The Cool Back Story On This Vintage Chevy Truck Restored By - Honda America?
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
The Honda Ridgeline will never be enough truck for many fans of full-size pickups, HD pickups, or those that think a truck has to be built in a certain way, or look a certain way. Honda knows that. However, there are midsize truck buyers who are willing to consider a truck that can do many things better than the competition because of its differences. Whichever camp you fall into, we think that you might like to hear what we found when we drove the 2017 Ridgeline.
Before we go too far, let’s get one thing out of the way. The 2017 Ridgeline AWD RTL-E we tested is the best-driving truck we have ever been in. By that, we mean when you turn it, accelerate, brake, or cruise, it is sharper, stronger, better performing, and more comfortable than midsize trucks we have driven like the Colorado and Tacoma. It blows full-size trucks out of the water. It isn’t even close. (In fairness to the Ford Raptor, I have never driven that truck).
The first thing you notice is the chassis rigidity and body dynamics. The Ridgeline’s most obvious characteristic is the lack of any flex, squat, or dive. I was in a Tacoma TRD Off-Road just two weeks ago, and that truck is the polar opposite of this Ridgeline on any road. In the woods, that Tacoma would be everyone’s choice. On the road, the Ridgeline should be.
The next thing that is apparent is the comfort of the cabin. The Ridgeline has the most comfortable cabin by a wide margin among its peers.
The seat is outstanding, and isn’t too low, like in the Tacoma line. Ergonomics are good, but we did have some minor gripes with the infotainment controls. It’s still a mystery to us why automakers take away the volume and tuner knobs.
The Ridgeline handles so well it defies easy comparison. I have spent a week in the new Pilot and this vehicle handles better and is just as comfortable. There is nothing sedan-like about the Ridgeline so that comparison makes no real sense. The turn-in is the hardest sensation to describe. Let’s just say you’d love it.
The engine will feel familiar to anyone with an Acura or Honda V6. Powerful, quiet and perfectly matched to its transmission. 280 hp is plenty for this vehicle, and it pulls from low RPMs. Floor it and it leaps forward and snaps off five, smooth, fast shifts you barely feel, but can sense, on its way up to sixth gear. Having tested many vehicles now with seven, eight, or nine gears what is becoming apparent is that too many gears means that the vehicle hunts for the most fuel efficient (weakest possible) gear and lugs the engine in normal driving. The Ridgeline never does.
So, it being a Honda, its usefulness is not on par with the GMC, Chevy, or Toyota trucks, right? No. In fact, the Ridgeline is 50 inches wide in the cargo bed between the wheel wells. Honda says that is the best in class, and we will take their word for it. What we do know is that 50-inches is more than 48, which is the width of Sheetrock and plywood. So you don’t have to tip that stuff sideways when you haul it. The locking tailgate can drop or swing to the right. It is hard to find that anything but a bonus. Under the cargo bed is a lockable trunk large enough for a full-size beer cooler or a golf bag. Or skip the cooler and just fill the truck with ice and frosties. When you’re done tailgating, pull the drain plug.
Inside the cabin, the Ridgeline has the most cargo area in its class under the rear seat, and the most when that seat is folded up. Honda uses the example of a mountain bike. With the Ridgeline, the bike can go in whole. With the competitors, the front wheel has to come off.
The 18-inch, 60-series tires that Honda picked make a huge difference in this truck’s ride and handling. Honda chose Firestone Destination AT rubber. No all-weather tire has ever felt better in the snow to us.
The Honda Ridgeline we tested had Honda Sensing. If you are not familiar with the technology it includes auto-braking (which every vehicle will soon have), adaptive cruise control, and lane centering. On long highway slogs, the system reduces fatigue, and my personal ass was saved by the same auto-braking system in an Acura about 18 months back. That makes you a quick convert.
Honda makes it no secret that the chassis started as a Pilot chassis. However, 50% of the parts are unique, and Honda built upon a great foundation. One thing that we spotted doing our research is that the Ridgeline’s final assembly point is in Lincoln Alabama. Honda uses a U.S.-made engine, and U.S.-made transmission in the Ridgeline and the total content is 75% U.S./Canadian sourced. Thumbs up.
The Ridgeline series is not everything to all truck owners. GM and Toyota do a much better job at that, and Honda hasn’t tried to top the Canyon Duramax or Tacoma TRD Pro. However, what the Ridgeline does well it does so much better than its peers, it makes you start thinking crazy things like this Honda might just be the best midsize truck for many people.
Vehicle: 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD RTL-E
Notable standard features of this trim:
- AWD and Towing Package
- Honda Sensing
- Heated, Power Leather Front Seats
- Heated Steering Wheel
- CarPlay & Android Auto
- LED Headlights with Auto High Beams
- Steel-Reinforced Composite Cargo Bed
- Remote Start and Smart Key
Price $42,270 Including Destination and Delivery
EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy – 21 MPG Combined, 18 City, 25 Highway (Regular Unleaded)
Images of Ridgeline in Blue by John Goreham. Other images courtesy of Honda.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
No story has generated as much interest lately among GM-Trucks.com readers than the GM concrete block bed test video vs. Ford. Our readers had a lot to say. A couple of those who offered comments mentioned that they could foresee composite beds like those used in the Tacoma and Ridgeline as the future choice of designers.
In an attempt to jump in on the discussion, Honda has offered its own video showing the results of dumping hundreds of pounds of concrete blocks into the bed of its truck, the new 2017 Ridgeline. Unlike the Ford, which suffered punctures, and the GM truck, which had dents, the Ridgeline is basically undamaged.
The tailgate and under-bed cargo area were also unfazed by the test. What say you GM-Trucks faithful? Is "steel or aluminum" the wrong question?
More On Ridgeline here.
- Ridgeline Overview
- Ridgeline - What's It Like To Drive?
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
GM-Trucks was unable to attend the media launch of the new Honda Ridgeline. To get a first-hand account of the new truck, we reached out our colleague, Parks McCants. Parks is a Honda brand expert we know from some fellow publications.
GM-Trucks: Before we get into this Parks, we know you are a Honda expert, but how much pickup experience have you had?
PM: In my four decades of driving I've owned every major domestic and import brand pickup truck available in North America. I'm a huge Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota fan.
GM-Trucks: What is the Ridgeline like in person when you see it?
PM: The greatest change I note for Ridgeline is a more conventional truck-like styling, beginning with the noticeable conventional truck bed side profile and split side panel.
GM-Trucks: How does this Honda feel on the road? Compared to a Chevy Colorado for example?
PM: The new Ridgeline presents the "flattest", most refined and bump-free ride in the midsize truck segment. Honda engineering has gone to great lengths to reduce or eliminate engine, road and wind noise to the cab through active noise cancellation, much-improved body seam sealing, triple door seals, acoustic windshield, side windows and more. I found Ridgeline's 10-way power adjusted and heated river's seat to be exceptionally comfortable. Also noted is an all new front and rear independent, hydraulic mount isolated, and "reactive amplitude dampened" suspension for Ridgeline. In an off-the-line acceleration test, ZERO torque steer or traction loss was noted in Ridgeline.
GM-Trucks: What about off pavement?
PM: The Ridgeline truly shines is in the dirt. When driven back to back to a Chevy Colorado or Toyota Tacoma (they were on site,) the '17 Ridgeline smoked the competition in overall ride comfort and off-road stability, hands down. If I were to change anything here it would be the rather "loose" electronically assisted steering. Honda engineering tells us that the steering wheel response feel is adjusted to road speed, and is initially set for ease of city maneuverability and parking.
GM-Trucks: Overall, what would you tell people about this new 2017 Honda Ridgeline pickup? What is special about it?
PM: I've never driven a better road balanced midsize multitasking light truck offering than 2017 Honda Ridgeline. While I do appreciate the two-way locking tailgate, and unique cargo bed trunk, you could take all of that away, and the ride, road handling, and cab comfort would sell me on the new Ridgeline. The rest is simply icing on the cake. Unibody or not, this truck will change people's perception of what a midsize truck can and should be.
GM-Trucks would like to thank Parks McCants for taking time to speak with us. You can read more about the Ridgeline by Parks McCants here.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Every automaker with a current mid-size truck offering has the same problem. The darn customers won’t stop clamoring for more. Toyota, GMC, and Chevy have all boosted production as much as possible and yet; buyers won’t let the trucks sit on lots for more than couple weeks. This is the hottest segment in America today. Honda just showed up, and it is bringing a vehicle that many who have seen it think will do extremely well with homeowners, outdoor enthusiasts, and maybe even a few small business owners.
This is Honda’s second attempt at a mid-size pickup. Like the previous generation, which skipped a year of production in 2015/2016, this one starts with a front-drive platform (sort of) and is a unibody vehicle (sort of). We say “sort of” because the platform sharing it does in its family is with vehicles that are intended to be primarily all-wheel drive and all of which are built to be all-road capable and off-road competent. Honda has no plans to challenge the Tacoma TRD Pro. That said, luxury truck sales are increasing, and the Ridgeline is designed to be better at almost everything the luxury versions of the Tacoma, Colorado, and Canyon try to do. Honda says it is quieter, has a much better ride, and will offer four modes including sand, snow, mud, and normal.
The Ridgeline starts off strong by skipping the four-cylinder engine altogether. It is only offered with a smooth, powerful V6 engine. I’ve owned three modern Honda V6 engines and know they are responsive, reliable, and efficient. With 280 hp and the best V6 MPG in this class, the Ridgeline's will be no exception. The Ridgeline will be a legitimate hauler of boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and homeowner trailers. With a 5,000-pound max towing rating it can even tow a Spec Miata racecar, plus tires and trailer. It won’t tempt Canyon Duramax customers, but it isn’t trying to.
The first thing that came to my mind when I researched the Ridgeline was "How big is this thing?" The answer is surprising. It has the largest cabin in its class. If you have been in a Pilot or Acura MDX lately you know just how well Honda does vehicles this size. The bed is 64 inches long. So it is not a 5-foot bed, nor is it a 6-foot bed. It is a 5' 4" bed. Honda wanted one truck, not four configurations and this seems pretty sensible. Honda says the Ridgeline has segment leading rigidity. Check out the graphic. Notice that it has a ladder frame under the unibody. Those side members and tailgate components are fully-boxed frame members. You won't find that on a Tacoma.
These are just the basic facts. To learn more we spoke with a Honda expert who just returned from spending a day testing the new Ridgeline. That report follows tomorrow.
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I'll be at the Minneapolis show in February!
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