Best Car for Tall People: The Honda Element 24


The Honda Element has a Vision Line Height (VLH) of 46-5/8″. To the best of my knowledge, the only car on the North American market that beat this are the Ford Econoline E-series full sized vans, the Ford Transit Connect and the pre 2007 Scion XBs. Note when I say car I am not including RVs and commercial vehicles.

I didn’t want a city slicker street box or a gas guzzling behemoth, so the Honda Element made the most sense of the three for me. Besides the large VSL, the interior is spacious in general. The roof extends well above the already high roofline, and though this may not result in increased visibility, it diminishes the usual claustrophobia caused by the roof being too close to ones head. Furthermore, the tall doors make for easy entrance and exit for the tall person.

Some loath the vehicle, perhaps because it’s the furthest thing around from fitting the sleek fast car or the tough truck profiles. However others adore it for its uncompromising function over form approach. With its seating versatility, open cargo space, wide opening barn doors, tailgate, washable floors, optional all wheel drive, optional manual transmission, and efficient 4 cylinder engine, it is the dream vehicle for those who love car camping, dogs, transporting stuff, biking, or adventures of all sorts.

The Honda Element: tall people, biking, car camping, dogs, cargo

For me, I feel extremely lucky that one of the top three automobiles for VSL also happens to be, in my opinion, the most versatile vehicle on the market.

Alas, form wins out over function; the Honda Element was discontinued in 2011. I’m thinking I better hoard a few. I better not let on just how precious these vehicles are… oops…


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24 thoughts on “Best Car for Tall People: The Honda Element

  • Mags

    I'm 6' 3'' and have to tall adapt. My car is a 2001 Honda CRV which I just barely fit in. After years of sitting on a dining chair cushion to try to fudge my leg room I finally fabricated some steel brackets which lift the front of the driver's seat and create more length for my lower legs between the end of the seat and the pedals. This worked fantastic for me… like replacing old worn out shoes. My car finally fits me. I also modified my rear view mirror for the exact reasons you mentioned in an earlier post. Luckily my mirror, which hangs on a bracket mounted above the windshield glass, was easily pivoted 180 degrees towards the interior of the car, which raised it up to the same height as the visors.

    • Tall Adaptations

      Scion XB is a great car! I assume you have pre 2007 when it was a taller box? Any chance you could measure the roofline height for me? I had measured it a while ago, but not so confident in my measurement…

  • Anonymous

    I just discovered your blog after browsing the MTBR forums. I thought I would chime in with my experience working at a used car lot. I have driven a lot of cars and 90% of them seem to be designed for extremely short people (under 6').

    I'm 6'6" and have trouble fitting in both the Element and Xb due to a lack of leg/knee space. You are spot on about the versatility of the Element! I suppose a seat bracket to get an extra 2" of leg room would make it a perfect fit for me.

    I seem to be most comfortable in German cars. The 2012+ VW Passat (with no sunroof) has an incredible amount of room. Currently I have a Mercedes S55 which could use a bit more head room but has excellent front and rear leg room. My wife has a 2011 VW Jetta (no sunroof) which has an incredible amount of space for a small car.

    • Tall Adaptations

      I definitely need to get to a VW car lot, can't believe I haven't yet, given Germans are so tall. For that matter, got to look into what the Dutch drive!

      Nice to have feedback from a tall person who has sold cars!

  • Anonymous

    I'm 6'5'' with 1 meter inseam ( 6' 7'' leg – short torso ) and I love my Scion TC ( not Xb ) . I put four 6 '' bracket to extend the rearmost seat position and the steering with his standard rearmost position is very comfortably reachable . Don't be fool by the roofline of that TC .

    • Tall Adaptations

      If vertical space isn't an issue, then your options open way up. Consider though that a higher roofline would allow you to put your seat in a higher position, which is easier for those with tighter hamstrings. Did you make your own seat extensions? I tried that and failed miserably…

  • Anonymous

    This is a great website and a really interesting blog. Thanks a lot. I am "only" 6'4" and I have my share of experiences with bad cars as well. For me it is not only the leg & head room and roof line. I also have an issue with most seats having a backrest which is too short. In 2001 i got an Isuzu Trooper where the seat was so bad that I actually imported an othorpedic driver seat with an extra high backrest. I later put that seat with a new bracket into a Chevy tracker. In both cars I also moved the seat back by about 2-3". But I can't use that seat any longer with all the modern cars which have side airbags.

    Now I have a Saab 9-3 which actually has really good seats,geat headroom and leg room. but I need to replace this car and Saab is no longer. Plus my next Saab mechanic is too far away. And Volvo seem to have forgotten that they once designed cars for Swedish giants. Neither the V60 nor the XC70 now fit tall people anymore. Mainly thanks to the sunroof which is now standard. So I have to look somewhere else.
    But even with lots of headroom a short backrest really kills the deal for me as I am having spine and neck problems. I just returned a 2015 Golf to the dealer. Great head and leg room. But the seats are horrible. I got neck pain after about 15-30 in that car.

    I wonder if there is a list out there with measurements on the backrests?

    Thanks and keep up the work on this blog.

    • Tall Adaptations

      Sadly, I don't know of any list of seat back height…

      Perhaps you could try another aftermarket seat. I see there are some on amazon that say they have a "high back".

      It gets me thinking there might be a custom after market seat maker out there. How extraordinary that would be, getting a custom tall after market seat!

      I always put a towel or something soft behind my back to get a bit of lumbar support in the right place, one of these days I'll figure out something better. The head rest is a bit low too, which worries me. I got rear ended in my old car, which had a similar height head rest, and the whiplash wasn't too bad, but it was a slow speed crash…

      Thank you for your comment and appreciating the blog, keeps me going!

    • Anonymous

      I still have my other car seat which I got from Germany. It is sitting in the shed collecting dust. That seat is really awesome. It is from a German company called Greiner. The model is the vario XXL.
      http://www.greiner-gmbh.de/en/produkte/traffic/produktseiten/vario/vario-xxl.html
      The backrest is 68cm high. And the headrest can be extended to another 31 cm. So total height of 99cm from the top of the seat cushion. And seat cushion is also adjustable in depth from 49 to 57 cm for really long legs.
      To fit it into a new car I would need a custom bracket. I already had it in two different cars and had the brackets shipped from Germany. Back in the early 200 they made them themselves. But when I contacted them a few days ago they told me they now use brackets from Koeig seats which need to get modified slightly to fit the Greiner seats. The problem is that Koenig mainly focuses on the European market and there are no brackets for cars which are only sold in the US. Plus if the car has a side impact airbag, that would need to be deactivated as this seat does not have one. I know some car companies do offer solutions but not all. Anyhow I have already thought about getting another car where I can fit that seat. Afterall the seat was really expensive with shipping I paid somewhere around $1200 for it. One seat only.

    • Tall Adaptations

      Wow, that is brilliant. My seat back in my Honda Element is only 61cm high and head rest only goes another 25cm more.

      Expensive, but I can only imagine how comfortable that must be.

      If you get that seat in a car, could you please take some pictures and send it to TallAdapts at Gmail dot Com? Your story is welcome to if you have time. I think it such a brilliant solution that we should get it out to other tall folk!

  • Anonymous

    I am looking at the Element too. I am trying to find out if anyone has already used the Wedge Brackets.
    http://wedgebrackets.com/seat-brackets-home/
    They offer a bracket combined with 420 mm wide Recaro sliders for the pre 06 Element which would work with my seat. The Corbeau brackets/sliders are not wide enough.
    Otherwise I might go back to a pre 06 Vitara/Tracker/XL7. For this car I already have the bracket.
    As for new cars: I test sat about 30 cars recently. SUV, hatch backs, Wagons, trucks… All with horrible seats. Yes enough head room and leg room in many of them but the seats are horrible. Back rest to low with no shoulder support.
    One exception: BMW offers an optional seat package for the X5, 5 series including GT and the 7 series. It is a 20 way multi contour seat. Higher back rest and the shoulder support can be moved forward. These seats are really great. But the cars are hefty in price too…. Not sure I want to go that route.

    • Tall Adaptations

      I actually called the wedge brackets one time. What I was wondering though is whether or not I could use my existing honda element seat with their brackets, but apparantly this is not what they are intended for… but I'm thinking someday of getting the orthopaedic after market seat the earlier commenter mentioned, sounds amazing:
      http://www.greiner-gmbh.de/en/produkte/traffic/produktseiten/vario/vario-xxl.html#sthash.SoOpkNZB.dpuf

      I'm guessing you are pretty tall to be considering an old Element when you can afford BMWs. Perhaps you should take a look at the Ford Transit Connect consumer versions, as far as I'm concerned, they are the absolute best tall people cars out there (I learned about them after writing this article…), just maybe not all that sleek looking, but perhaps you could pimp it out with some rims, lol…

    • Tall Adaptations

      Nice seats. 66-67 is high, way higher than my 61cm Honda Element seats. I see another problem with post 2006 elements, the seat belt no longer comes from the door but through the seat, right in the middle of the shoulder. So replacing that seat won't be an option. I would love another Honda Element down the road, but seems the post 2006 models have a big issue…

  • Stefan Hirsch

    Hello I am back. I posted under anonymous before several times until I figured out I can actually post my name and a URL. After searching for some time I decided not to go with an Element and bought an 05 Suzuki XL-7. I found out that Wedge Engineering makes a bracket for the Element but I don't know what quality it is.
    I know there is a company who modified an XL-7 with sparco seats using wedge brackets but there I could not get details.
    http://www.superstreetonline.com/features/htup-0812-2005-honda-element-street-level/

    I bunch of unknowns and I did not know if the bracket and the Recaro sliders would actually work. Plus used Elements are really pricey, don't have enough towing capacity and no low range gearing on the 4WD versions.
    So I decided to go with a used Suzuki XL-7. The Chevrolet Tracker and Suzuki Grand Vitara are almost identical. And the XL-7 is basically the same one with a longer wheelbase. Since I already had the seat bracket for the Grand Vitara I could just bolt it in the XL7 which has the same floor plan.
    I am not sure if you can access this site but I have posted some pics on the Suzuki site:
    http://www.suzuki-forums.com/garage/2233
    Otherwise I can send them to you.

    • Tall Adaptations

      I just saw your pics. That is freaking awesome, look at the size difference between the seats! I'm glad you will be able to transfer the tall seat to your XL-7.

      Any chance you could write a quick account of this project with a few pics for TallAdaptations? I am certain their are hoards of other tall people out there who would love to do the same, just need a good example.

      Thanks and congrats on the fine adaptation!

    • Stefan Hirsch

      No problem. I can for sure provide a write up. But I would take a few days as I am busy this week and off the internet on the next weekend.

    • Big D

      Tall Sam: I just read through your interesting blog. I am 6’6″ tall and dread getting a new car–but my 2003 Honda Pilot won’t last forever. I have always been intrigued by the Element–and have a chance to buy a 2010, with your experience very much in mind. How tall are you Tall Sam?

      • Tall Life Post author

        I’m 6’7″ tall, with my torso being particularly long for my height. So I need a lot of vertical space and that is why the Honda Element has been so awesome of a car for me. Also, it is a really great car: few maintenance issues, lots of space in the back for moving stuff, only 14 feet long so great in the city, and in general a well designed simple car. My only complaints are that it only has 4 seat belts and I wish it could tow more than 1500 lbs. My next car will likely be the Ford Transit Connect.

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