Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E AWD: More Truck Than Its Competitors

Highlight: This is the only truck on the market with built-in tailgate speakers.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $42,410 (base model: $30,415)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; electronic stability control system; daytime running lights; a capless fuel filler door; a tire pressure monitoring system; a hill assist system; a rearview camera; a compact spare tire; and a vehicle stability assist system

Standard Equipment (RT model): 18-inch wheels; two wheel drive; a 6-speed transmission; a dual action tailgate (swing open and up/down); a rear privacy glass; a/c; power door and tailgate locks; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; rear seat heater ducts; and 12-volt power outlets; a 5-inch LCD infotainment screen; in-bed trunk; 8 hooks for heavy duty in bed tie down; a/c; a push button starter system;and cloth manually operated front seats

Standard Equipment (RTL-E model): power front seats (with two way memory for driver’s side); leather trimmed seats; heated front seats; a remote engine start system; a high capacity radiator with high power fans; a lane keep assist system; an adaptive cruise control system; automatic high beam headlights; a blindspot system with cross traffic monitor; a heavy duty transmission cooler; a tri-zone ventilation system; a power sunroof; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; a leather wrapped heated steering wheel; an 8-speaker/540-watt audio Satellite/HD radio; a truck bed audio system; and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system 

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: an AM/FM 7-speaker 200-watt audio system

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/280-hp

Towing Capacity: 3,500 (FWD)/5,000 (AWD)

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:


RTL Black Edition

What’s New: After being absent from Honda’s portfolio for a few years, the second-generation Ridgeline, which finally looks like a truck, returns with a bang. The new Ridgeline takes on many of the characteristics of the Pilot. With the exception of the truck bed, the Ridgeline rides and drives like the Pilot. Unlike the Pilot, the vehicles suspension system and hubs have been strengthen. The Ridgeline also has the most versatile pick up bed in the industry, offering a number of segment firsts.   

Why: Honda’s second generation midsize pick up is a segment buster in every sense. The 2017 Ridgeline is roomier, offers more luxury amenities, a powerful standard engine and a truck bed that will makes all of the competitors feel as though they need to go back to the drawing board. Its available as both a two wheel drive or an all-wheel drive model, depending upon the configuration.

Besides a new design, the Ridgeline is now powered by a fuel-efficient 3.5-liter engine, with a 6-speed transmission. The vehicle also continues to be available in a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive configuration.

However, the real story here is the truck’s bed. It has the only four-foot wide flat bed space in the segment. The bed also extends near seven feet. The bed also includes a lockable in bed trunk. Yes, that’s right, a storage space inside of the bed. Added to that, the Ridgeline is outfitted with an industry exclusive tailgate. The tailgate swings open like a car door or it can open up or down like a traditional truck bed. Moreover, the vehicle is great for tailgating too, with a built in speaker system, which is housed in the bed of the truck. So, not only is this vehicle capable of hauling and towing, its an all-around lifestyle trunk.

Furthermore, the Ridgeline’s unibody construction, as opposed to the traditional body on frame design, makes the ride and comfort of this truck a standout in the segment. The Ridgeline drives and handle more like the car-like Pilot than a traditional firm truck.

Lastly, depending upon the trim, the Ridgeline can be accessorized with such high-tech safety features as the forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking, a radar-activated cruise control system and a lane departure warning system.

But: Despite its new design, traditional truck buyers might still shy away from giving the vehicle a second look due to the automaker’s questionable attempt to get into the segment with its first generation truck. Also being that the vehicle only is available with an all-wheel drive system as opposed to a traditional four-wheel drive system could be a concern too. In order to combat this, Honda has infused a push button system which helps buyers gain traction while plying through snow, mud or sand.

Furthermore, there is only one powertrain. No diesel or 4-cylinder is available in the Ridgeline. Added to that there is no advance 9-speed transmission on the Ridgeline like in the higher line Pilots. The 9-speed transmission slightly bumps up gas mileage. Moreover, truck buyers would probably prefer knobs and switches to operate the touchscreen infotainment system, which houses the ventilation system, audio system and the nav system.

Lastly, Honda’s second generation truck is priced thousands more than many of its segment competitors. In fact, the base pricing overlaps with many of the fullsize base models, too. So, while Honda’s new trucks are much better than its predecessor, its making an attempt to play in both segments or no pun intended, drive down the middle of the road.

Verdict: As consumer tastes have shifted from cars to trucks and crossovers. Honda is right on time with its all new pick up. In fact, Honda beat both Ford and Dodge in rejoining this segment. Yes, the new Ridgeline, which is being built in Alabama, has got everything that was lacking in the first generation truck. Honda has also managed to set a new standard for midsize trucks, using a unibody frame, while offering a number of segment firsts.

Competition: Chevy Colorado; GMC Canyon; Nissan Frontier; and Toyota Tacoma

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