We have a 2012 Element...a 26SRL.
We ordered it without the motorized option. It's a Carefree Freedom WM Awning. We've experienced no problems with our awning.
Not sure why the dealer would want to drill holes in the side of the Element? Sounds crazy to me. Maybe because it's cheaper?
I'd be concerned that you may not be able to open all the windows either with tracks screwed into the side. And I'm betting the dealer will NOT be able to screw those tracks into any framework..
What exactly is the dealer's rational for not replacing it with an OEM awning??
Bob & Pat
2012 Evergreen Element 26SRL
2012 Ford Expedition Limited