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Honda scores with new pickup line

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Honda's introduction of the convention-bending 2006 midsize Ridgeline pickup has created quite a stir, but this type of vehicle is nothing new for the Japanese auto maker: In fact, its first mass-produced four-wheel vehicle was a mini sports truck.

The Ridgeline can trace its heritage back to the T360 of 1963, a minuscule motoring device with a comically cute face, a tiny two-seater cab and a wheelbarrow sized box out back. It claimed "sports truck" status by having a motorcycle-size 360 cc, four-cylinder, twin-cam, four-carburetor engine mounted mid-ships under the floor.

A slightly larger and more conventional P800 followed in 1966, the Vamos Honda 4, a mini-moke type recreational vehicle in 1970 and the somewhat Element-like Life Step Van of 1972. So trucks aren't really anything new for Honda, just something it has rediscovered with its CR-V, Pilot and Acura MDX SUVs and the van-like Element.

Admittedly none of those early trucklets were what rugged North American truck types would deign to call a "real" pickup, and some aren't so sure about the Ridgeline either. But that's only because it doesn't comfortably fit the ultraconservative mould of the rest. Pickup trucks haven't changed in any really essential way for more than half a century. The Ridgeline's rivals are all front-engined, rear or four-wheel-drive, body-on-frame vehicles with a variety of cab styles and different-sized boxes.

Unlike fellow Japanese firms Toyota, Nissan and Mazda (which have stuck to this format), Honda, as it has been wont to do over the years, took a fresh look at the pickup market. It then decided to target a rather select group within it that includes the five million North American households that own Honda motorcycles, ATVs and other products.

It was felt many of these people might just appreciate hauling their recreational vehicles and other stuff around with something a little more modern in concept.

The major difference between the Alliston, Ont.-built Ridgeline and conventional pickups is its unibody, rather than body-on-frame, design -- not quite as shocking a concept as many might think. Famed off-road vehicle producers such as Jeep and Land Rover gave up their separate frames for this type of construction some years ago.

Honda claims the Ridgeline's structure is almost two-and-a-half times stiffer than the best body-on-frame design in body-bending rigidity, and 20-per-cent stiffer in rear torsional rigidity.

But there's more to the Ridgeline than just a stiff structure. Underneath is another pickup truck novelty, a fully-independent suspension, something also now becoming common in the SUV world. MacPherson struts are used up front with a multi-link and trailing arm system in the rear. Wheels are 17-inchers shod with all-season tires.

This suspension delivers a decidedly firm, but compliant ride and handling that makes the Ridgeline a pleasant vehicle to drive on a back road or on town streets, with nicely weighted steering, too. It feels decidedly like a pickup truck, though, and its overall size, 475 mm or so longer than Honda's Pilot SUV, makes it a tad tricky in mall parking lots.

The Ridgeline isn't a serious heavy hauler, but its towing rating of 2,268 kg is more than the Chevy Colorado can tug, although less than the Mazda B4000 or Dodge Dakota can manage.

Box size is limited, as it is in all these five-passenger pickup designs, but Honda made sure the Ridgeline's would hold a full-size ATV (with the tailgate lowered) and added something extra, a below-the-load floor bin with a capacity of 240 litres, a lockable top and a drain plug. This is a great place to stow golf clubs, muddy riding gear, gas cans, etc., and a very clever idea. But wait, there's more. Access to it is made easy by a tailgate that swings open to the side as well as operating conventionally.

To ensure decent performance when towing or laden to its 705 kg payload, it is fitted with a 3.5-litre, single overhead cam, variable valve timing-equipped V-6 engine producing 255 hp at 5,750 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. This is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission (the only choice) and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. No low-range transfer case is offered.

This motor delivers more than decent performance, getting the 2,043 kg Ridgeline to 100 km/h in 9.3 seconds and from 80 km/h to 120 km/h in 7.7 seconds. Fuel economy is rated at 14.4 L/100 km city and 10.1 L/100 km highway.

The Ridgeline is available in three well-equipped versions, an LX (with 247 hp) starting at $35,200, a $39,700 EX-L and the $44,400 EX-L NAVI (for navigation system) model as tested.

Standard equipment incorporates such things as air conditioning, cruise control, power windows (including centre backlight window), mirrors, locks, ABS, stability control, front, side and side curtain airbags, info display, tire pressure monitoring system and CD audio system. The pricier versions come with leather trim, power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, moon roof, 160-watt, six CD in-dash audio system and finally the navigation system.

There's room for five in the wide, SUV-like interior of this good-looking and well-equipped vehicle, and access is easy through the large rear doors. It's comfortably quiet at highway speeds, there are plenty of handy storage spots, mirrors are large and effective, controls are thoughtfully located, switchgear has a nice quality touch and the nav system is easy enough to figure out. An odd lapse is the gearshift lever, a crude and heavy-to-operate affair that even after a week I was still yanking past the drive position.

I won't, as some have, give Honda credit for "re-inventing" the pickup truck with the Ridgeline, but they've certainly taken it in an interesting new direction.

globeauto@globeandmail.ca

***

Specifications

Honda Ridgeline EX-L NAVI

Type: Mid-size pickup

Price: $44,400

Engine: 3.5 litre SOHC V-6

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Output: 255 hp/ 252 lb-ft of torque

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.4 city/10.1 highway

Alternatives: Toyota Tacoma, Dodge Dakota, Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon

Like: Styling, decent performance and neat touches such as the below bed storage bin

Don't like: That clunky and unrefined gear change lever


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/sto...ecialGlobeAuto/
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Honda's introduction of the convention-bending 2006 midsize Ridgeline pickup has created quite a lot of BS, but this is nothing new for the Japanese auto maker: In fact, its first mass-produced four-wheel vehicle was a mini sports truck. And here 40 years later, they still can't make a truck that Americans will buy.


I won't, as some have, give Honda credit for "re-inventing" the pickup truck with the Ridgeline, but they've certainly taken it in an interesting new direction. Backwards to the days of the Subaru BRAT and Ford Ranchero.





Edited for clarity. Edited by Oldsmoboi
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Let the bashing begin... :( Poor Ridgeline, such a great truck, yet the stubborn American buyers still won't part with their crappy handling, outdated trucks.
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People (supposedly) buy trucks to haul things. I'd love to see a Ridgeline try to haul 4 people, enough camping gear to last them the weekend and a boat. Not a little boat, a big boat. The kind of boat you buy to make sure your neighbor knows who has the larger penis.
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Let the bashing begin...  :(

Poor Ridgeline, such a great truck, yet the stubborn American buyers still won't part with their crappy handling, outdated trucks.

[post="44702"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


It's a truck not a sports car. It's ment to haul things. If it can't do that it's not much of a truck is it?
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Let the bashing begin...  :(

Poor Ridgeline, such a great truck, yet the stubborn American buyers still won't part with their crappy handling, outdated trucks.

[post="44702"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



Please for the love of all things holy tell me you're f$%king kidding! :blink:

The Ridgeline succeds as a pickup like the SSR succedes at stealing sales away from Porsche Boxters. Your living in a fantasy world if you think the Ralphstain ever had a glimer of hope in stealing away a true pickup sale.
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The most the Ridgeline did was put another nail in the Baja coffin.
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Poor honda; such a mediocre, non-class-leading truck and the practical American buyers still won't swallow the corporate PR pablum for an overpriced, underpowered, under-capable car-esque cute ute.


Edited for clarity. ;)
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I'm not saying the ridgeline can do anything a full size pickup truck can do. It is not designed to at all. I drive an '04 Sierra almost every day for work. The poor handling, squeeky bed, slow 1st-2nd shift, and bad brakes after only 14k miles are making me hate it. The Ridgeline would make a better condidate for my work entirely if it weren't for the small bed.

I guess what I'm saying is current "trucks" are very outdated in their design, like the article states, and something NEEDS to change. People bash the Ridgeline because it isn't as good as a "real truck". The Ridgeline has a superior chassis, the only downside is its low displacement engine and lack of a low-range gear ratio. Honda does need to offer an ext cab 2 door version, with similar seating, but a longer bed (for my purposes at least). But then again, they aren't trying to compete with "real trucks" at least yet. I think GM, Ford, and Dodge need to get with it, and start building their trucks from the ground up, rather than starting at the frame up.

the practical American buyers


So practical is when you buy a large truck or SUV to drive to the grocery store and your desk-job at work every day? Since for a large part of truck and SUV drivers, that's all they do.


Your living in a fantasy world if you think the Ralphstain ever had a glimer of hope in stealing away a true pickup sale.


Am I really? People who need current trucks for their intended purpose, whether it be towing a large boat, or hauling a lot of stuff, then for now, yes. For people who drive them just because they feel safer in a big vehicle, think they need them, feel manly driving them, or think driving a car is for pansies, then is it so hard to believe?
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So practical is when you buy a large truck or SUV to drive to the grocery store and your desk-job at work every day? Since for a large part of truck and SUV drivers, that's all they do.

[post="44790"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


To me, it seems more practical to buy a Ridgeline instead of a traditional truck for the purposes of day-to-day transport.
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To me, it seems more practical to buy a Ridgeline instead of a traditional truck for the purposes of day-to-day transport.

[post="44798"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


That was the whole point of the ridgeline
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I guess what I'm saying is current "trucks" are very outdated in their design, like the article states, and something NEEDS to change.

Define "outdated". Is utility, practicality and versitility 'outdated', because the traditional truck has those features in plentitude- where's honda? 'Needs to change' is primarily a conjecture of marketing departments. 'like the article says'??: clueless 'journalists': they're lending creditibility to the term 'sports truck' in reference to a 22-CI honda crapbox that likely shared another 'sporty' touch with the early honda car: chain drive- a feature the rest of the passenger vehicle industry abandoned sometime around 1915 as inferior.

The Ridgeline has a superior chassis, the only downside is its low displacement engine and lack of a low-range gear ratio.

Define "superior". By what unit of measure and by exactly how much & under what criteria is this alledged 'superior' rating achieved? Who verified the testing? Will it handle a head-on impact from a 7000-lb H1 as well as a boxed hydroformed F-150 will? Can the honda exceed it's factory load & tow ratings by over 100% as a Chevrolet truck can? Is it more economical to repair in the event of a major collision?
For Christ's sake- why doesn't the tailgate align with the bed tops? honda: ever hear of a lil' design element called an S-curve to match them up?

I think GM, Ford, and Dodge need to get with it, and start building their trucks from the ground up, rather than starting at the frame up.

Is it all about the unibody aspect for you then? Because clearly the truck market is not in agreement. Or maybe that's not a selling point after all.

So practical is when you buy a large truck or SUV to drive to the grocery store and your desk-job at work every day? Since for a large part of truck and SUV drivers, that's all they do.

"large part": provide numbers, please. Don't have any, you say? <_<
And how is pulling a usually-empty 4-foot bed around any more practical than pulling a usually empty 6 foot bed around? The argument is without merit. Next you'll be condemning cars with empty trunks.

For people who drive them just because they feel safer in a big vehicle, think they need them, feel manly driving them, or think driving a car is for pansies, then is it so hard to believe?

This is the same argument usable against any sports car or 'drivers car': it's totally not necessary yet the grand thing we have here in the U.S.A. is freedom of choice. If someone wants a truck yet has nothing to haul, who gives a tin sh!t.
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The Ridgeline is further proof of the blurring of conventional vehicle lines. A pick up, used for hauling and towing, is no longer used for hauling and towing. I will grant you that. However, if I wanted a car, I would buy a car. It strikes me that the Odyssey is a better choice than the Ridgeline - more space and can haul more people, too. Honda is just offering another choice, and that is just great. Those who are intent on shafting the Big Three have yet another choice to spend their money and ship it to Japan Inc. More power to them.
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QUOTE(empowah @ Nov 18 2005, 01:09 AM)
To me, it seems more practical to buy a Ridgeline instead of a traditional truck for the purposes of day-to-day transport.



That was the whole point of the ridgeline

[post="44809"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



I don't understand how you think the Ridgeline is only meant for "day-to-day" driving?? If it can't really do anything a (real) truck can do, then why wouldn't someone just buy an Accord, or Oddyssey? I would think that one of those vehicles would be much more suited for "day-to-day" driving rather than a gas guzzeling Ridgeline.

The Ridgeline serves no real purpose. Edited by BrewSwillis
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If this $hit wasn't so damn funny I'd be depressed about all the ignorance on this board. Just as Balthzar mentioned, it's somehow okay to haul around an empty Unibody truck and yet us BOF Truck owners are assholes right? At least a pile of lumber in the bed of a Silverado will not prevent access to the spare tire. Dumbass Honda. BrewSwillis: Useless is right! The Ralphstain is like a Submarie wiht a screen door. Edited by Sixty8panther
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To me, it seems more practical to buy a Ridgeline instead of a traditional truck for the purposes of day-to-day transport.

[post="44798"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



That was the whole point of the ridgeline

[post="44809"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Problem is trucks are like sports cars. You buy a Corvette knowing you can go 185mph, even though you never will. You buy a truck knowing you can tow 10,000 pounds, even though you never will. The Ridgeline doesn't give people the same "If I have to, I can" feeling you get with an F-150 or Silverado.
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I think that Honda has invented a new niche - a car-like Truck. Some truck capabilities with car-like handling/ride. I *do* think that Honda marketing is full of crap. The message their advertising department delivers and what the truck can capably do are two entirely different things. Their advertising proclaims it "a true half-ton truck" and shows the truck ruggedly off-roading on some southwestern mesa. While the truck is can truly a carry a half-ton, it's offroad capabilities are lackluster - and the Ridgeline pales considerably when compared to the Silverado "half-ton", the F-150 "half-ton" and the Ram "half-ton". Granted, by measurement, the Ridgeline can support the claim of half-ton -- but people's expectation's of what a half-ton pickup can do have become defined by the Silverado's, the Ram's, and the F-150's. But when your marketing calls you a "true half-ton", then you are open to people's interpretation and expectations of half-ton capabilities -- and that means so much more than what the Ridgeline currently delivers. The thing I don't see *any* reporter covering is Honda's consistant late-to-the-party performances. Last to develop a V6 sedan. A V8? Minivans? Trucks? Honda has been the last entrant to all of them. Honda has been notoriously slow when entering a market. Some may claim that it's because Honda approaches everything cautiously and only enters a market when they have a superior design; but that wouldn't explain the first-gen Odyssey minivan, would it?
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Type: Mid-size pickup

Price: $44,400

Engine: 3.5 litre SOHC V-6


I think that says it right there. A V6-powered, mid-size pickup. For $44,400!?

I seem to recall the Silverado SS costing LESS than that...
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I think that says it right there.  A V6-powered, mid-size pickup.  For $44,400!?

I seem to recall the Silverado SS costing LESS than that...

[post="44947"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Just to clarify, that figure is in Canadian dollars.
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What about the completely unimpressive fuel economy and novelty bed-in-trunk storage that becomes a massive burden when you have to change a flat? Let's unload the bed and the trunk then get the tire. Thanks, Honda.
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What about the completely unimpressive fuel economy and novelty bed-in-trunk storage that becomes a massive burden when you have to change a flat? Let's unload the bed and the trunk then get the tire. Thanks, Honda.

[post="44978"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



Lets look how ridiculious your arguments are:

Fuel economy: The 16/21 mpg is right in the middle depending on what other awd/4wd pu you compare it to. Unimpressive compared to what?

Flat tire/trunk: Yes, I get a flat tire every single day, it is such a chore a burden. Same argument you make could be used for putting the spare tire in a car in the trunk.

Come keep grasping at straws.
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If GM had made a Ridgeline type vehicle, it would be the best idea on this board. Since American Honda Company created and sells this model, the opinion on the board states like its fact that it is a useless POS. I remember being one of the GM faithful. Now that we own a Honda, I am kicking myself for being so stupid wasting my money, time, and interests on GM products when they are, for the most part, inferior to other carmakers because the company refuses to change with the times quickly enough. I am one of those BOF truck owners, and I found the Ridgeline to be quite trucklike and useful for everything that I need it for, the everyday big item in the bed and carrying people or our dogs. The Ridgline, whether selling well or not, is an innovative vehicle. Chief
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LMMFAO!!!

God forbid... I'd LOVE to have some of that Honda Kool Aid that they've apparently been dishing out at Ridgeline test drives. Hell, I'd be a happy, if not delusional man!

The Ridgeline is a screaming FAILURE, yet the media STILL insist on selling americans on it, by lieing and via Honda slurp jobs. (Quite a commotion?--Yeah right! The only commotion I hear is the sound of my own bowels moving)

And guess what! It's working! Just look at siegen's post for an example... People will be trading in their "crude" and "antiquated" domestic trucks on a new Accord, I mean Odessey, ooops, I mean Ridgeline by the thousands. ESPECIALLY for that GREAT power/fuel economy mixture!!!

The asian bias is beginning to grow in the truck market throughout america and will continue. I mean, after all, they're perfect at everything else. WHY NOT TRUCKS!?!?!?!?!


****CAUTION: the above post is BRIMMING with sarcasm****

Fuel economy: The 16/21 mpg is right in the middle depending on what other awd/4wd pu you compare it to. Unimpressive compared to what?


A V8 Avalanche with more power, more room and MORE versatility.

Flat tire/trunk: Yes, I get a flat tire every single day, it is such a chore a burden. Same argument you make could be used for putting the spare tire in a car in the trunk.

Come keep grasping at straws.


No offense my friend but you call that grasping at straws?

Moving a few hundred pounds worth of rocks out of the bed to get the spare isn't as easy as moving 3 grocery bags out of the trunk...

It just more justification for holding the asians and the domestics to 2 different standards. SPARE TIRE UNDER PAYLOAD=BAD IDEA. It's simple.

In fact, if this is "grasping at straws" then the anti-Detroit zealots do A LOT of grasping at straws when they rank the Miata above the Solstice because it has "a softer dash" or when they rank the Camry above the Malibu because it has "smaller panel gaps" or when they rank a Covette Z06 below an exotic performance car over ".2 seconds"

If GM had made a Ridgeline type vehicle, it would be the best idea on this board. Since American Honda Company created and sells this model, the opinion on the board states like its fact that it is a useless POS.


Sorry Chief, but the "board" really doesn't hold a universal opinion. And if it did, then why not make it pro-GM since it is a GM board? After all, it's not like many places are pro-GM anymore.

I remember being one of the GM faithful. Now that we own a Honda, I am kicking myself for being so stupid wasting my money, time, and interests on GM products when they are, for the most part, inferior to other carmakers because the company refuses to change with the times quickly enough.

I am one of those BOF truck owners, and I found the Ridgeline to be quite trucklike and useful for everything that I need it for, the everyday big item in the bed and carrying people or our dogs.


GM refuses to change with the times???? Honda wouldn't even PRODUCE a truck in the height of the truck boom and the asians in general have HORRIBLE truck offerings. Think about the market boom and subsequent profits they missed out on because THEY wouldn't change with the times....

Ford sells close to 1 million F-150's per year and Honda is struggling for 50,000 Ridgelines this year... WHY in the world would Ford or the other domestics for that matter want to do anything different? Seems to me that THEY are the innovation and success in this market.
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Fuel economy:  The 16/21 mpg is right in the middle depending on what other awd/4wd pu you compare it to.  Unimpressive compared to what?


Unimpressive because a much more powerful, much more capable, V8 Silverado does about the same.

Flat tire/trunk:  Yes, I get a flat tire every single day, it is such a chore a burden.  Same argument you make could be used for putting the spare tire in a car in the trunk.


Moving a few grocery bags around to get to the spare is a lot less tedious then moving a truckbed full of dirt/rocks/mulch.

Come keep grasping at straws.


Oh look, he caught some.
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The Ridgeline is a screaming FAILURE, yet the media STILL insist on selling americans on it, by lieing and via Honda slurp jobs.



That is unsupported opinion and not fact.
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