Honda Ridgeline

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Honda Ridgeline
1st Generation (Gen 1)
1st Generation Honda Ridgeline (circa 2005)
2nd Generation (Gen 2)
2nd Generation Honda Ridgeline (circa 2016)
Overview
Manufacturer Honda
Production 2005—2014, 2016—present
Model years 2006—2014, 2017—present
Assembly 2005—2008: Alliston, Ontario, CA
2008—2014, 2016—present: Lincoln, Alabama, US
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size truck
Body style 4-door Sport utility truck
Powertrain
Engine 3.5 liter V6

The Honda Ridgeline is a sport utility truck by Honda. It has a unibody construction, with independent suspension, a flat truck bed, a flat load floor, a dual-action tailgate, an In-Bed Trunk, all-wheel drive —as well as front-wheel drive for select 2017 US models—, that's only offered in the crew-cab short box configuration.[1][2] It was released in January 2005 going on sale in March of that year as a 2006 model and was initially built by Honda of Canada Manufacturing until 2008 when assembly relocated to Honda Manufacturing of Alabama.[3] Production of the first generation Honda Ridgeline ended in mid-2014.[4] Despite its low sales numbers,[5] the Ridgeline was one of the more profitable vehicles for Honda.[6] In 2013, Honda announced that a redesigned second generation Ridgeline would be built[4] and after a two-year production hiatus, a newly redesigned Ridgeline went on sale in late June 2016 as a 2017 model year vehicle.[7]

According to Honda, the Ridgeline was not designed to steal sales from the more traditional trucks sold in North America, but was developed to "give the 18% of Honda owners who also own pickups a chance to make their garages a Honda-only parking area."[8] The first generation Ridgeline was a uniquely engineered vehicle with only 7% of its components shared with Honda's global light truck platform and 5% shared exterior components. Its powertrain resembled that found in the 2006 Acura MDX but was heavily modified for hauling and towing.[1] The second generation Ridgeline took a different engineering approach modeling it after the 2016 Honda Pilot and modifying the components necessary to support truck type duties,[9] while maintaining the features that made the first generation Ridgeline unique.[10]

First generation[edit]

Honda Ridgeline (Gen 1)
2006 Honda Ridgeline RTS -- NHTSA 1.jpg
2006 Honda Ridgeline RTS
Overview
Production 2005–Aug 2014
Model years 2006–2014
Body and chassis
Layout Transversely-mounted front engine, all-wheel drive
Related None[1]
Powertrain
Engine 3.5 liter J-series V6
2005-2008: 247 hp (184 kW), 245 lb·ft (332 N·m)
2009-2014: 250 hp (190 kW), 247 lb·ft (335 N·m)
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 122 in (310 cm)
Length 2006-2008: 206.8 in (5,253 mm)
2009-2011: 207 in (5,258 mm)
2012-2014: 206.9 in (5,255 mm)
Width 77.8 in (198 cm)
Height 70.3 in (179 cm)
2012-2014 RTL: 71.2 in (181 cm)
Curb weight 2006-2008: 4,491–4,552 lb (2,037–2,065 kg)
2009-2011: 4,504–4,564 lb (2,043–2,070 kg)
2012-2014: 4,491–4,575 lb (2,037–2,075 kg)

According to the author of The Car Design Yearbook, the Ridgeline was "Honda's first foray into the true heartland of the American automotive way of life."[11] It was designed and engineered by Honda R&D Americas, led by Gary Flint, who took about four years[12] and approximately $250 million US Dollars (USD) to develop the vehicle.[6] The design was first revealed as the Honda SUT Concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.[1][13] The final production ready version of the Ridgeline was unveiled at the same auto show on January 10, 2005 as a 2006 model year vehicle.[14]

Design[edit]

Illustration of the first generation Honda Ridgeline's high strength steel-reinforced, closed-box, unibody frame
View of left-rear quarter of a 2009-2014 Honda Ridgeline —note the design of the C-pillar, rear roof garnish, sloping bed walls, and tailgate height; all work in concert to reduce air turbulence while maintaining visibility— (2011 Chilean RTL with OEM accessory silver side-steps[15])

According to Honda, "Engineers started with Honda’s Global Light Truck platform and transformed 93% of the components into a mission-specific platform with seven high strength steel cross members that create a fully boxed ladder frame structure with full integration into the unibody frame. Further differentiation includes unique suspension component designs, 100% unique sheetmetal and a 95% exclusive interior."[1] This steel-reinforced fully boxed ladder-like unibody frame with its four-wheel independent suspension provided space for designers to build unique storage solutions in, around, and on top of the frame.[16] Starting at the front of the Ridgeline, engineers crafted a hood that created a cold air intake system for the engine that draws outside air from above and in front of the radiator to support torque production during high engine temperature conditions[17] and supports deep water fording.[18] This also allowed engineers to build environmentally protected windshield wipers that were also heated to improve winter performance.[19] In the crew-cab, the unibody frame allowed engineers to build a cabin with a flat load floor (i.e. no transmission hump) and more passanger space than other mid-size trucks.[1] At the center of the truck, the C-pillar's unique shape was specifically designed to help distribute large loads across the unibody frame and the cab so the truck could achieve its targeted payload and towing figures.[20] Also, the design of the C-pillar, rear roof garnish, and tailgate were built to maintain good aerodynamics and reduce turbulence between the cab and the tailgate while maintaining driver visibility. This aerodynamic design allowed them to create a rear garnish that shields the rear glass window so when it's opened at speed there is no buffeting or rainwater intrusion.[19] The bed is built out of steel-reinforced Sheet Molding Composite (SMC) which is dent resistant, corrosion resistant, and is covered with a non-slip coating. It is supported by high strength steel-reinforced crossmembers (three under the bed and two in the rear cab wall) to safely secure and support loads,[1] even under conditions that would cause the SMC to fail.[21]

Specifications[edit]

Second row of a 2009-2014 Honda Ridgeline RTL and EX-L/Touring trim with short portion of split bench-seat stowed highlighting the flat load floor
Front row of a 2009-2014 Honda Ridgeline RTL (US) and EX-L/Touring trim highlighting the open space, flat load floor, and storage try between the center console and the dash

The first generation Ridgeline has a 5 ft (1.5 m) cargo bed, similar to the Chevrolet Avalanche,[22] which can be extended to 6.6 ft (2 m) with the tailgate down.[23] The bed's width between the wheel-wells is 4.1 ft (1.2 m)[23] and 4.6 ft (1.4 m) at its widest points.[1] The Ridgeline's drivetrain, frame, and suspension design allowed engineers to build the "industry's first"[24] lockable, watertight, and drainable 8.5 cu ft (240.7 l) In-Bed Trunk at the rear of the bed.[1] The cabin can accommodate five full-size adults with 2.6 cu ft (73.6 l) of under-seat storage in the second row[23] or 41.4 cu ft (1.2 m3) when the rear 60/40 split bench seat's bottom cushions are folded up.[25] It has 8.2 in (20.8 cm) of ground clearance with approach, departure and breakover angles of 24.5º, 22º, and 21º respectively while maintaining a comfortable entry/exit height for passengers.[1]

The first generation Honda Ridgeline has a weight distribution of 52/48 (front/rear) with a total payload capacity ranging from 1,475 lb (669 kg) to 1,559 lb (707 kg), depending on trim level.[23] This SUT's steel-reinforced SMC bed is designed to handle loads of up to 1,100 lb (499 kg).[26] and has six (2006-2008 models) or eight (2009-2014 models) tie down cleats, in a high/low configuration, rated at 350 lb (159 kg) each. The SMC bed has special guides built into its surface to help accommodate multiple off-road motorcycles.[1][23] The Ridgeline’s bed is also equipped with four bed lights that are integrated into its walls providing a minimum of ten lux of illuminance throughout the bed.[21] In addition to built in lights, the forward section (close to the cab) of the SUT's right bed wall has a hidden spare tire mount that can accommodate either a temporary or full-size spare tire for times when access to the spare tire service tray, via the In-Bed Trunk, is impractical.[26] Inside the In-Bed Trunk are integrated cargo hooks and organizer slots to help manage the up to 300 lb (136 kg) of material that it can securely stowed.[1] The tailgate has a dual-action hinging system that allows it to be opened like a traditional tailgate but can also be swung open either 30º or 80º to the side.[21] When in the down position, the Ridgeline's tailgate can handle dynamic loads of up to 300 lb (136 kg).[21] When equipped with a roof rack, the Ridgeline's roof structure is designed to handle a total load of 165 lb (75 kg) to 110 lb (50 kg), depending on model year.[26][27]

Honda lists a 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) towing capacity for the Ridgeline while accommodating an additional 510 lb (231 kg) to 594 lb (269 kg) (depending on trim level) of payload.[23] All models came with a heavy-duty radiator, integrated transmission and power steering coolers, dual 160W radiator fans, and were pre-wired for a trailer brake controller and a four and/or seven-pin (depending on model year) trailer wiring harness.[19][21][23] Also, depending on trim level and model year, a class III tow hitch with a four and/or seven-pin trailer wiring harness was either standard equipment or dealer installed options.[26][28][29]

The Ridgeline has a four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link trailing arm configuration in the rear.[23] It has a turning diameter of 42.6 ft (13.0 m) using variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.[23] It has four-wheel disk brakes with 13.1 in (33.3 cm) ventilated front disks with floating twin piston calipers[30] and 12.6 in (32 cm) solid rear disks with integrated emergency/parking drum brakes; the rear brakes use floating single piston calipers for the disks and dual opposing brake shoes for the drums.[31][32] The disk brakes are controlled via a four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist.[1] Although 60 mph (97 km/h) to 0 stopping distances of 117 ft (36 m)[33] to 195 ft (59 m)[34] have been reported, the average appears to be between 140 ft (43 m)[35] and 147 ft (45 m).[36]

Powertrain[edit]

According to Gary Flint, the truck's Variable Torque Management Four-Wheel Drive (VTM-4) system —co-developed with BorgWarner[37] "provides front-wheel drive for dry-pavement cruising conditions and engages all-wheel drive when needed to improve stability or maneuverability"[38] and supports medium duty off-road use.[1] The electromagnetically driven clutch-operated differential[37] can be manually locked (VTM-4 Lock) to help the truck better handle adverse terrain or become unstuck.[1] It also has a four-channel fully automatic Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system that is designed to enhance control during acceleration, cornering, and collision-avoidance maneuvers and can be manually disabled to prevent undesirable throttle intervention in off-road conditions.[1][38]

The Ridgeline is powered by a transverse mounted J35A9 (2006–2008) or J35Z5 (2009–2014),[29] 3,471 cc (211.8 cu in) 60º V6 engine equipped with a 22 US gal (83 l) fuel tank; no powertrain variations were offered.[23] Both engines have an aluminum block with exhaust manifolds cast directly into the cylinder heads and a belt driven Single Overhead Camshafts (SOHC), a 24-valve Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) system, 10.0 : 1 compression, a variable-length intake manifold, and Honda's Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI). All work together to respond to the Ridgeline's electronic throttle that's also linked to the VTM-4 and VSA systems.[1][29] The automatic transmission uses a four-shaft design with a flat lock-up torque converter that's managed by the PGM-FI's central processing unit. A direct-control real-time pressure management system coordinates engine and transmission operation to minimize driveline shocks and a Grade Logic Controller prevents gear hunting when climbing hills or when more engine braking is required.[1]

The aerodynamic and drivetrain design as well as the overall weight of the Ridgeline produced a truck that, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing, can achieve 15 mpg-US (15.7 L/100 km) city, 20 mpg-US (11.8 L/100 km) or 21 mpg-US (11.2 L/100 km) highway (depending on model year), and 17 mpg-US (13.8 L/100 km) combined.[39][40]

Equipment[edit]

Front passenger area of a 2009-2014 Honda Ridgeline RTL (US) and EX-L/Touring trim

In addition to the features described above, the Honda Ridgeline came equipped with other standard equipment not found in many other base model mid-size trucks of its time —like the Toyota Tacoma,[41] Nissan Frontier,[42] Suzuki Equator,[43] Dodge Dakota,[44][45] Ford Explorer Sport Trac,[46] Ford Ranger,[47] and GM's Colorado/Canyon,[48] such as:[1][26]

The 2009 model year brought more unusual standard equipment such as a seven-pin trailer wiring harness for Canadian models and a class III tow hitch for all models.[50] The 2013 model year brought with it a rearview camera to round out the unusual list of standard equipment for the Honda Ridgeline.[51]

Location of six-disc CD player for Honda Ridgeline's with GPS navigation

For the US market, it was produced in six different trim levels through its lifetime: RT, RTX, Sport, RTS, RTL, and SE.[23][28][52][53] The short lived RTX trim was a base RT model with a class III tow hitch, four and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, large honeycomb style black grille, and 17 in (43.2 cm) alloy rims.[28] The Sport trim came with an exterior blackout treatment, fog lights, a saw-tooth style black grille, special 18 in (45.7 cm) alloy rims, as well as some interior enhancements such as a black interior trim package, MP3/auxiliary 3.5mm TRS stereo input jack, and steering-wheel mounted audio system controls.[52] The RTS trim lacked many of the exterior treatments found in the RTX and Sport but had interior enhancements not found in the other packages such as a ten-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, and a Pioneer Premium 160W six-CD changer with upgraded speakers and a subwoofer.[23][54] —Power-adjustable lumbar and MP3/auxiliary input jack were added to the RTS in the 2009 model year.[29] For all but the last year of production, the RTL was the highest trim package available and came with both exterior and interior enhancements. Some of the more noteworthy RTL enhancements were found in the interior such as leather trimmed upholstery and steering wheel, heated front seats and side-view mirrors, and the addition of XM Satellite Radio.[23] —Unique 18 in (45.7 cm) alloy rims, fog lights, and a 115V/100W AC inverter were added to the RTL in the 2009 model year.[29] Optional on the RTL was a power moonroof —until the 2007 model year[55] and an Alpine Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation.[23][25][26] This GPS navigation option replaced the Pioneer Premium audio system with a Clarion 160W XM head unit, a Panasonic 8 in (20.3 cm) infotainment touchscreen, and a hidden multi-format six-disc CD player.[56] —A rearview camera, Bluetooth, and Honda's HandsFreeLink were added to GPS navigation equipped RTLs in the 2009 model year.[29] The SE trim was the top trim package for the 2014 model year which included every option available for the RTL and added the Sport trim's blackout treatment and grille, unique 18 in (45.7 cm) polished aluminum rims, and a black interior with matching leather upholstery.[23][53]

For the Canadian market, the Ridgeline was produced in seven different trim levels throughout its production: LX, DX, VP, Sport, Special Edition, EX-L, and Touring.[1][57][58][59] The LX and DX were the base trim packages, similar to the RT.[1][57] The VP trim was the next in the lineup, sitting somewhere between the RT and RTS.[57] The Canadian Sport was the third fanciest in the lineup and was very similar to the Sport trim sold in the US.[58] The Special Edition was next in the lineup; although it shared the SE's unique rims, grille, badging, and black leather interior, its features put it somewhere between the Sport and RTS trim packages.[60] The EX-L and Touring trims were at the top of the lineup and were similar to the RTL with one exception; until the 2009 model year, a moonroof as well as GPS navigation were part of the EX-L's optional equipment[1][57] while the Touring package came standard with both.[58] This made the Touring trim the top trim package for Canadian buyers, similar to the SE.[59] Although there were differences between the US and Canadian trim packages, the technical differences were the use of daytime running lights on all trim levels and model years, metric system gauges, and Honda's bilingual (English and French) voice recognition and navigation systems.[26][59][61]

For the Mexican market, only an RTL trim was available and had a few twists to its packaging that set it apart from its US and Canadian counterparts.[62][63][64] The Mexican RTL came equipped very similarly to the Canadian EX-L and retained the optional moonroof of the early EX-L.[63] Unlike the EX-L, GPS navigation was never a factory option.[63][64] Also, the Mexican RTL came equipped with the 2006 through 2008 EX-L rims until the 2012 model year when it was updated with the US and Canadian Sport's exterior trim pieces.[62][64]

For the Chilean market, the Ridgeline was sold in two trim levels, RT and RTL.[65] The Chilean RT appears to be a mix between the Canadian DX and VP trims while the Chilean RTL appears to consist of options found in the early model Canadian EX-L trim.[66]

With the exception of the trucks sold in Mexico —which were sold with limited options—,[63] the first generation Honda Ridgeline was offered in five to seven different exterior colors each year as well as one to three interior color options.[59][67][68][69] Exterior colors were based on different shades of black, gray, white, silver, blue, and red as well as some short-lived green and brown colors. Most interior color variations were found in the upholstery that varied between olive, beige, gray, dark gray, or black in cloth or leather depending on model year, trim level, and the country where it was sold. Also, the interior colors were often mated to specific exterior colors and trim levels.[66][67][69][70]

In addition to the different features and accessories one could obtain by purchasing certain trim levels, Honda offered many accessories as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) items that could be ordered and installed at the dealership. Additionally, there were numerous Honda accessories that did not come on any trim level which could be purchased and installed at the dealership including brush guards, roof racks (with a variety of accessory mounts), storage organizers, bed extenders, and more.[71]

Updates[edit]

For the 2007 model year, the RTX trim package was introduced in the US market as a unique tow-ready version of the Ridgeline.[28] Also for the 2007 model year, Honda made the moonroof standard equipment on the US RTL trim and swapped three of its exterior color options for slightly different shades of the same base colors while adding a new dark gray, called "Nimbus Gray Metallic," to the color palette as well as "Taffeta White" for the Canadian market.[55][67][68][72]

For the 2008 model year, Honda replaced its two-tone fabrics upholsteries for monotone versions and the RTS and RTL trims received more polished versions of their existing alloy rims.[73] Also for the 2008 model year, Honda removed its last green exterior color option, called "Aberdeen Green Metallic," from its lineup.[70][74]

Transmission ratio changes with introduction of 2009 model year[29]
Gear 2006-2008 2009-2014 Delta
1st 2.693 : 1 2.697 : 1 -0.2%
2nd 1.566 : 1 1.606 : 1 -2.6%
3rd 1.023 : 1 1.071 : 1 -4.7%
4th 0.729 : 1 0.765 : 1 -4.9%
5th 0.531 : 1 0.538 : 1 -1.3%
Rev. 1.888 : 1 1.888 : 1 0%
Power and torque comparison between the 2006-2008 J35A9 and 2009-2014 J35Z5 engines

For the 2009 model year, the Ridgeline received its most significant updates with over 50 different changes, including the removal of the RTX trim from the US lineup, exterior and interior updates, as well as drivetrain improvements. Some of the more noticeable changes were a new front end with daytime running lights, new brake light covers, new rear step-bumper with integrated class III tow hitch, two additional bed cleats, new instrument cluster, a new steering wheel, driver and front-passenger active head restraints, and more. In the US, the RTS trim gained a power-adjustable lumbar, an MP3/auxiliary input jack, and a seven-pin trailer wiring harness. The US RTL trim gained the same seven-pin harness and received new 18 in (45.7 cm) alloy rims and a 115V/100W AC inverter; if equipped with GPS navigation, the RTL also received a rearview camera and Class 2 Bluetooth with Honda's HandsFreeLink system.[29][50] For Canadians, a new lineup of trim levels were introduced that more closely resembled the US lineup.[57] A new V6 engine (the J35Z5) was introduced that produced up to 10 lb·ft (14 N·m) more torque at lower revolutions per minute (rpm) than its predecessor with a slight horsepower (hp) increase of 3 hp (2.2 kW) at the top of its rpm band. The transmission was also revised with the greatest differences found in third and fourth gears providing approximately 5% lower ratios.[29] Also for the 2009 model year, Honda swapped four of its exterior color options in the US and three in Canada for slightly different shades of the same base colors --leaving Canadians with two different black paints to choose from-- while adding "Mocha Metallic" to the exterior color palette in both markets.[57][75]

For the 2010 model year, Honda swapped three of its exterior color options in the US and two in Canada for slightly different shades of the same basic colors --including the consolidation of Canada's two black paints into the new global "Crystal Black Pearl"-- and adding "Alabaster Silver Metallic" to both markets.[76][77]

For the 2011 model year, Honda removed the "Mocha Metallic" exterior color option from the Canadian lineup.[78]

For the 2012 model year, a new Sport trim was introduced in the US and Canada, and the Canadian EX-L was replaced by a new Touring trim package. Also, a new grille was introduced for all but the new Sport model.[52][79] For Mexico, their RTL trim received the US and Canadian Sport's exterior package while retaining its Canadian EX-L interior.[62][64] Lastly, aerodynamic improvements were made to the body and friction reduction measures were made to the J35Z5 engine; these improvements helped increase highway fuel economy by 1 mpg-US (2.4 L/km), according to EPA testing.[52]

For the 2013 model year, all Ridgeline trim levels, if not already equipped, were outfitted with rearview cameras[51] using a new rearview mirror with an imbedded monitor —equipped with parking guide lines—[80] and the rearview camera from the RTL trim's GPS navigation package. Also, the RTL trim sold in Chile was outfitted with the same 18 in (45.7 cm) alloy rims found on the 2009-2014 US RTL and Canadian EX-L/Touring trims.[65] Lastly, Honda swapped its dark blue exterior paint option, called "Bali Blue Pearl," with a slightly lighter color, called "Obsidian Blue Pearl" and removed "Mocha Metallic" from the US color palette.[81][82]

For the 2014 model year, Honda removed the VP trim from the Canadian lineup and replaced it with a new Special Edition package.[60] In the US, the SE trim was introduced surpassing the RTL as the new top-of-the-line model.[53] As with 2013, the 2014 model year saw Honda replace its dark gray exterior color, called "Polished Metal Metallic," for a slightly lighter version, called "Modern Steel Metallic."[59][69]

Changes in Honda Ridgeline's trim levels over time
Model year United States Canada
2006 RT, RTS, and RTL (with/without moonroof or moonroof and GPS navigation)[26] LX and EX-L (with/without moonroof or moonroof and GPS navigation)[1]
2007-2008 RT, RTX, RTS, and RTL (with/without GPS navigation)[28]
—No change—[70]
2009-2011 RT, RTS, and RTL (with/without GPS navigation)[29] DX, VP, and EX-L (with/without GPS navigation)[50]
2012-2013 RT, Sport, RTS, and RTL (with/without GPS navigation)[52] DX, VP, Sport, and Touring[79]
2014 RT, Sport, RTS, RTL (with/without GPS navigation), and SE[53] DX, Sport, Special Edition, and Touring[60]
Exterior color changes to US and Canadian Honda Ridgeline's by trim level and model year
Exterior color 2006
(US/CA)[67][68]
2007
(US/CA)[55][72]
2008
(US/CA)[70][74]
2009
(US/CA)[57][75]
2010
(US/CA)[76][77]
2011
(US/CA)[78][83]
2012
(US/CA)[58][84]
2013
(US/CA)[81][82]
2014
(US/CA)[59][69]
Formal Black RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL DX, VP, and EX-L
Crystal Black Pearl RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, Sport, RTS, Special Edition, RTL, Touring, and SE
Nighthawk Black Pearl RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Bali Blue Pearl RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Obsidian Blue Pearl RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Steel Blue Metallic RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Dark Cherry Pearl RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RTS, RTL, and Touring
Redrock Pearl RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Mocha Metallic VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RTS and RTL RTS and RTL
Amazon/Ammanite Green Metallic LX, RTS, EX-L and RTL
Aberdeen Green Metallic LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Polished Metal Metallic RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Modern Steel Metallic RT, DX, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Nimbus Gray Metallic RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Sterling Gray Metallic RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Billet Silver Metallic RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Alabaster Silver Metallic RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, Sport (US), RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, Sport, RTS, Special Edition, RTL, Touring, and SE
Taffeta White LX and EX-L LX and EX-L RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL DX, VP, and EX-L DX, VP, and EX-L DX, VP, Sport (CA), and Touring DX, VP, Sport (CA), and Touring DX, Sport (CA), Special Edition, and Touring
White RT, RTS, and RTL RT, RTX, RTS, and RTL RT, RTX, RTS, and RTL RT, RTS, and RTL RT, RTS, and RTL RT, Sport (US), RTS, and RTL RT, Sport (US), RTS, and RTL Sport (US), RTL, and SE
Changes in Honda Ridgeline's front fascia and rims over time
2006 RTL or 2006-2007 RTS / EX-L
2007-2008 RTX (with OEM accessory roof rack[85] and running boards[86])
2008 RTL / EX-L (with OEM accessory moonroof visor[87])
2009-2011 American RT / DX
2012-2014 Chilean RT
2012-2014 Sport / Mexican RTL
2012-2014 American RTL / Touring and 2013-2014 Chilean RTL
2014 SE / Special Edition

Comparisons[edit]

When attempting to compare one vehicle to another, one can look at the manufacturer's numbers as well as independent testing. Given that environmental conditions can change a vehicle's performance,[88] looking at real-world tests that were performed at the same time, at the same location, with like configured vehicles should yield the fairest results. All comparisons referenced below are made with four-wheel drive, crew-cab (where possible), short box versions of the same model year mid-size trucks as the Honda Ridgeline that were sold in North America.

When you compare the Ridgeline's advertized interior/passenger volume and total payload with the Toyota Tacoma,[41] Nissan Frontier,[42] Suzuki Equator,[43] Dodge Dakota,[44][45] Ford Explorer Sport Trac,[46] Ford Ranger,[47] and GM's Colorado/Canyon,[48] the Ridgeline has greater interior space and hauling capacity than its competition. However, when comparing the manufacturers' tow ratings, —even when performing a towing, curb weight and GCWR calculation to get a more accurate number— the Ridgeline falls short putting it at the bottom of its class for towing. Otherwise, the Ridgeline falls in the middle of these mid-size trucks' published specifications.[23]

The Ridgeline is the first four-door pickup truck to win the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) five-star safety rating for both front and side impact crash test performance and it had the highest rollover resistance of any pickup NHTSA ever tested.[89] Also, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the Ridgeline with its highest crash safety scores giving it the "Top Safety Pick" designation[90] while the Toyota Tacoma,[91] Nissan Frontier,[92] Suzuki Equator,[93] Dodge Dakota,[94] Ford Explorer Sport Trac,[95] Ford Ranger,[96] and GM's Colorado[97]/Canyon[98] had one or more less than good rating(s).

In 2012, PickupTrucks.com conducted a mid-size truck challenge with six of the eight trucks listed above (minus the Dakota and Sport Trac) and the Honda Ridgeline. With the exception of a 2011 super-cab Ford Ranger, all test vehicles were 2012 models and all but one had V6 engines (the Colorado was equipped with the LH8). The head-to-head comparisons focused on numerous attributes including objective tests on 0-60 mph (97 km/h), 60-0, and quarter-mile (0.4 km) times with maximum payloads as well as empty beds; dynamometer tests; and real-world fuel economy tests. Subjective tests included expert driver impressions, best value estimates, and an off-road course.[99] Of the seven mid-size trucks tested, the Ridgeline ranked third overall.[100] Of the objective tests, the Ridgeline had the highest scores for payload[101][102] and real-world fuel economy[103] while ranking lowest in torque delivery at the wheels;[104] otherwise, the Ridgeline ranked in the middle of the other objective tests.[101][104] Of the subjective tests, the Ridgeline was judged second in expert impressions, third in best value, and last in the off-road course.[102][105]

Marketing and sales[edit]

According to Automotive Design & Production, Honda was slow to enter the minivan market as well as the SUV market, so "given that track record it is no surprise that Honda has just now [2005] gotten around to building a pickup truck.".[8] The Ridgeline is more aptly classified as a sport utility truck with the only direct rivals being the full-size Chevrolet Avalanche[106] and the smaller Ford Explorer Sport Trac.[46] Other less direct rivals include the four-wheel drive, crew-cab, short box versions of other mid-size pickups of that era such as the Toyota Tacoma,[41] Nissan Frontier,[42] Suzuki Equator,[43] Dodge Dakota,[45] and GM's Colorado/Canyon.[48]

2009 Honda Ridgeline RTL (US) —with these OEM accessories: brush guard,[107] small honeycomb style black grille,[108] black roof rack,[85] body side protectors,[109] and splash guards[110] towing a Sea Ray sport boat[111] via a Karavan trailer[112]

According to Bloomberg, Honda hoped buyers would find it an attractive alternative to large SUVs, and conventional pickup trucks.[89] Some in the press that have evaluated the Ridgeline, such as PickupTrucks.com, consider it "one of those odd vehicles."[113] They wrote, "The Ridgeline can't really do what most people who like trucks need it to do."[113] While AutoTrader.com wrote, "Sure, some homeowners and weekend warriors may actually need a 10,000-lb towing capacity, but the Honda Ridgeline is probably just right for most."[114] Others in the automotive press, such as The Driver's Seat TV, call the Ridgeline, "the Swiss Army knife of trucks," due to its functionality, and "the anti-truck," due to Honda's lack of following the rules when it comes to truck design; they summarized the truck as scoring "high on practicality but very low on image."[115]

Hanover, New Hampshire Police Department's custom 2009 Honda Ridgeline RTS police cruiser[116]

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, "Since its March [2005] debut, Honda's first pickup for the US market is slow to gain traction. Nissan's full-size Titan pickup also has fallen short of sales targets in this all-American segment, which ... is proving tough for outsiders to crack."[117] According to Bloomberg Business, early slow sales can partly be attributed to the expense of the vehicle, which some considered "over-priced." Consequently, dealers began to discount the truck and sales increased.[89] Regardless, sales were still slow compared to other Honda vehicles[5] Honda gave the Ridgeline a facelift for 2009 and added a lower-priced Sport model for 2012, but sales remained "lackluster," according to AutoBlog.com.[118]

Automobile Magazine wrote, "The reaction among pickup buyers has been a collective yawn. ... Volume dropped by half from 2008 to 2010 and then fell another 40 percent last year [2011]." Soon after, Honda posted "an open letter from the company's head to truck product planning, denying rumors that the Ridgeline would be dropped and insisting that a pickup truck will remain part of the company's portfolio."[119] According to Automobile Magazine, parts shortages, due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, put production on hold and "this setback likely impacted sales," but the company announced that the Ridgeline would "continue production through 2013."[120]

Gen 1 Honda Ridgeline sales[5]
Calendar year United States Canada
2005 42,593 3,512
2006 50,193 4,988
2007 42,795 4,519
2008 33,875 3,987
2009 16,464 3,546
2010 16,142 3,200
2011 9,759 1,713
2012 14,068 2,226
2013 17,723 2,122
2014 13,389 1,803
2015 520 229

The first generation Honda Ridgeline ended production in mid-2014.[121] The automaker planned to continue production until the second generation Ridgeline was introduced; however, "slow sales of the truck have prompted the automaker to pull it sooner than expected."[122] Despite this, the Ridgeline was one of Honda's more profitable vehicles due to the company's frugal nature that allowed them to develop the Ridgeline for under $250 million USD —half of what General Motors would normally pay—, maximizing Honda's profit margin.[6]

Second generation[edit]

Honda Ridgeline (Gen 2)
2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T.jpg
2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-T
Overview
Production May 2016-present[123]
Model years 2017-present
Assembly Lincoln, Alabama, US
Body and chassis
Layout Transversely-mounted front engine, front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive
Related Honda Pilot[9]
Powertrain
Engine 3.5 liter J-series V6
280 hp (210 kW), 262 lb·ft (355 N·m)
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 125.2 in (3,180 mm)
Length 210.0 in (5,334 mm)
Width 78.6 in (1,996 mm)
Height 70.2–70.8 in (1,783–1,798 mm)
Curb weight 4,242–4,515 lb (1,924–2,048 kg)

On January 11, 2016 at the North American International Auto Show, Honda unveiled the 2017 Honda Ridgeline to the North American market,[124] two months after the public got a glimpse of what the new truck would look like when Honda showed off its new Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show.[125]

Design[edit]

The second generation Honda Ridgeline retains the features and capabilities from the first generation —such as: a similar payload capacity (between 1,447 lb (656 kg) and 1,584 lb (718 kg) depending on trim), the same towing capability, the In-Bed Trunk, the dual-action tailgate, the flat bed, and the rear 60/40 split bench seat with flat load floor[126] but with more traditional truck styling, advanced safety features, modern electronic amenities, and is now offered in front-wheel drive (FWD) (US market only[127]) as well as all-wheel drive (AWD).[10] Like before, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline is a unibody vehicle but this frame uses Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure.[124] The front-half of this new truck comes with many of the same components and features as the 2016 Honda Pilot, such as:[2][128][129]

Despite these similarities, a spokesman from Honda R&D Americas stated that 50% of the Honda Pilot's chassis components had to be changed or strengthened for use in the 2017 Ridgeline.[9] The C-pillar and rear sub-frame mounts had to be strengthened as well giving the 2017 Ridgeline 28% more torsional rigidity over the first generation Ridgeline. According to one of the Ridgeline’s body development engineers, "Utilizing fully boxed frame members for the body sides and rear tailgate frame, the truss-style rear inner construction contributes to the new Ridgeline’s more conventional three-box design profile allowing for the elimination of the buttress-style body structure" of the first generation Ridgeline.[20]

Specifications and Powertrain Differences[edit]

Some of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline's features being touted by Honda include a more spacious interior, a wider/longer/tougher bed, the optional in-bed audio system —where the bed walls are turned into speakers that can be controlled with a smartphone, the optional bed-mounted 115V/150W-to-400W AC inverter, and best in class gasoline V6 fuel economy.[10][124]

The second generation Honda Ridgeline does enhance its hauling and towing performance from the first generation through the following enhancements:[1][2]

  • An increase in interior volume (depending on trim level), such as a 0.3 in (8 mm) increase in under-seat storage in the second row
  • A bigger bed that's:
    • 0.25 in (6 mm) wider between the wheel wells
    • 5.5 in (14 cm) wider overall
    • 3.9 in (10 cm) longer with the tailgate up
    • 5.5 in (14 cm) longer with the tailgate down
  • A more durable SMC bed, that's reportedly stronger than its competitor's[130]
Power and torque comparison between the Gen 1's J35Z5 and the Gen 2's J35Y6 engines
  • A more powerful J35Y6, 3,471 cc (211.8 cu in), V6 engine —produces 30 hp (22 kW) and 15 lb·ft (20 N·m) more at the top of the rpm band than the first generation Ridgeline— consisting of a:
Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 transmission gear ratios[2]
Gear 2014 2017
1st 2.697 : 1 3.359 : 1
2nd 1.606 : 1 2.095 : 1
3rd 1.071 : 1 1.485 : 1
4th 0.765 : 1 1.065 : 1
5th 0.538 : 1 0.754 : 1
6th
0.556 : 1
Rev. 1.888 : 1 2.269 : 1
  • An improved transmission with:
    • 20% wider gear ratios, including a 21.9% lower first-gear and a 3.3% higher top gear
    • reduced friction
    • an improved lock-up clutch
  • An improved AWD system (I-VTM4) that's:
    • 22% lighter
    • with a 20% increase in torque capacity
    • now able to dynamically distribute torque between left and right rear-wheels
    • now capable of overdriving the outside rear-wheel by 2.7% for improved cornering performance
  • Improved brake ventilation with 23% reduction in drag
  • A 1.8 ft (1 m) tighter turning radius, despite having a 3.2 in (8 cm) longer wheelbase
  • A multi-view rear camera
  • An auto-tilting side-view mirror, for close-in visibility when backing up
  • Honda's Trailer Stability Assist
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Better fuel economy, with EPA estimated AWD improvements of:
    • 3 mpg-US (78.4 L/100 km) city
    • 5 mpg-US (47.0 L/100 km) highway
    • 4 mpg-US (58.8 L/100 km) combined

Despite these improvements, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline does have a shallower bed, less ground clearance —at 7.3 in (19 cm) for FWD or 7.9 in (20 cm) for AWD with approach/breakover/departure angles of 19.2°/18.5°/21.4° for FWD or 20.1°/19.6°/22.1° for AWD—, a smaller fuel tank —at 19.5 US gal (74 l)—, a smaller but deeper In-Bed Trunk —at 7.3 cu ft (206.7 l)—, and lacks the ability to store a full-size spare tire in the trunk compared to the first generation Ridgeline.[1][2]

Equipment[edit]

For the US market, the 2017 Ridgeline is being offered in seven different trim levels: RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and Black Edition. In addition to the standard equipment found in the RT trim, the RTS adds remote engine start, smart entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, and fog lights. The Sport trim takes the RTS and adds 18 in (45.7 cm) gray painted alloy rims, crystal black pearl paint, black painted exterior trim, and sport badging. The RTL trim takes a different approach with the RTS by adding a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, ten-way power driver's seat, and an acoustic windshield. The RTL-T trim takes the RTL and adds the 8 in (20.3 cm) infotainment touchscreen system. RTL-E trim takes the RTL-T and adds blind spot monitoring, Honda Sensing, and a 540W audio system with truck bed audio while the Black Edition adds a unique blackout treatment to the RTL-E trim.[2][126]

For the Canadian market, the 2017 Ridgeline is being offered in five trim levels: LX, Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Black Edition.[127] These trim levels are fairly different from the ones offered in the US until you reach the top trim levels. However, there are unique amenities that can only be found in Canadian Ridgelines, such as: heated windshield wipers with rain sensing, ventilated front seats, power folding side-view mirrors with integrated turning signal indicators, and heated rear-seats with a rear-passenger climate control interface.[2][127]

For the Caribbean and Latin American markets, the 2017 Ridgeline is being offered in two trims, RTL and RTL-T, and are similarly equipped to the US versions of the RTL and RTL-T.[131]

Depending on trim level, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline is offered in seven exterior colors and black, gray, or beige interiors in either fabric or leather upholstery, including a special black leather interior with red highlights that's exclusive to the Black Edition trim level.[131][132][133]

2017 Honda Ridgeline's exterior colors by trim level[131][132][133]
Color Crystal Black Pearl Obsidian Blue Pearl Deep Scarlet Pearl Forest Mist Metallic Modern Steel Metallic Lunar Silver Metallic White Diamond Pearl
Trim level LX, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, EX-L, RTL-E, Touring, and Black Edition RTS, RTL, RTL-T, EX-L, RTL-E, and Touring RTS, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and Touring RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and Touring RT, RTS, RTL, RTL-T, EX-L, RTL-E, and Touring RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, EX-L, RTL-E, and Touring LX, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, EX-L, RTL-E, and Touring

As before, Honda is offering many OEM accessories that are specifically designed for the 2017 Ridgeline.[134] The types of accessories being sold are much the same as those offered for the first generation Ridgeline[71] with one exception, the Honda Bed Tent.[134]

Comparisons[edit]

As in 2012, PickupTrucks.com performed another mid-size truck challenge but with 2016 and 2017 model year vehicles sold in the US. Through this battery of objective and subjective test —many similar and some different from the 2012 challenge— the 2017 Honda Ridgeline came in second overall "by one of the slimmest margins in any test" PickupTrucks.com has conducted, winning half of the objective tests. PickupTrucks.com said, "There's no question the Ridgeline was the surprise of this challenge... Our biggest surprise came at our daylong romp at the Bundy Hill Offroad Park where we found the Honda Intelligent Traction Management system to be shrewd and smooth during our sand drags and steep hill climbs. However, as well as it performed, it still had a few problems;" such as how "much sag occurs while carrying payload," mushy and unpredictable brakes, and a hard to use with bad Sun glare infotainment touchscreen. "Still, if you need your pickup to be a Swiss Army knife and you don't need to carry a lot of gear, there isn't anything else in the Ridgeline's league."[135]

Although not complete, IIHS's late October 2016 report on their 2017 Honda Ridgeline safety tests has it receiving top marks[136] with its headlight performance ranked best of all new pickups, mid-size or full-size.[137]

Marketing and sales[edit]

Compared to the first generation Ridgeline, Honda's second attempted at a mid-size truck for the North American market has the automotive press changing its tune, yet it still has an image problem. Gearheads.org wrote the "2017 Honda Ridgeline still won’t get respect but should" stating, its "downside is going to be looks" with its "soft rounded pudgy panda look rather than a sharp chiseled warhorse."[138] A New York Daily News reporter reviewed the 2017 Honda Ridgeline saying, "You’d think that the most utilitarian of passenger vehicle styles –-the pickup truck-– would be a completely logical purchase. If that were the case, the Ridgeline would outsell all of the other midsize trucks by a landslide, boasting the best combination of safety, utility and drivability in the class. But the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado both have something that the Ridgeline almost completely lacks: tough, blue collar pickup truck bravado."[139] That being said, Car and Driver magazine proclaimed, "The Ridgeline’s roomy cabin, ample storage, smooth ride, and innovative touches make its rivals seem outdated. ...it not only has cargo space, but also the makings of a great tailgate party..."[140] Motor Trend magazine summed up their view by says they liked "its smooth ride and sharp handling," disliked "the high price, clumsy infotainment system, and plain design," and nominated the new Ridgeline as one of its finalist for their 2017 Truck of the Year competition.[141]

Examining the sales figures for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, TorqueNews wrote, "...it looks as if American Honda Motors has yet another sales success in its ever expanding lineup."[142] After five full months of sales, Honda has sold 19,582 second generation Ridgelines in the US and 2,253 in Canada.[143] According to Reuters, sales demand for the new Ridgeline has outpaced production. --Although vehicles sales in North America have gone down 0.3%, Honda's truck and crossover sales have gone up 3.8%.-- To address this shortfall, Honda will move production of its Acura MDX to its East Liberty Auto Plant in early 2017 in order to increase production of Honda's larger vehicles; the Ridgeline, Pilot, and Odyssey.[144]

Awards and accolades[edit]

References[edit]

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