2016 Midsize Pickup Challenge: Acceleration and Braking

Group Milan 1 II_A-B

By Joe Bruzek, Cars.com

We chose a hot, sweaty Michigan summer day to test acceleration and braking performance in PickupTruck.com's 2016 Midsize Pickup Challenge. Temperatures at the Milan Dragway maxed out at 89 degrees while the humidity pegged the needle at 100 percent. Though we didn't expect to scorch the earth with fast times, the track surface was hot and sticky enough without any extra track preparation so wheelspin was a non-issue, even with trucks in two-wheel drive — except for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, which has a permanent all-wheel-drive system.

Ridgeline Track 3 II

Loaded/Unloaded Acceleration

One truck that didn't sweat a drop was the 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 Ridgeline, which didn't have to try hard to blow the doors off the competition in all-out acceleration, with or without payload. Its 7.39-second sprint to 60 mph and quarter-mile time of 15.5 seconds at 90.4 mph (unloaded) was close to a half-second faster than the next-fastest truck, the 2016 GMC Canyon. The difference was big enough to be felt in the seat of your pants. The runs recorded with our Racelogic Vbox II showed the Ridgeline and Canyon left the line in a dead heat until about 15 mph where the gap grew; above 60 mph, the Ridgeline really pulled away from the Canyon. It's great fun when the Honda's engine passes 5,350 rpm and changes to its aggressive camshaft profile (known as i-VTEC) that lets out a more defined and audible growl up to the engine's 6,800-rpm redline. The Honda was fitted with the most aggressive axle gearing of the competition, a 4.25:1 ring-and-pinion ratio, and the six-speed automatic transmission shifted lightning-quick.

What's somewhat surprising about the results is that even though the Ridgeline is based off carlike architecture, it isn't the lightest in this group. Its V-6 has to lug 4,500 pounds, which is 60 pounds heavier than the lightest truck, the Canyon, at 4,440 pounds. The trucks spanned a large difference in sizes and capabilities, though putting them on a certified truck scale showed there was only a 140-pound difference from lightest to heaviest.



No matter how strong the Ridgeline's numbers look, the Canyon and the identically powered 2016 Chevrolet Colorado have a 305-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 with more linear power delivery that feels comfortable managing payload on the street thanks to a transmission Tow/Haul mode that is lacking in the Ridgeline. The Ridgeline also lost points in highway composure carrying its 1,360-pound payload (second highest of the bunch to the Canyon's 1,400) with a tail-squatting, nose-high attitude that made for a skittish highway ride. The other trucks were much more composed near maximum payload.

Colorado track 1 II

The Colorado's numbers were strangely weak compared with the almost identical Canyon, with which it shares its engine, transmission and axle ratio configuration, and it's only 100 pounds heavier with its extended wheelbase. We experienced what could only be described as the Colorado losing power after successive acceleration runs. Most trucks either got faster on each run or were consistent within a few hundredths of a second, but the Colorado lost a half-second between its first and fourth run. We let it cool down thinking the heat was getting to the truck after the pedal stopped commanding full power, but we couldn't improve on the fastest time. When loaded, the Colorado slowed even more and lost up to seven-tenths of a second from the first, fastest zero-to-60-mph run (10.9 seconds) to the slowest final run (11.6 seconds).



Despite the 2016 Nissan Frontier's engine being unapologetically loud, it was decently quick with acceleration not far behind the best. The accelerator responsiveness and refined transmission programming are well-matched and performed consistently, and it actually felt faster than the numbers suggest thanks to the cabin's excessive wind and road noise; whether that's a pro or a con is up to you. Slowest of the bunch unloaded was the recently redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma, which has a new engine and transmission that may need a little more time in the research and development oven. The accelerator pedal is mushy and unresponsive, and the engine doesn't have much pulling power at lower speeds, even with a 3.91:1 axle ratio and the transmission gear selector in Sport mode. When loaded, only the struggling Chevrolet was slower than the Tacoma.

Frontier Track 3 II

Loaded/Unloaded Braking

Our braking tests from 60 mph demonstrated how well a truck performs in a panic stop. We got the trucks up to 60 mph, leveled off speed in the highest numeric gear and applied full braking force as quickly as possible. Each truck did three or four runs along the same strip of asphalt as the other trucks; braking is the first testing we do to ensure the brakes are cool. Also important to braking performance are the truck's tires, and our spread included a wide range of street and off-road tires from the Ridgeline's highway-friendly Firestone Destination LE2 245/60R18s to the Frontier's off-road Hankook Dynapro ATM 265/75R16s.



While we shouldn't be surprised after years of testing the Frontier, its brakes proved up to the task of short stopping distances just like in our 2015 Midsize Challenge even with aggressive, large 31.7-inch diameter off-road tires. This time, it stopped in the shortest distance of 140.1 feet from 60 mph, narrowly beating the Colorado's 140.3 feet. Loaded, the Nissan's braking distance was also the shortest and increased a miniscule 2.5 feet to the Colorado's increase of 11.7 feet with payload. We should note the Colorado was carrying nearly 500 pounds more than the Frontier, since payload capacities differed significantly (we loaded each truck with 90 percent of its calculated payload). The Frontier exhibited a fair amount of nose-dive during braking and, while it was ugly, the truck got the job done. The Colorado and Canyon had the most predictable, linear brake-pedal feel, even if the numbers weren't best in class.

Canyon Hark Brake 1 II

Brake-pedal feel is important to braking performance; a confident brake pedal reassures that you're in control. The Ridgeline, while managing midpack distance performance, was at the back of the pack in terms of subjective brake-pedal confidence. Its pedal travels uncomfortably far to the floor before full braking force is applied, and the pedal is soft and uncommunicative. On the upside, the truck is very settled when stopping, which you'd expect from its carlike construction. The Tacoma was on the other end of that spectrum with a very high brake pedal and almost all of its force delivered in the top third of pedal travel. Beyond that, it was the sketchiest to haul down from speed; it was the only one where I needed to apply steering correction when the back end stepped out during a loaded run. The Tacoma was a bit old school in terms of brakes. It was the only truck with rear drum brakes, which seems an odd technology to retain in a redesigned 2016 model.

Tacoma Track 1 II

How We Conducted the Testing

All testing was performed at Milan Dragway in Milan, Mich., on the same day and the same track surface.

Testing included finding which truck accelerated the quickest to 60 mph and in quarter-mile elapsed times with the cargo box empty and loaded to 90 percent payload capacity. Braking tests to measure 60 mph-to-zero distances were also performed with and without payload. The 90 percent payload capacity took the form of a bed full of 40-pound rock-salt bags measured to 1,400 pounds in the GMC Canyon, 1,360 pounds in the Honda Ridgeline, 1,320 pounds in the Chevrolet Colorado, 1,000 pounds in the Toyota Tacoma and 880 pounds in the Nissan Frontier.

We actually ended up exceeding maximum payload capacity by a few pounds in each truck considering the 170-pound test driver, though we might have been closer to exact payload at the end of the day as the driver sweated out water weight in the hot weather — I was the driver and it got pretty nasty.

Ridgeline Track 2 II

We used a Racelogic Vbox II GPS data logger to record our tests. Quarter-mile acceleration numbers mirrored how a dragstrip calculates quarter-mile times, including the 1-foot rollout method accounting for the distance a front wheel moves in the timing beam before rolling out of the beam and triggering the timing system, which is typically a few tenths faster than not including rollout. Zero-to-60-mph times were raw times from a standstill and do not include a 1-foot rollout.

Coloardo Track 2 II

Cars.com photos by Angela Conners




Overview | Acceleration and Braking | Off-Road Performance | Mileage | What the Judges Said | Results


Impressive that the Honda is that much quicker, even though its a little down on power (vs the GM trucks), while they all have 6 gears and weigh about the same.
Can't be certain if the Toyotas breaking performance is from having AT tires or the only rear drum brakes in the bunch, probably some of both. The Nissan stops just fine though with it's AT tires.

The acceleration difference between the Canyon and the Colorado is obvious, due to the oversized tires and therefore just that much more torque needed to get the the truck rolling.

I'm impressed at how close the trucks were across the board in these tests, though wonder if Honda shouldn't bleed the brake lines and try again. The description of its braking habits despite being mid-pack in actual stopping would make a driver question its efficacy.

@Road Whale
The GMC and Chevy wore identically sized 255/65R-17 rubber, so I don't think tires were the main culprit behind the Chevy's slower acceleration. Perhaps the engine in the Chevy was a bit greener and not quite broken in.

Readers should try and remember that gas mileage figures and the stats for HP and torque are actually just ratings.

Ratings are fine for general comparisons but you need to put it on a certified testing device to really gauge the actual torque and horsepower.

Or you can go to Home Depot and get some bags of rock salt.

Good job GM, you did well with 3:42s vs the better acceleration gearing Honda had of 4.25s


Good job GM, you did well with 3:42s vs the better acceleration gearing Honda had of 4.25s


Posted by: johnny doe | Aug 24, 2016 12:22:39 PM

So what is the transmission. Gearing in both trucks. Final drive is only part of it. Good job Honda for getting better fuel economy with lower final drive gear over the gm girls.

So what is the transmission. Gearing in both trucks. Final drive is only part of it. Good job Honda for getting better fuel economy with lower final drive gear over the gm girls.

Posted by: LMAO | Aug 24, 2016 12:56:43 PM

Honda gets better fuel economy because they made a "truck" that doesn't have a traditional drivetrain. It doesn't have a transfer case which gives it a fuel economy boost. Notice how it doesn't have a low range like any of the other trucks.

Prove the Ridgeline is a car with a car engine

Yes the Honda got better MPGs, but has Douglas pointed out no transfer case to turn the power through, smaller engine, less HP, less TQ, and over all sits lower to the ground then the GM twins.




All these numbers are bogus cause they loaded the trucks with different weight, they should have put the same amount of weight in each truck bed.... kind of like testing apples to watermelons, it's hot out, I want a watermelon.....

Here is the Transmission gear ratios.



@Dave I agree wished they use the same weight in all the trucks or do both. One test same weight and another at 90% max.

What I'm saying is Honda has an over all gear advantage and AWD system to stop wheel spin when drag racing. Either way all 3 trucks are still better then Ford. Oh wait your favorite maker don't have one, to scared to join the competition.

First: 4.060
Second: 2.370
Third: 1.550
Fourth: 1.160
Fifth: 0.850
Sixth: 0.670
Reverse: 3.200

Read more: http://gmauthority.com/blog/gm/gm-transmissions/myb/#ixzz4IIKNCdM0

2017 Ridgeline 6 AT








Final Reduction Ratio


You can do the math on the effective gear ratios but it looks pretty close to me for effective ratios, not doing the math.

However the Honda has better gearing and was carrying less weight. Like I said all three of them are still better then a Ford HAHA!

However the Honda has better gearing and was carrying less weight. Like I said all three of them are still better then a Ford HAHA!

Posted by: johnny doe | Aug 24, 2016 7:08:08 PM

Learn to read school drop out. Honda, within 40 and 60 lbs of the GM girls. Honda better braking, fuel economy and performance. To recap, better buy.

no transfer case to turn the power through, smaller engine, less HP,

Posted by: johnny doe | Aug 24, 2016 5:26:12 PM

Here you go fool. YOU said the Honda has to transfer case. It is AWD, it does whether you call it a transfer case or PTU. You are wrong again.

System Layout
The Ridgeline AWD system is a fulltime system that requires no driver interaction or monitoring, thanks to a torque-transfer unit that is bolted directly to the front-mounted transaxle. The torque-transfer unit receives torque from a helical gear that is attached to the front differential's ring gear, and a short horizontal shaft and hypoid gear set within the torque-transfer unit's case send power to the rear propeller shaft, which in turn transfers power to the rear drive unit that has a 20-percent greater torque capacity.

Learn to read dumb dumb. Notice it says the PTU is bolted to the transmission and attached to the front diff.

Do you even read moron doe, you just proved me right again. The PTU connected to the transmission drives the drive shafts. The drive shafts spins the first section of the rear different. The rearadiator different will then balance power. You know nothing when it comes to powertrains. Stop arguing with me because you are wrong. Just like your dad GMSRGREAT.

GM needs to upgrade stat: 8 speed automatic for rear drive, 10 speed automatic for 4x4 and the LGX V6
Toyota needs an 8 speed automatic, now.
Nissan needs: updated direct injected 3.5 V6 & 7 speed automatic.

Honda will get their in house made 10 speed automatic for '18 M.Y.

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