Spied: 2016 Honda Ridgeline

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It's been several months since we've seen sketches from Honda about what the new 2016 Ridgeline will look like, but the midsize pickup truck looks to be in the final stages of tow testing. Our spies have been hot on the trail of the elusive, more conventional-looking next-generation Ridgeline, and they were able to catch the fully camouflaged Honda next to one of its main competitors, the Chevrolet Colorado. Here's their report:

"We've just gotten our first close-up look at Honda's next Ridgeline pickup, caught testing on rural public roads.

"Until today, all of our encounters with Ridgeline prototypes have been through a very long lens, giving us only a marginal look at the test trucks. Now we've gotten a proper set of spy shots giving us a good feel for the grille, headlights and overall front-end design. The profile and rear views are consistent with earlier teaser shots promising a more traditional truck shape compared to the off-beat look of the original Ridgeline.

"Today's run-in with this prototype also included a new Ford F-150 and a silver Chevrolet Colorado pickup pulling a boat.

"In one of our earlier long-range Ridgeline shots, the 2016 prototype was running nose-to-tail with the first-generation model, allowing an excellent opportunity to gauge the general size of the long-awaited second-generation model. From what we can tell, the footprint of the new Ridgeline will be very similar to the original model. The evidence generated by these first shots seems to suggest that the new Ridgeline will continue to use some of the unibody platform of the 2016 Honda Pilot, instead of a smaller, CR-V-based pickup.

"Our sources tell us to expect powertrains using Honda's Earth Dreams efficiency technologies. There was some speculation that a continuously variable transmission could be in play, but given the apparent Pilot-based architecture and tow testing of the new truck, that seems unlikely. We are told to look out for the possible inclusion of Honda's new Super Handling-All Wheel Drive hybrid system developed for larger vehicles, which would give the smaller pickup significant traction and driving dynamics. That could be added to give some technological uniqueness in a crowded and competitive landscape."

KGP Photography images

 

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Comments

@papa jim--Since I am not privy to the inside operations of Honda I can only speculate as to why Honda relaunched the Ridgeline. The Pilot has been less than successful in recent years up until they announced a new Pilot and gave discounts and low leases to move the older model out. As for Acura they are like Lincoln both dead brands walking and if it were not for the MDX they might not be around and the MDX might not be enough to ensure Acura's future. Honda's biggest sellers and most profitable vehicles are the CRV, Accord, and Civic. Honda for years has diversified into other models but many have failed and it comes back to CRV, Accord, and Civic.

As for taking risk and failing need I say more than Ford Flex, Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln Blackwood, Edsel, and a few others from GM and Chrysler. Most of these previously mentioned vehicles are not necessarily bad but they did not get the sales volume that had been predicted. Honda has just announced that they are discontinuing the Hybrid versions of the Civic and Accord Plug-in and Civic CNG. Toyota has announced that after this year no more Venzas and most likely Honda will announce no more Crosstours.

With the recent success of the Colorado/Canyon twins Honda might be willing to take a risk with a new more truck like Ridgeline. The GM twins have gotten Toyota to refresh the Tacoma a little sooner than they might have and in the next few years there will be either an all new Nissan Frontier or at least a refreshed one. I am glad to see GM with a fresh new midsize truck that will hopefully revitalize a market that has had stale offerings. I understand why Honda wants to try again with a new Ridgeline but there are no guarantees of success and as Lou_BC stated the Ridgeline is not intended to compete against the full size half ton American pickup.

Jeff you talk in circles.

@papa jim--I am not trying to talk in circles, just the facts. Your guess is as good as anyone's as to why Honda is releasing a new Ridgeline. I was just giving you a history of failed and lackluster products as an example that all manufacturers at some point have made mistakes. Corporate planners and decision makers are far from being as bright and perfect as you might think. Remember the New Coke? Need I say anymore.

Jeff S Your last statement is the first of the bunch that acknowledges my concern about Honda not thinking this through from a business perspective.

New Coke, great analogy, could not have said it better myself.

If you're in business, just because you are able to do something new or exciting, doesn't necessarily mean you'll make any money doing it (Chevy Volt?)

@Papa jim - I don't know about the USA but most of the Ridgeline's I see in Canada are higher end models with prices on par with full sized 1/2 tons. I see the same with Tacoma. Most are crew TRD or SR5 packages and since Toyota added leather I see that as a common option.

I was looking at a Colorado loaded with leather. The salesman pointed out that the one I was looking at was the first one other than a few plane jane one's that sat on their lot for more than 2 weeks.

Small trucks are selling right now and many are optioned so the whole cheapskate buyer theory seems to no longer hold water for a reason to buy something smaller than a 1/2 ton.

I go with what ever meets my needs and with growing kids both around 5'8" heading for the north side of 6 feet, small trucks don't cut it. I would consider a 4x2 extended cab for their first vehicle. Both don't want full sized anything and both are concerned about mpg.

@Lou would you buy a $35-40K truck for your son's first ride?

@papa jim--The Ridgeline might surprise us and do better than expected but I have my reservations about Honda's success. I will have to see the actual truck and see the price range. My suspicions are that it will be pricey. Honda has a great reputation but Honda is known for being on the high side of the price range and not prone to discounting. Even Honda's lawnmowers, outdoor equipment, and motorcycles are higher than the competition unless you count BMW, Ducatti, and Harley in the motorcycle segment. I bought a returned Honda lawnmower for less half its original price at Home Depot and it is excellent but at about $800 retail it is more than I would be willing to spend. At $350 with a hydro-static drive and xenoy deck it was a good buy but it was missing the grass bag (I mulch my clippings anyway).

I'm not as confident about the future of the mid size segment as some of my fellow commenters.

I'm reminded of trucks like the last-gen Dodge Dakota that were big on the outside, small on the inside and (even with the 4.7 V8) was a pokey gas guzzler.

The last Canyon/Colorado was another loser, heavy and short on performance. Customer sat figures for the above referenced models established a new low.

The Sport Trac was not successful. The Ridgeline was not successful. The Frontier and Tacoma have done well enough but they only prevailed because management at those companies kept a lid on costs.

There hasn't been a big sales winner in the mid size space in a very long time.

It remains to be seen how much the market for midsize trucks grows. If the Colorado/Canyon continues to grow then other manufacturers might decide to release a midsize truck. I don't think every manufacturer will enter the market with a midsize truck but if the market grows there could be a few other entries. We could eventually see a few compact trucks based on a front wheel drive cuv platform. Possibly we might see the Hyundai Santa Cruz and if it did succeed then others might enter that market. I do think any new entries must be priced lower and then you might see more interest. The Sport Trac had too small a bed to be useful for many who don't want a full size truck but want a decent size bed to haul in and the Sport Trac was not inexpensive. I do see a demand for a smaller truck if it is priced lower, gets decent mpgs, and has a reasonable size bed to haul with. The Colorado/Canyon although not cheap does at least have a lower trim level that is affordable and comes the closest to being a reasonable alternative to a full size pickup.

You seem to be saying: If you build it, they will come.

The success of GM with midsize during the last year will be hard to replicate--they have carefully matched production levels to demand (so far).

To continue that tightrope walk is a major challenge to their future success, but it limits sales numbers and requires dealers to only stock the uplevel trims, which is exactly what all of the leaders are doing in the North American mid size market. Just try to find a Nissan or Toyota dealer with base Frontiers or Tacomas to sell. They have loads of the up level trims but not the fleet models, except at the urban dealerships with huge fleet departments.

We keep quibbling over the Sport Trac!

It was ahead of its time. The size of the bed is not important--have you seen the size of the bed in a Frontier crew cab?

Sport Trac was a total lifestyle truck and a very good one, as long as you bought it with the V8 six speed option.

Ford was selling it right alongside Rangers, at a fifteen thousand dollar uptick, which killed the model. It was way too expensive, but no more expensive than the Colorados that I'm seeing on lots today.

To repeat: GM will need to be very careful about overloading dealer lots with their midsize twins. They've been getting near MSRP for these trucks but that will not last.

Yes and the Frontier crew cab still has a bigger bed. Sport Trac was not a bad vehicle but it had a small bed. Ford should have made the Ranger into a crew cab. Most pickups are life style regardless of size. Most people buying a pickup are not going to use them to their full capacity and many never even use the bed. The Colorado/Canyon is the best of the midsize trucks in that it is more up to date and has a good power train. Not everyone wants or needs large.

Ford should have made the Ranger into a crew cab.

Sorry Jeff,

GM built an S10 crew cab during the last few years of that model's run and it was a dog on the road and a dog in the showroom and a dog in the service dept. Ford was smart to put a balcony on the old-gen Explorer and call it a truck, it was just badly timed and suffered all of the stuff we've discussed before.

The bed was not the issue--nobody was buying a Sport Trac to haul sheet rock or run a paving business. It was a suburban boy's lifestyle truck. If US economy (and home-building) hadn't crapped out in 2006/2007 it might have done better.

Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier have done well with crew cabs. The Ranger was a decent truck and with a little updating and a crew cab it might have done weil. The crew cab did not make the S-10 a dog, GM make a dog out of a crew cab S-10. The current Colorado/Canyon is much improved over the S-10 and the last generations of Colorado/Canyon is not a dog as a crew cab. I don't really have anything against the Sport Trac except its minuscule bed which is almost useless. I could say the same thing about a Subaru Brat which was not a bad truck but it could have used a slightly larger bed.

@papa jim--I thought you drove a full size half ton Chevy. Do you drive a Sports Trac? Or maybe you are driving an aluminum F-150. I didn't realize you were such a Ford fan.

@papa jim--I bet you have an EcoBoost in your aluminum F-150.

And it looks nothing like the sketches. Wish they'd just reveal it now.

I'm ready for a test drive.

Uh, why do both trucks have the same wheels? Maybe both chevys?

Have driven a ridgeline ever since it first came out love the reliability of it and especially trunk under the bed. Only truck i could store golf clubs in trunck while being able to load hey in the bed ) sure hope the new one keeps the trunk

I have an '06 and I love it! I call it my T-Ar because it is not really a truck nor is it really a car. I think Honda got it right in 2006 as it hauls everything I have ever wanted. I thought the trunk was a gimmic, but now I could not live without such a trunk and bed on top. Kudos to Honda for bring it back. I can't wait to see it in the show room. I honestly never took it serious until I drove one and looked closer. Don't be so dismissive and wait to see what they actually produce. I'm excited that I can potentially replace my 2006!

I can't wait for the new generation Ridgeline. My 2006 will roll over 500,000 km. this week. By the time the 2016 version comes to market it will be ready for retirement. I hope the new engine, drivetrain and exhaust systems are as reliable. The 2006 is all original.

Would love to see the upgrades on this new model. Especially the safety upgrades. I have owned 2 different models of ridgeline & loved them both; heck, I'm still driving one. It fills a nitch in the auto market that a lot of people seem to like. Dealer lots around here always sell out of them. It's the suburban man's (woman's) vehicle. Driving experience is great, parking is a breeze, convenient storage, & ride height. Plus its a functional truck.
I'm a single dad with a disabled daughter, would love to live out in the country & homestead, but need to be near the local children's hospital. Cars sit too low for her to get in/out, but this vehicle is just right and better than most SUV's, also dad gets to have his pickup truck. Bonus!
No, the original Ridgeline wasn't a true pickup truck, that's okay, that position has been filled, this truck is for the other people who want the convenience of a car/suv but the part time utility of a truck.
Keep up the good work Honda.

10 year RL owner. I tow about 2500lbs worth of trailer and motorcycle about 4000 miles per year. Yes I have had things break--twice if I remember. Yes, Honda could improve the dash layout. But having run Ford, GMC, Jeep and Ram trucks I can say I've spent more money keeping each one of those on the road than I have with my Ridgeline. Every time I see those other trucks with their boxes wiggling to a different drummer than the cab, I laugh!

My '06 has 160,000 miles on it. First and only vehicle I have owned for more than 100k. The fourth kid starts drivers ed this Fall and I just want to get through this with the truck. Nothing but regular services is all this thing has ever needed. It's an ugly duck for sure, but nothing seems to kill it. Thought hard about the new GM/GMC small truck but will wait until the new Honda is out before I decide.

I have been watching the details of all these posts, and all other info about the 2nd generation Ridgeline for some time. I like what is trying to squeeze out from under those camo tarps. The size is just about right on the mark. I know a lot of folks that might buy a 4 door truck but don't want to park a full size BOF in their garage. Yes, we do want truck capabilities when called for, but also like to travel in style. Don't forget that the RV industry has been busy churning out lots of new and very roomy smaller sized travel trailers lately that would be perfect for the new Ridgeline to tow. I think it just be a very good seller, and open up a whole new place in PICKUPTRUCKLAND! Good luck to Honda.

I have a Dodge Ram w/ a Hemi but all I carry is a fridge or some drywall or 2x4's. My dream vehicle would be a new Ford Ranchero or GM El Cameno or a Dodge magnum w/ a box. I think the new Ridgeline might b the closest thing to what I want (Which is a two door sports car with a box and all wheel drive that fits in my garage).

Awesome; it's gonna be grrreat! It's about time we had a pick up truck from this century!



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