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Test bench | Honda Ridgeline: a new chance

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Nearly 20 years after its release, the Ridgeline still confuses its audience.

Competition gives color. Successive launches of the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick propel the Honda Ridgeline back into the spotlight. For better and for worse.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY HONDA

Honda Ridgeline

There is no doubt that the offer from Hyundai (Santa Cruz) and Ford (Maverick) had a beneficial effect on Ridgeline sales. Moreover, these have progressed over the past year without any justification. This model has not undergone any transformation worthy of interest.


PHOTO CHRIS TEDESCO, SUPPLIED BY HONDA

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package

So, we must deduce that the Santa Cruz and Maverick have allowed the Ridgeline to remember the good memories of consumers. To those, here is a van capable of carrying out part of the 12 labors of Asterix on an occasional basis.

A sober V6

A towing capacity of 5000 lbs is more than enough for the task. It’s as good as the Santa Cruz and better than the Maverick. Arguably, the Hyundai achieves this “feat” with a four-cylinder engine. True, but Honda’s V6 is almost as economical at the pump, thanks in particular to its cylinder deactivation device, while being smoother in use.


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Its more limited ground clearance and limited appendages (no transfer case, for example) restrict its ability to venture off the beaten track.

The nine-speed automatic transmission that accompanies it contributes to this impression of smoothness with a flexible staging. The Ridgeline doesn’t crumble under the strain of the load it has to move. Its four-wheel drive train with temporary grip comes into play with circumspection and takes care, without arousing the slightest suspicion, to transfer the power between its running gear according to the needs of the moment.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY HONDA

The nine-speed automatic transmission that accompanies Honda’s V6 contributes to this impression of smoothness with a flexible gear ratio.

Despite its utilitarian nature, the Ridgeline proves to be easy to handle. It drives like a car.

No jumpy suspension or randomly precise steering. On the contrary, this Honda displays a certain dynamism and does not treat the occupants on board like vulgar bales of hay. Far from there.


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The Ridgeline’s cabin is probably where it struggles the most to hide its wrinkles.

We can plan long journeys behind the wheel without worrying about the availability of a chiropractor on the way back, whether the dumpster is occupied or not. Cracked, bumpy or holey cobblestones don’t cause unbearably intense seismic tremors like some pickup trucks, including beefier ones like this one. The Ridgeline goes straight and is little distracted by the deformities of the macadam.


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The Ridgeline doesn’t crumble under the strain of the load it has to move.

The steering assistance is well dosed, as is the balance of the suspensory elements. The perfect score, then? Not if your intended use includes off-road use. In this area, this Honda pales in comparison due to its more limited ground clearance and its limited appendages (no transfer case, for example) which restrict its ability to venture off the beaten track.

The Honda Ridgeline in brief

Price range: $45,535 to $54,535
Visible in dealerships: now

WE love

Interior tips
Behavior of a car
Comfort

We love less

Price up
Limited off-road skills
End of career model

Our Verdict

No one can serve two masters.

Versatility

For nearly 20 years, the Ridgeline has honked substantially the same attributes. A dumpster lid that opens on two axes (vertical or horizontal) or a cavity fitted into the dumpster (not always practical). With a little imagination, the Ridgeline can easily move Aunt Lorraine’s three-seater sofa or carry two dirt bikes.


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The Ridgeline is one of the most spacious and has several clever storage spaces.

The Ridgeline’s cabin is probably where it struggles the most to hide its wrinkles.

The emergency foot brake, the windows that refuse to go up automatically (and they descended rather painfully on our test vehicle) and a presentation not very hop life are among our complaints.


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It is possible to transport a bicycle in the passenger compartment.

On the other hand, this Honda is among the most spacious and has several clever storage compartments which, alas, have not all been echoed by the competition.


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The Ridgeline offers a built-in cavity in the bed.

Taking into account the intrinsic qualities of the Ridgeline, its distant design (this model is due to be renewed very soon) and its weaknesses, the Ridgeline is far from representing a godsend. The temptation is great to turn to the Frontier, a more authentic pickup truck with more developed skills, or even to a deceptively puny but more modern pickup truck, like the Santa Cruz.

Both offering more attractive prices, the Ridgeline must, again and again, resolve to the idea that it cannot satisfy two masters.

Monocoque frame


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The Honda Ridgeline Chassis

The Ridgeline’s unibody chassis, similar to that of an automobile, promotes handling, but limits its robustness to pull very heavy loads. That’s why the vans (“the real ones”, will say the amateurs) are based on a more solid scale architecture. Also note that the platform used by the Ridgeline is the same as that of the Pilot and the Odyssey.

17 years ago


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The unveiling of the Honda Ridgeline at the Detroit Auto Show, 2005

Where were you on January 10, 2005 when Honda unveiled the Ridgeline to the world at the Detroit Auto Show? This first generation had aroused astonishment by its architecture (monocoque), but also by the angular profile of the walls of its tipper. A style feature then abandoned during the redesign of this model (2017) which then benefits from a chassis that is both stiffer and lighter. A third generation is expected within the next two years and it will give way, if we believe the rumour, to a hybrid engine.

Share your experience

The Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Acura RDX, Audi Q3, Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Porsche Boxster/Cayman and Volkswagen Jetta (GLi). If you own one of these vehicles or are waiting for delivery, we would love to hear from you.

Technical sheet

Motor
3.5L SOHC V6
Power: 280 hp at 6000 rpm
Torque: 262 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm

Performance
Weight: 2037 kg
Ground clearance: 194mm
Towing capacity: 2267 kg
Gearbox: 9-speed automatic
Drive mode: all-wheel drive
Tyres: 245/60R18

Fuel
Tank capacity: 73.8 L
Recommended Gasoline: Regular
Consumption: 11.9 L/100 km

Dimensions
Wheelbase: 3178mm
Length: 5339mm
Height: 1798mm
Width: 2116 mm (exterior mirrors excluded)



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