. with rear seats removed), wide-opening side cargo doors, low lift-in height, and accommodating dimensions for tall items. The interior provides seating for four people along with a cargo area that quickly adapts to large items with its flip-up rear seats that fold flat, fold up and to the side, or can be removed altogether (64-plus seating arrangements).
The Element LX and EX have a water resistant urethane-coated utility floor that quickly wipes down and seat fabric that resists moisture. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and keyless entry.
All Element models feature a 2.4-liter i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Real Time 4WD™, available on the Element LX and EX, enhances all-weather traction. EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings1 range from 20/25 mile per gallon for two-wheel-drive models and 19/24 miles per gallon for Real Time 4WD models.
The Element LX comes standard with a 4-speaker AM/FM audio system with a CD player. The Element EX and SC feature a 270-watt high-output audio system, an AM/FM tuner, CD player with MP3/WMA™2 capability, auxiliary audio input for MP3 players or other audio devices, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, seven speakers including a 6.5-inch subwoofer. XM® Radio3 is standard on the Element EX and SC.
The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System is an available feature on the Element EX and includes a rear backup camera and a USB audio interface4. The navigation system features a 6.5-inch motorized display that opens and closes for access to an internal single-disc CD player and a digital audio card reader.
Numerous storage bins and beverage holders provide places for cell phones, CDs and drinks. Available storage areas include: a large three-bin tray above the glove box (ideal for mobile phones and portable music players); a modular 3-compartment overhead storage bin (EX, SC); seat back storage (EX, SC); six hooks for strapping down bikes or other bulky gear; and door storage pockets on all four doors. The Element EX exclusively has a convertible center console with a removable cooler/storage box.
The Element SC provides a unique appearance with street custom-inspired styling, a lowered stance and exclusive premium features. Its exterior styling exhibits a performance-oriented attitude with a monochromatic color scheme and exclusive features that include custom front and rear painted bumpers, large alloy wheels, custom grille, and a lowered stance. The lowered stance is achieved by lowering the ride height and by using uniquely shaped painted side sills and slimmer roof moldings.
Element SC interior appointments include passenger-area carpeting, a fixed center console with storage, piano black trim pieces and unique fabrics and patterns. The exclusive center console integrates the auxiliary audio input jack and two beverage holders. Meter styling color on all Element SC models is copper-hue, replacing the blue backlit illumination on the other models.
The Element’s fully independent suspension uses a front MacPherson strut design and a rear compact double wishbone design for responsive handling and a comfortable ride. A 101.4-inch wheelbase contributes to a compact exterior size. An ultra-tight turning diameter of 34.9-feet (36.9-feet, Element SC) provides for excellent maneuverability in tight quarters. Element LX and EX models are equipped with 16-inch wheels (steel on LX, alloy on EX) with all-season P215/70R16 tires. Additional LX and EX standard features include power rack-and-pinion steering and front and rear stabilizer bars (30.0x4.5 mm tubular front / 21.0 mm solid rear).
The Element SC adds 18-inch alloy wheels, P225/55R18 tires, exclusive spring and damper tuning (30 percent firmer), a lowered ride height (approximately 0.7 inches) and increased rear stabilizer bar size (25.0 mm, solid). Compared to Element LX and EX, the solid front stabilizer bar is 25 percent stiffer and the rear stabilizer bar is 30 percent stiffer. The steering gear box also provides a 6 percent faster ratio (2.94:1 compared to 3.26:1).
All Element models have an aluminum Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) engine that produces 166-horsepower at 5800 rpm and 161 lb-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. The Element’s i-VTEC variable valve timing system enhances low rpm torque while also delivering high rpm horsepower. The five-speed automatic transmission features Grade Logic Control to minimize "gear hunting" on hilly roads.
Available on Element LX and EX, the Real Time 4WD system aids traction in snow, rain and sand by sending power to the rear wheels when the front drive wheels experience a traction loss.
Standard safety equipment includes: Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), commonly referred to as electronic stability control; a pedestrian safety design in the front of the vehicle; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor; front side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); active front seat head restraints; an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist; and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and active front seat head restraints.
The Element is assembled in Ohio at the Honda of America Mfg., Inc., East Liberty Auto Plant using domestic and globally sourced parts.
1Based on 2010 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
2Windows Media® Audio is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
3Required XM Radio subscription sold separately after 90-day trial period. Subscriptions are governed by the XM Customer Agreement available at xmradio.com/serviceterms. Other fees and taxes apply after trial period; see XM Customer Agreement for details. Fees and programming subject to change. Service not available in Canada, Alaska, or Hawaii. © 2009 SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. SIRIUS, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. and its subsidiaries.
4The USB Audio Interface is used for direct connection to and control of some current digital audio players and other USB devices that contain MP3, WMA or AAC music files. Some USB devices with security software and digital rights-protected files may not work. Please see your dealer for details on compatibility.