Today most truck makers put their emphasis on high-zoot comfy interiors, towing bragging rights, and macho styling (aka my grille’s bigger than yours). The “work area,” aka the “bed,” for the most part, is often an afterthought. Yeah, there have been improvements, but they’ve come slowly; and frankly most to date have not been very innovative and/or have been poorly executed.
A thinking man’s truck
Since the very first Ridgeline was introduced, and now with the new 2017 model, Honda has done a lot of serious thinking when it comes to the bed – how it’s used, and how to make it even more user-friendly. For the most part great ideas abound, while some like the in-bed audio system seem really silly. The two-way tailgate is flat-out brilliant, even if the idea was borrowed from 1970s Detroit station wagons. Other trucks offer optional bumper steps, fold-out steps, or a tailgate step to aid bed access. Good ideas for sure, but Honda’s swing-out tailgate solution is so simple and so elegant it hurts; plus it’s standard. The Ridgeline’s ability to lay 4×8 building material flat on the floor of the bed is a no-brainer, especially for someone who likes to do home projects; yet Honda is the only mid-size truck to offer that capability. The storage trunk in the bed is another super idea – most of the time.
Is it perfect?
Nope. Some say accessing the bed trunk with a load of mulch is a problem. No argument there, so you plan ahead. Same with accessing the spare tire; it could be a BIG problem with a loaded bed. Then again, how often do you see a Harry Homeowner truck with a loaded bed? The odds are, if you’re going to get a flat tire, most likely the bed will be empty. If not, well then you must have angered the gods.
Speaking of flat tires, Honda blew it big time here by giving the Ridgeline a temporary spare tire. no truck should ever have a temp tire; full-size spare all the way, baby! No way do I want to have to use a temp tire while carrying a load or towing a trailer. Hopefully they will offer a full-service spare as an option. The funny thing is, the previous model sold in Mexico came with a full-size spare standard. From what I’ve heard, the reason the American-spec model comes with a temp tire is to save weight; and Honda will do anything to save weight, to improve EPA mileage ratings, even if it’s unwise for real-world conditions.
This raises another interesting point: I’ve read that this new gen-two Ridgeline has been designed to be exported to other markets, much more so than the last model. Like with Mexico, I can’t imagine any export models coming equipped with a temp spare tire. Bad roads (or no roads) demand a full-service spare tire.
Micro rear wheelhouses
Take a good look at that bed wheelhouse in the photo above. It’s tiny, and is by far the smallest I’ve ever seen in a pickup truck with a conventional bed. Now think about this: If Honda had engineered the Ridgeline to sat an inch and a half higher off the ground, there would be no need for any wheelhouse intrusion whatsoever! The top of the wheelhouse would be the same height as the raised ridges in the bed floor.