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Imagine a world full of hefty, four-seat, eight-cylinder muscle cars. Then, appearing out of thin air,Â theÂ Mazda MX-5 Miata arrives. You can draw parallels. The end goals are similar. But these are strikingly different machines.
Or consider a world in which buyers in search of family friendly SUVs are limited to Chevrolet Suburbans and Ford Expedition ELs. But after decades of dominance, in walks a totally different kind of answer: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
Like the first-generation Honda Ridgeline that bowed more than a decade ago, the all-new second-generation Ridgeline is a pickup truck. There’s a cab and a bed. It can tow and it can haul.
Yet the 2017 Honda Ridgeline is dramatically different from other pickup trucks, and not only in terms of construction. For better or worse, Honda’s truck is a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish. As a result, comparisons with other pickup trucks are, if not unfair, rendered largely invalid.
PICK UP A COMPARISON TEST
A prime example of America’s best-selling line of pickup trucks, the Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 with a short bed, is 22 inches longer than the new Ridgeline (which is three inches longer than the old Ridgeline thanks to three extra inches of wheelbase). Though nearly two feet longer and roughly half a foot taller, the F-150 is only about an inch wider than the Ridgeline. The F-150’s bed is also a few inches deeper and a couple of inches longer. At a minimum, that F-150 can tow 7,100 pounds, or 2,100 pounds more than the Ridgeline.On the other hand, America’s top-selling midsize pickup truck, the Toyota Tacoma, is only two inches longer (in Double Cab short bed form) than the Ridgeline. But the Tacoma is more than four inches narrower, and the Tacoma’s bed is 8.5 inches narrower.
Aside from option packages that can make the Tacoma even more capable off-road, the Toyota provides two extra inches of ground clearance and 29Â°/24Â°/21Â° approach, departure, and breakover angles, respectively, compared with the Ridgeline’s 19Â°/21Â°/19Â° angles.
Payload, topping out at 1,580 pounds in the Ridgeline, is entirely competitive in the midsize segment. But note that in a PickupTrucks.com comparison, editors, “loaded it to 90 percent of that amount,” and the Ridgeline, “sagged worse than any of its competitors, all of which were carrying close to their own maximum payload capacity.”
ALL THE RIDGELINES
(Cross-border equipment differences mean the Ridgeline Sport with which I spent a week is not directly comparable to American Honda’s Sport. For the purposes of this review, equipment levels are in U.S.-speak.)
Truck buyers who want leather seating will need to step up to theÂ $34,720 RTL. The $36,870 RTL-T adds LaneWatch, auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded audio, an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.The $42,410 RTL-E adds memory for the driver’s seat, lane keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, auto high beams, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, sunroof, power sliding rear window, 400-watt bed power outlet, heated steering wheel, conversation mirror, and further audio upgrades,Â including sound in the bed. At $43,910, the Black Edition is essentially an RTL-E blacked out.
All Ridgelines come standard with pushbutton start, cruise, auto up/down windows for the front windows, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The $32,455 RTS adds proximity access, tri-zone climate control, body-colored mirrors, exterior temperature indicator, and fog lights. Â The $33,955 Sport is to the RTS what the Black Edition is to the RTL-E.
It only sounds complicated until you remember thatÂ Honda has no options or option packages.NOT A DUCK
While the typical American truck buyer will look at the Ridgeline and see limitations â€” much less towing capacity, modest payload downgrades, low-slung ride height â€” Honda’s pickup distinguishes itself by beingÂ liberated from naturalÂ pickup truck confines.
Free from the constraints placed on trucks that must be extremely capable, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline rides over rough roads better than any other pickup truck. Far better than any other pickup truck. Far better than most vehicles of any kind.
That ride quality is not associated with excessive floatÂ but ratherÂ impeccable isolation. Likewise, handlingÂ is exceptional, with responses to sudden steering inputs thatÂ resemble an Accord, not a Silverado.
Steering, too, is very nicely weighted, not made to feel artificially heavy so you’ll know, “I’m driving aÂ truck,” but not so artificially light that driving a truck needs to be made to feel easy. With no play, no vast area of deadness at the straightahead, the Ridgeline reveals its roots.It doesn’t ride like a duck, handle like a duck, or steer like a duck.
Must not be a duck.
It doesn’t consume fuel like a duck, either, though the Ridgeline’sÂ thirstÂ certainly resembles the species’ norm. Over the course of a week,Â we observed 19.8 miles per gallon in this Ridgeline Sport. That’s only mildly superior to the 19.4 mpg we saw in an F-150 EcoBoost 2.7 and didn’t quite measure up to the 20.1 mpg results we observed in the Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Crew Cab and Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
Yet much of this test was completed in urban settings with four aboard. The temperature was also consistently below freezing. According to the EPA, the only trucks with better combined ratings are either four-cylinder GM midsizers or diesel-powered.
We may also have been inclined, more often than not, to dip deeply into the Ridgeline’s power reserves. In this power-madÂ age, 280 horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but the 4,485-pound Ridgeline’s six-speed automatic smoothly and quickly shuffles power to all four wheels. Aside from a torque peak arriving 2,000 rpm sooner, I wouldn’t change the powertrain or its sound. There’s no V8 rumble, of course, but Honda builds a V6 that is always happy to rev.
Compared to midsize competitors, the Ridgeline’s rear quarters are demonstrably roomier and certainly more comfortable. While full-size crew cab trucks provide greater space for families, all truck rivals miss out on the Ridgeline’s in-bed trunk and dual-action tailgate.
Everybody will think of different uses for that trunk. Certain organized crime syndicates will be particularly pleased, of course.IMPERFECTIONS
Accessing the expansive rear seat requires entering through a very narrow portal. This might be acceptable to the former owner of a midsize pickup, but it will be annoying for an F-150 Supercrew owner. It’s particularly bothersome when loading an infant seat or extricating a sleeping three-year-old.
Speaking of child seats, Honda seemingly went out of its way to make installation a pain, with tethers that need to go over an extra loop on the seat back before â€” in the case of outboard seats â€” sliding under the lower cushion beside the door. The lower anchors aren’t easily accessed, either.Speaking of access, the in-bed trunk is wonderfully deep. It’s evidence of engineering brilliance. But for petite individuals such as Mrs. Cain, perhaps even for average-sized adults, bagsÂ that areÂ placed in the trunk are rendered inaccessible unless the dual-action tailgate is opened from the side, which requires a lot of pre-arranged space behind the truck.
Back in the cabin, the Ridgeline is bestowed not with the 2018 Odyssey’s improved infotainment unit but rather the knobless and usually slow platform from olderÂ Hondas. At least in this case the Civic’s dreadful steering wheel volume controlÂ is gone in favour of conventional buttons.
Expect a refreshed Ridgeline in a year or so to remedy the tired touchscreen.
SIT RIDGELINE, SIT. GOOD DUCK.
Alas, sometimes walking a fine line is more akin to sitting on the fence than finding middle ground. In the minds of 99 percent of American pickup truck buyers in the fourth-quarter of 2016 and 91 percent of midsize pickup truck buyers, the Honda Ridgeline was simply not enough truck, or at least not enough truck for the money.But comparing the Ridgeline to conventional pickup trucks misses Honda’sÂ point. Clearly, the Ridgeline isn’t going to go down in history as an overwhelming marketplace success. It simply isn’t what most pickup buyers want. Moreover, it’s obvious just from looking at the Ridgeline that it isn’t sufficientlyÂ truck.
It’s also obvious that the Ridgeline isÂ not supposed to be what most pickup buyers want. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline wasn’t designedÂ to be the ultimate truck. It’s intendedÂ to be the ultimate compromise.
via The Truth About Cars http://ift.tt/Jh8LjA January 24, 2017 at 05:16AM