Where is the Honda Ridgeline heading?

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 9, 2011

Sales of the Honda Ridgeline plunged by 49% through August to 5,776 vehicles. There was much optimism about the mid-sized pickup when it was launched in 2005 but since then, not much was done to upgrade it. The fact that its sales have declined isn’t very surprising since there really aren’t any sheet metal changes and improvements in engineering to speak of for the last seven years. The model’s best year was in 2006, the year that it sold 50,193 units. From then on, sales had been dropping.

Only 16,142 units were sold in the full 12-month period, lower by 2% compared to the previous year, according to Autonews.

The Ridgeline is a credible pickup but it does not meet most people’s needs and it really wasn’t meant to do so. It was created off a front-drive platform but it features a 1,500-pound-plus payload capacity and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Four-wheel drive is standard. Ridgeline owners have nothing but good things to say about the pickup.

Its highlights include its towing capacity, its ride and handling, and the standard tailgate that swings down or to the side like a door. Honda isn’t the sort of automaker that likes to discuss future products but a report last month from Automotive News indicated that the Ridgeline will be ended after about two years.

Industry sources say that Honda is considering a smaller pickup to be derived from the CR-V platform. Already, observers don’t think it’s such a good idea to offer a smaller pickup based on a front-drive platform that has lower payload and towing capacity.

The Honda Ridgeline has been upgraded for 2009 and features more than four dozen significant changes as well as a host of new features. All of these changes have given the Ridgeline a more daring feel and appearance that come with its new interior and exterior design and the new stronger engine.

A trailer hitch is now standard for all variants while a number of premium features have also been introduced, such as the rearview backup camera and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, if you opt for it when you buy a Honda Ridgeline RTL with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. The Honda Ridgeline is still the one that has the In-Bed Trunk in the pickup segment. The In-Bed Trunk has a lot of space that gives you secure and hidden storage for luggage, coolers and tool boxes.

The styling for the front and the back of the pickup has also been updated and this has made it look more chiseled and aggressive. The bumpers and grille have been redesigned, while you have new color combinations on the taillamp and the headlamps. When you get inside, you can find refurbished three-dimensional-style instruments, a new design for the steering wheel and improved buttons, displays and controls for the audio, air conditioning, headlights, and cruise control. You also have a 115-volt power source on the Honda Ridgeline RTL as well as an auxiliary and MP3 input jack on the Ridgeline RTL and RTS. Meanwhile all audio systems are now MP3/WMA compatible.

There are also new safety mechanisms onboard, including daytime running lights and active head restraints for the front seats. The wheel wells are wide enough to accommodate 4-foot-wide plywood sheets and the composite cargo bed now has eight cargo tie-down points.

The Honda Ridgeline has four doors and can easily accommodate five passengers and uses a closed-box, unit-body frame that works like a strong ladder frame. Every 2009 Honda Ridgeline pickup is run by a 250-horsepower, 3.5 L VTEC V6 engine. It features a 5-speed automatic transmission, as well as the Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive, or VTM-4 system.

The Environmental Protection Agency gives it a 15/20/17 rating for city/highway/combined fuel economy. It also makes use of independent suspension that has a multi-link suspension design in the back and MacPherson struts in the front for a smoother ride and easier handling.

You also get a built-in tow hitch, oils coolers, transmission, heavy duty brakes, wiring harness, and dual radiation fans, as well as other standard towing equipment. You can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds with a Ridgeline.

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