Despite being one of the top-rated trucks in the market, the Honda Ridgeline isn’t a popular choice among truck owners. The Ridgeline is the only midsize truck in the market with a unibody construction, offering a smooth SUV-like ride. The bed has a storage compartment underneath with a drain plug, which is perfect for wet clothes or ice and drinks. The gate swings open or folds down, offering a bit of versatility. With many unique and useful features, it’s a bit of a mystery why this truck isn’t more popular.
The truck market is down, but the Honda Ridgeline falls behind many others
According to Good Car Bad Car, the sales figures for the first quarter show the Ridgeline down 26.90% compared to the same quarter last year. This isn’t the most concerning part of the sales report. The biggest concern is the fact this Honda truck falls behind everything except the Santa Cruz, Titan, and Canyon in overall sales for the first quarter.
A high-rated truck with low sales, what gives?
Among compact pickup trucks, Consumer Reports has the Ridgeline at the top of the list. They tell us this truck offers:
- Quiet well-finished cabin
- Comfortable ride
- Innovative features (dual-action tailgate, in-bed trunk)
- Good payload capacity
- Good fuel economy
- Long-lasting composite bed
With so many positives, we’ve got to figure out what truck owners don’t like about this midsize pickup.
1. Is the tow rating of the Honda Ridgeline too low?
The Ridgeline competes in the midsize truck market, and offers a 5,000-pound tow rating. This could be too low for most truck owners. When you consider what a tow rating means, you only have enough power to tow a small camping trailer or a lightweight bass boat. Other midsize trucks offer much better tow ratings, including:
- Toyota Tacoma – 6,800 pounds
- Ford Ranger – 7,500 pounds
- Jeep Gladiator – 7,650 pounds
- GMC Canyon/Chevy Colorado – 7,700 pounds
2. Does the Honda midsize truck offer too little off-road capability?
The Honda Ridgeline gives consumers AWD as part of the standard package. According to Car Buying Strategies, this system adds traction enhancement with four driving modes, which are: Normal, Mud, Snow, and Sand. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give the Ridgeline the capability to handle hardcore terrain.
Other midsize trucks offer hardcore trail-riding trims and features. The Jeep Gladiator is made for the wilderness, the Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a hardcore off-road beast, and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is ready to handle any tough trail offered. These three models have 4WD systems and added extras such as body lifts, locking differentials, underbody protection, and all-terrain tires to make the wilderness more accessible and fun.
3. Is the starting price too high for the Honda Ridgeline?
When comparing starting prices, the expectation is that you’re driving a basic truck. The Ridgeline begins at $36,900, which is more than some half-ton full-size trucks. This price is much higher than the Nissan Frontier and the Chevy Colorado. To the Ridgeline’s benefit, the interior of the Honda truck is much more upscale when compared to the Nissan and Chevy models.
4. Shouldn’t the fuel economy be better for a unibody truck?
Kelley Blue Book tells us the Honda Ridgeline achieves 18 city/24 hwy mpg. This comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Although you’ll have 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, you might expect much better fuel mileage in a unibody truck. The fuel mileage of some other pickups is:
- Jeep Gladiator 22 city/28 hwy mpg
- Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon 20 city/30 hwy mpg
- Toyota Tacoma 20 city/23 hwy mpg
- Nissan Frontier 18 city/24 hwy mpg
As you can see, almost all of the other midsize trucks beat the Ridgeline despite having body-on-frame configurations.
Why aren’t truck buyers impressed with the Honda Ridgeline?
Could the answer to this question be as simple as the fact that the Honda pickup doesn’t have what they need? The Ridgeline may have a few fancy features, an upscale cabin, and a unibody build, but it falls short where it counts. Other trucks tow more, cost less, have better fuel economy numbers, and offer more off-road capabilities. The reasons for the sales issues for the Honda Ridgeline may be much more obvious than expected.