O.K., we’ll admit that we like the idea of a Honda hybrid pickup truck. And in fact, have been implemental in planting that seed in the automotive press. After-all, when looking to Ridgeline’s current MPG rating, there’s much room for improvement.
When Honda rolled the last Ridgeline off the production line in 2014, the lighter than ½ ton rated unit-body car-truck held one of if not the lowest fuel efficiency ratings in the segment.
While Ridgeline’s on and off-road performance and ride was superior to many mid-size trucks, In the last two years of production Honda dealers couldn't give Ridgeline away without factory and dealership incentives. Selling fewer than 1200 Ridgeline trucks per month in 2013, Honda opted to pull Ridgeline off market for 2 years, along with the promise of a major engineering and design overhaul.
A better question yet is what must the next generation Ridgeline bring to the table to compete with the Detroit Big 3, Nissan and Toyota?
Honda’s not looking to catch up with Dodge Ram, F150 or Toyota Tacoma, they don’t have to. While Honda Ridgeline fans speculate as to the look, specifications and arrival date of Honda’s only North American built pickup-like truck, the 1-2-3 punch of Accord, Civic and CR-V carry the Honda Car Division with Acura MDX, RDX and TLX picking up the rear. Besides, Ridgeline runs in a class of its own. It’s not a conventional ½ ton pickup truck.
So why a 2016 Ridgeline Pickup?
For those of us that have a Ridgeline in the family(see the heading photo)don’t question Honda’s logic in taking the next step in Ridgeline development. We love our Honda truck. But in speaking with fellow Ridgeline owners, we discover a common request or two; better fuel economy and greater towing capacity; that’s it! Ridgeline has a very loyal following in North America.
We find a handful of line items in John Mandel’s "The year of Honda” speech. While the Detroit Auto Show crowed found little “news” in Honda’s display and presentation; we did. Here you go…
The most logical steps in finding greater fuel economy and towing capacity in Ridgeline are, upper and under-body aerodynamics, turbocharged VTEC engine technology, regenerative braking capabilities, a CVT or dual clutched automated 7 or 8 speed transmission, and a 2 or 3 motor torque vectoring hybrid system. Granted, that’s a long and expensive list.However, to take Ridgeline to the fuel economy precipice now dominated by Dodge Ram Eco-diesel(29 mpg) Honda has a formidable task at hand. Can it be done? sure, how much are consumers willing to pay to drive Honda’s Made in the U.S.A. pickup?
Final note: Ridgeline has a near cult status in the U.S.. We believe that Honda knows that and is rolling the dice on increasing its light truck market presence through a new and much improved state of the art, benchmark setting hybrid ½ ton crew cab pickup. By integrating Accord or RLX Sport Hybrid characteristics in an extended cab, car like interior offering the utility of a pickup truck, Honda takes the next logical step in North American market prominence if not dominance.