“The (current) Ridgeline was the right thing to do at the time,” said Dave Marek, chief designer and senior manager of the automotive styling group at Honda Research and Development. “But now that the truck market is a moving target, our opportunity is to make it more fuel-efficient -- aerodynamic and lighter -- but still retain the core value it has, which is the inside space and usage in the back.”
2009 Honda RidgelineEnlarge Photo
The 2009 Honda Ridgeline, which we drove recently and appreciated for its nimble manners and smart packaging, is actually down one mpg in highway ratings next to Chevrolet's full-frame, 650-lb. heavier Silverado XFE, which scores 15/21 by the EPA's yardstick. The next Ridgeline must incorporate improved mileage in order to make sense for truck buyers and remain competitive in the market.
Despite the proposed changes, Honda claims the next generation Ridgeline will retain the current vehicle's crew-cab truck virtues: 5,000-pound towing capacity, 5-foot-long cargo box and seating for five.
Marek made no mention of an altered powertrain, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a large four-cylinder base engine or a gasoline/electric IMA powertrain (they already did one in the last-gen Accord V-6 hybrid). We'd love to see a high-efficiency diesel engine; Honda does enjoy successful diesel sales in its European market Civic. Easy low-end torque just makes sense in a truck, and the current Ridgeline's high rpm, high horsepower Acura V-6 engine isn't perhaps the best fit for truck buyers.