Jumping back into the mid-sized pickup market, Honda today unveiled its new Ridgeline. The addition of the Ridgeline pickup, whose styling is far more trucklike than its rather quirky predecessor, gives Honda another competitive model in a rather hot market. Since the price of oil and gasoline have fallen to 10-year lows and show no sign of increasing now, light trucks and crossovers have been particularly hot-sellers.
For example, General Motors, whose Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsized pickups earned truck of the year honors last year, had an exceptionally good year last year, easily surpassing its sales goals. In 2015, GM’s intermediate pickup models sold 114,500 models. One might think that the Ridgeline and the GM models would compete, but, they are different markets.
Tom Libby, manager of industry analysis at IHS, told Automotive News today “I see this as being a separate animal from GM’s trucks.” Libby said. Instead, the Ridgeline will pull from a different type of buyer, someone “looking at Toyota’s Tacoma or Nissan’s Frontier. It’s a somewhat different cluster of audience than the domestics.” That said, however, the analyst also believes that Honda can attract buyers who just happen to walk into a showroom and walk out with a Ridgeline. Those buyers will be swayed by its packaging and its amenities.
Ridgeline also widens Honda’s product portfolio. Compared to their competitors, Honda’s product line is limited. “This is expanding the product portfolio,” Libby told Automotive News. “They need to do that if they’re going to be a long-term competitor to the Nissans and Fords and Toyotas.”
The original Ridgeline, which scored Motor Trend Truck of the Year honors when it debuted in 2005, was noted for its somewhat unique styling, as well as its innovations such as added truck-bed storage as well as a two-way liftgate. Early sales were strong, over 50,000 in the first year, however, they tailed off until they were selling in the 15,000-per-year range when the Ridgeline was discontinued in 2015.
The new Ridgeline shares its platform with the Pilot crossover, Acura MDX crossover and the Odyssey minivan. If you look closely at the Ridgeline, you can see that it shares many pieces with the Pilot, including the front end styling. The Ridgeline, whose pricing was not detailed, carries five. Its body is a four-door, allowing easy access to the front and rear seats. The engine is set to the corporate 3.5-liter V-6, used in other models. That powerplant delivers 280 horsepower and 282 pounds-feet of torque. Its standard configuration is front-drive though torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive is an available option. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
In other Honda news from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the all-new Civic, which has been entirely changed for 2016, was named winner of the prestigious North American Car of the Year. The Civic was chosen by a panel of auto writers from across the country.