Last year Honda announced plans to redesign the reprehensible Ridgeline, and while they originally planned to proceed with production of the wannabe pickup during the design phase, low sales numbers forced the automaker to pull the model from the line prematurely.
Unfortunately, we only have “less than two years” to enjoy its absence.
In December of 2013, a press release from Honda announced that a new generation of the Ridgeline would be arriving within two years, and based on that information, we expect the hopelessly redesigned Ridgeline to hit the market late in 2015 as a 2016 model. As expected, Honda is keeping unnecessarily quiet about the sure-to-be unimpressive features, but we do have a few ideas about what can be expected of the all-new Ridgeline.
Honda’s claim to fame for the Ridgeline has always been that it’s “the first truck of its kind to be built on a closed-box unibody platform.” Makes it sound pretty damn revolutionary—until you realize it’s the first of its kind simply because other automakers actually research their demographics and are smart enough to know that their customers don’t want to buy a pickup that shares a platform with a goddamn minivan.
That isn’t likely to stop them from repurposing the frame of the Honda Odyssey once again for the upcoming Ridgeline, however. I mean come on, it would be a damn shame to have to get rid of such a revolutionary, industry-first feature. While they’re at it they might as well go all in and stick the high-maintenance HondaVAC of the Odyssey in the back of the Ridgeline. As if it could suck any more than it already does.
If the underpinnings of the Odyssey return for the redesign, you can expect the all-new sport utility truck (SUT) to fall behind in the towing and hauling department. Through the standard 250-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine found in the past, earlier generation models have been able to achieve a 5,000-pound capacity, which is just 500 pounds more than the Pilot, the automaker’s largest SUV. Needless to say, when your SUVs are pulling the same ratings as your truck, you know you’re doing something wrong.
The Deceiving Honda Ridgeline
Despite the fact that the Ridgeline is built on the same platform as the Odyssey and offers nearly the same towing capacity of the Pilot, when it comes to fuel economy, the pickup has always been Honda’s biggest failure. The Odyssey is capable of returning up to 28 mpg on the highway and the Pilot tops out at 25 mpg, but past models of the Ridgeline have only been able to return a shameful 21 mpg, which Honda touts as “one of the highest-mileage and lowest-emissions ratings in its class.”
That claim is technically true as the Ridgeline is actually classified as a sport utility truck and not a full on pickup, but as the automaker tends to pit the SUT against the half-ton offerings from both Ford and Chevy, the best-in-class economy declaration is severely misleading. Both the F-150 and the Silverado are able to sip fuel at about 23 mpg on the highway, and they’re able to tow and haul a hell of a lot more than the Ridgeline. Even the 360-hp 5.0-liter V8 of the 2014 Ford F-150—which is able to tow up to 8,300 pounds, mind you—has the ability to return the exact same efficiency ratings as the Ridgeline.
With such a disadvantage in terms of power and fuel economy, you would expect that Honda would price the Ridgeline far below it’s more attractively-equipped competitors, but once again that is not the case. With a starting price of $29,575 for the 2014 model, the Ridgeline sets buyers back about $4,000 more than those who opt for the F-150 or the Silverado. Thankfully, Honda has only been able to scam just over a quarter of a million people over the last nine years. It could be much worse.
2016 Honda Ridgeline Rumors
As mentioned before, in typical Honda fashion, details about the 2016 model of the Ridgeline are being suppressed. All that has been released is the artwork that we have provided above. As you can see, it’s no more than a couple of lines, but it gives us a few hints about what to expect for the upcoming model. For one, it appears that Honda is finally giving in and scrapping those god-awful sloped truck bed sides to give the Ridgeline a more conventional look, but still, there’s no arguing that if the automaker really expects the all-new Ridgeline to compete, they’re going to have to do more than alter the design.
For one, the price for the 2016 Honda Ridgeline is going to have to come down significantly. It may sound like a tall order considering the redesign is likely to come with a slew of new features, a more efficient engine and a potentially brand-new platform, but even with every feature in the book included, it’s going to be hard to convince buyers who are loyal to more established pickup brands such as Ford and Chevy to make the switch when they have to shell out 30 grand—especially if the output and fuel economy numbers don’t improve.
To be honest, I don’t see Honda pulling it off. The Ridgeline needs more than just a facelift, and although the automaker is taking their sweet time to get the all-new model on the road, based on its rough history, I have a difficult time believing that the Ridgeline will stand the test of time.
We will find out when the 2016 Honda Ridgeline release date arrives late next year.