Home » Cleveland Crossovers: 2006 Saturn Vue vs 2006 Honda Element

Cleveland Crossovers: 2006 Saturn Vue vs 2006 Honda Element

Sbsd 2 1 23

Good morning, Autopians, and welcome to the middle of the week, and the start of a new month! Today’s search takes us to Cleveland, which, as I understand it, rocks. But first, let’s see which beat-up toy you chose as your fourth car yesterday:

Screen Shot 2023 01 31 At 6.03.56 Pm

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Yeah, I figured the title thing might scare some folks off the Mini. But I also notice that the seller has already knocked a grand off the asking price.  For $1,900, for something tiny and speedy to mess around with, I think I’d go for the Mini, as much as I adore first-gen Neons.

And now for something less fun, but more practical. Today we’re looking at two four-cylinder crossover SUVs, and since it has become something of a theme this week, both are banged up a bit. Here they are.

2006 Saturn Vue – $1,700

00d0d Ksdsjdzxu2j 0ci0t2 1200x900


Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD

Location: Cleveland, OH

Odometer reading: 181,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep!

Once upon a time, Saturn made a wagon version of their S-series cars. But when the S gave way to the Ion, the wagon didn’t come along for the ride. The wagon’s place in the lineup was filled by the Vue, a small crossover. The base model, like this one, shared the 2.2 liter Ecotec four and five-speed Getrag manual with the Ion, offered only with front-wheel-drive. AWD Vues were automatic-only and powered by a 3.5 liter V6 from, of all places, Honda.


00f0f If0v7lhpfrm 0ci0t2 1200x900

This Vue is not only a stick, but also green, and a good shade of green at that. The seller says it “runs well” and is “mechanically fine,” but doesn’t elaborate. This engine/transmission combo has a good reputation, but a little more detail would be nice. I think the front bumper may be a little bit out of whack, but not badly. And the inside is grubby around the edges, but serviceable.

00c0c 4t3zhjmm2f7 0ci0t2 1200x900

It would be nice to see it without all the ice and snow all over it, but I get it: sometimes you need to sell a car, and the weather doesn’t cooperate. Seventeen hundred dollars seems like a good deal for this car, and I imagine some of you will choose it solely because it’s a manual, but I also imagine that it’s a tougher sell to the general public for the same reason. Sometimes we enthusiasts forget that shifting gears is a chore for most people, not a perk.

00p0p Tiexbbxuju 0ci0t2 1200x900


Boxy little crossovers like this are hard to find these days; everything has sloped rear windows and rounded corners. Me, I like this upright square shape better; it looks purposeful.

2006 Honda Element – $1,900

00o0o Bvbx01jrtlg 0x20om 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 2.4 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, four-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Lorain, OH

Odometer reading: 236,000 miles


Runs/drives? Sure does

Speaking of boxy and upright, how about Honda’s bizarre crossover, the Element? With its neoprene seats, suicide rear doors, and over-the-top plastic cladding, the Element is one of those love-it-or-hate-it cars. I’ve never understood why it got less hate than the equally bizarre Pontiac Aztek. Maybe it’s because the Element succeeded where the Aztek failed.

00r0r 4osm9udlgpr 0x20om 1200x900

This Element has lost an altercation with something, and it cost it an eye. The impact was enough to total the car and earn it a salvage title, but the seller says it drives fine, so the damage is likely cosmetic. A new headlight is about eighty bucks from Rock Auto, and a little work with a hammer and a crowbar will straighten out the radiator support and get the hood closing a little better. For a car this cheap, a branded title and a few battle scars aren’t a big deal.

00o0o 37328r9a58i 0x20om 1200x900


The Element’s big parlor trick is its doors, which are hinged fore and aft with no pillar in the middle, to create a gaping opening on either side of the car. It provides great access, though I know from experience that it can be awkward in tight parking spots: the doors themselves can block access to the opening. And sadly, the Element lacks one cool feature that its sister model, the CR-V, featured: a fold-out picnic table. (If the Element had such a thing, I suppose it would be called a periodic table?)

00q0q J2uwuuwi5ev 0x20om 1200x900

This car has a pile of miles on it – nearly a quarter million – and is only front-wheel-drive, both of which make it a less-desirable Element even without the body damage. But it’s no less useful for lacking all-wheel-drive, and Honda engines seem to run forever, so I would imagine this car still has some life left in it, after a little plastic surgery.

That will do it for Wednesday, the first of February. Two quirky four-cylinder front-drive crossovers, both in need of a little love, but both solid still. Which one will it be?


(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago

The manual is a huge advantage for the Vue, but the Honda, even with the damage, is a steal at that price in 2023, as long as it’s not rusted out.
Elements go for ridiculous prices, so to get one for less than two grand (assuming it’s in decent shape) and replacing the front bumper, hood and headlight and straightening a bit of metal is a pretty good deal. Since no one will want it as is, the seller can probably be talked down a few hundred bucks, which would cover the replacement junkyard hood. Another hundred fifty for a good detail and you’re good to go, assuming there are no mechanical problems that were unaddressed when the fender bender happened.
The Vue isn’t awful, but it lacks soul and uniqueness, and it suffers from GM cheapness, other than the Honda engine.

Timothy Swanson
Timothy Swanson
1 year ago

A 2003 VUE was our first family car, then our commuter after that. We drove it 12 years and 130K miles, and it was reliable for us, after a couple gremlins fixed under warranty in the first year. We intentionally got the stick shift and the 2.2. It was a fun car to drive, in that cheap runabout sort of way – a bit of torque steer, buzzy engine at the red line. A VUE in good condition, and with the stick? I’d get this for one of my college kids.

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
1 year ago

Buy the Saturn, install a rollcage, and take it racing in the 24 hours of lemons. Would almost certainly go home with a trophy.

Justin Short
Justin Short
1 year ago

Clean, green, row your own machine!

That’s my VUE!

1 year ago

The beautiful blue Honda! Also shout out to Bone Thugs n’ Harmony! (Favorite rap group) Cleveland…definitely…in tha house!!!

David Reynolds
David Reynolds
1 year ago

The Lovely Wife had a Vue when we got married. Same color. 4cyl with the five speed. Wasn’t bad to drive.


After the third clutch in less than 100k miles because the slave cylinders kept exploding it was sent packing.

And that’s why I chose the Honda.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

This would be a tough call if this was an ’08 or newer. I love the Element, and nearly bought an ’06 AWD a few years ago. It had only 80k on it and was only 6 grand! What a steal!

But then I learned that before the refresh, the Element had no side impact air bags. With no B-pillar between the front and rear doors the crash test videos are… well I wouldn’t seek them out if you want to buy a pre-refresh Element. I have young kids and the lack of resistance makes side impact seem like certain death for the rear passengers. I have grown fond of them, so I’m glad I passed on it.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x