The Ridgeline Stays: Another Honda Mistake?

2011 Honda Ridgeline

The 2012 Ridgeline, little different from the 2011 (above), remains in Honda’s lineup, finally scotching rumors that the beast would be put out of its misery.

On the contrary, the company maintains the auto-truck will continue to play “a significant role” now and in the future. The fact that sales fell from 12,700 in the first 9 months of 2010 to 6,500 this year shows Honda is probably lying through its teeth.

The earthquake forced a three-month halt in production that didn’t help. The Ridgeline is now being made at Honda’s Lincoln, Ala., plant, but it’s never going to sell in the U.S. for three reasons.

I think it’s the only unibody truck out there (good), but it doesn’t have the heft or the power of its competition, the F-150 and Silverado. It’s too much car and not enough truck. And it’s one of Honda’s ugliest designs ever.

2012 Honda RidgelineIt has nothing like the towing or payload capacity of its competitors, nor the power—though the vehicle seems designed for the occasional, not the regular, truck user. It has great crash protection. The new vehicle gets a Sport package option (right) with new wheels, black grille, fog lights, etc. But that isn’t going to make it sell.

It’s a crew cab but rather small inside, with uncomfortable seats and somewhat cheesy materials. Price for the 2011 base RT version starts at $29,150 and rises to $37,080 if you want the fancier RTL with the nav system, rear-view camera, leather trim, etc.

A slight boost in fuel economy for 2012 gives 15/20/17 mpg (city, highway, combined), which is nothing to write home about. The 3.5-liter V6 gives 250 hp, with no other engine options; you get a good 4-wheel-drive traction system.

As with some of its other cars, Honda seems, well, stuck in its recent past. There’s just no movement here to meet the market, offer good clean design or bring buyers back with the balance of quality, reliability and practical style that Honda cars used to provide.

It’s a sad story, and the new Ridgeline seems to be only the most recent chapter.

People seem to view vehicles in categories, and the Ridgeline just doesn’t fit. Do you agree?

—jgoods

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4 Comments

  1. It’s listed as a mid size, not full size. Great truck! How many full size fords,chevy’s and dodges are not readily pulling destroyers or battleships around daily. Most, I would guess.

  2. All the worst of a pickup and none of the best of a big truck. Ironically, there are folks who insist on buying Honda, even when they’re ugly (the truck, not the people), get bad mileage, can’t tow much, haul much cargo, or have a reasonable price. As to the looks, even people with bad taste need to buy new vehicles, but remember the typical Honda customer was burned over and over by American car companies and simply won’t go back.

  3. A couple friends of mine have Ridgelines and we refer to them as “An SUV with a back pocket”. If anything, it’s more SUV-like than car-like. And I definitely agree that it is somewhat small inside compared to a standard truck.

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