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Can't print information that isn't released yet, I guess. C&D is usually pretty good at knowing these things. Not an inside expert by any means, but I highly doubt we're going to see much in the way of changes for 20. Likely just the axing of the RT and RTL-T leaving only the Sport, RTL, RTL-E and BE. This is a shame because the RTL-T would be the model I'd target if I were in the market.
The 9 speed transmission in all 2020 Ridgelines is pretty much confirmed. That's a pretty big change in itself . . .
 

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The wait is over for me, I test drove a Ridgeline (for the 3rd time!) and a Passport. Decided to go for a Passport EX-L Lunar silver with optional towing package. Still like the Ridgeline, but the Passport is a better fit for most of my needs. No objections so far to the 9 speed, ACC, LKAS, and engine stop. 24mpg indicated and CarPlay works very well for navigation.
An SUV with a utility trailer can certainly be a great alternative to a pickup!
I’m seriously considering going this same route. As useful as the Ridgeline would be for me 20% of the time, the Passport would actually be the better vehicle for my everyday needs. Would just need to rent a trailer from time to time, or buy one and make a spot at mine or my father's house to store it. If the 2020 RL has some significant upgrades, and I haven’t pulled the trigger on a PP yet, I may still be interested in the RL.
 

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The wait is over for me, I test drove a Ridgeline (for the 3rd time!) and a Passport. Decided to go for a Passport EX-L Lunar silver with optional towing package. Still like the Ridgeline, but the Passport is a better fit for most of my needs. No objections so far to the 9 speed, ACC, LKAS, and engine stop. 24mpg indicated and CarPlay works very well for navigation.
Care to share what you paid for the EX-L?
 

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Can we expect more towing capacity with the 9 speeds and/or an increase in fuel efficiency?
Probably not.

The Pilot has the same tow ratings with both the 6-speed and 9-speed automatics.
The Pilot achieves the same highway fuel economy rating with both the 6-speed and 9-speed. The city rating is 1 MPG higher with the 9-speed, but that could be partially due to the idle stop feature.
 

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Can we expect more towing capacity with the 9 speeds and/or an increase in fuel efficiency?
I believe the 9ZF has a higher torque capability than Honda's 6AT, and the lower initial gearing should get a heavy load moving quicker and easier, but we don't know what the limiting factor is in Honda's tow rating. I honestly doubt we'll see a higher tow rating due to the transmission, since that hasn't happened with the Pilot or Passport. I do think it may make towing easier, though.

The ZF9 did have some MPG improvements, but those were largely eliminated as mfrs worked to tweak the trans to make it easier to live with (there were lots of complaints of the shift quality early on). So, the trans shifts much nicer now, but loses much of its efficiency gains. That being said, if you do a lot of short trips, stop'n'go driving, i think there will be a slight gain there, as the engine may not have to work as hard to accelerate the truck.

Just my opinion, of course. I'd much rather they stay with the 6AT and give it paddle shifters.

Tl;dr - what @zroger73 said above..
 

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I was always under the impression that the Ridgeline's limited tow rating had more to do with the unibody construction than the transmission. I'm way more interested in a volume knob than increasing the tow capacity.
 

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I was always under the impression that the Ridgeline's limited tow rating had more to do with the unibody construction than the transmission. I'm way more interested in a volume knob than increasing the tow capacity.
The unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee is rated to tow 7200lbs. Unibody is not the issue. It would be more likely that the transverse engine/trans layout could be a limiting factor.

It's possible that the Ridgeline could very well tow 7000lbs. All we know for sure is that Honda rated it at 5000lbs, we just don't know why. There are also more issues at hand when you go above towing 5000lbs, particularly with equipment (WDH), differing regulations from state to state, hitch requirements, liabilities, etc. Honda apparently also has some logic dialed in on their powertrain (in lieu of a "tow" mode) to help deal with trailering, reduce fishtailing, trailer sway, etc., and its possible that that logic is only effective up to around 5000lbs.

I would like to see an independent reviewer tow a 4500lb trailer with the Ridgeline and the Tacoma back-to-back in a variety of situations (not just up the Ike) and see which rig they felt more comfortable with towing the load. Most towing reviews are made by truck guys, and they typically have preconceived notions going into the review.
 

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Transverse engine and unibody are two limiting factors, engine/trans, weight of vehicle, suspension also go into it, among other things. There is some equasion necessary to come up with the rating, the combos ability to handle sway is part of it.

Suv unibody is inherently stronger than the pickup unibody construction. The Ridgeline is heavier than the pilot (which has more seats and glass) due in large part to the increased beefing to the unibody necessary to achieve the same tow ratings.

Internally it is my opinion the zf9 is stronger, and the ability to pick your gear should make it a better towing experience.
 

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The unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee is rated to tow 7200lbs. Unibody is not the issue. It would be more likely that the transverse engine/trans layout could be a limiting factor.

It's possible that the Ridgeline could very well tow 7000lbs. All we know for sure is that Honda rated it at 5000lbs, we just don't know why. There are also more issues at hand when you go above towing 5000lbs, particularly with equipment (WDH), differing regulations from state to state, hitch requirements, liabilities, etc. Honda apparently also has some logic dialed in on their powertrain (in lieu of a "tow" mode) to help deal with trailering, reduce fishtailing, trailer sway, etc., and its possible that that logic is only effective up to around 5000lbs.

I would like to see an independent reviewer tow a 4500lb trailer with the Ridgeline and the Tacoma back-to-back in a variety of situations (not just up the Ike) and see which rig they felt more comfortable with towing the load. Most towing reviews are made by truck guys, and they typically have preconceived notions going into the review.
My guess has always been that there is no one factor, but that 5000# is probably a conservative number that represents Honda’s maximum towing comfort for any of its vehicles. From a marketing strategy, I don’t think Honda wants to sell Ridgelines to people whose primary concern is towing...no one would argue there aren’t other vehicles out there that can well outperform the Ridgeline, and those buyers are probably the type who actually need a body on frame truck for their uses. Those buyers would only be dissatisfied with the Ridgeline.

As someone who pulled 5000# a few hundred miles, a few times, with a G1, it definitely didn’t put that truck’s best foot forward. The mpgs were atrocious and the engine sounded like it wanted to go straight to redline in the event of a downshift. On the G2, that same load (big triple-tube pontoon boat with large motor) makes the truck do...nothing. I mean it’s just super easy to tow with.

If the pubs and websites reviewed the Ridgeline with a 7000# tow limit, they’d very likely want to test it with a 6000+ load, and the reviews would suffer for it.

Simply stated, in absolutely no other dimension (comfort, power, acceleration, comfort, drivability, resale value, etc) does the Ridgeline markedly underperform next to it’s close competitors. Honda is a conservative company, and I think they’d rather lose a few sales to people who need to tow 5000-6500# trailers than be marked as being a weak performer in towing overall.
 

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Care to share what you paid for the EX-L?
$35,297 - Purchased from dealer located 1 hour 15 mins from home. The nearby dealer was $1200 higher for the same model and $600 higher for the towing package. Plus they were doing all usual dealer BS.

Dealer we purchased from was no BS. Might have done better using Costco, but the Costco Auto Program sends you to the dealership fleet sales, and they wanted to schedule an appointment for the next day. We were limited for time and wanted to wrap things up quickly.

 

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...The Pilot achieves the same highway fuel economy rating with both the 6-speed and 9-speed. The city rating is 1 MPG higher with the 9-speed.
Plus I think the 9AT comes with the generally-unpopular idle stop feature that can be turned off but defaults to "on" when the vehicle is first started.
 

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Plus I think the 9AT comes with the generally-unpopular idle stop feature that can be turned off but defaults to "on" when the vehicle is first started.
You are correct, I guess they could choose whether or not to do that on the ridge.

I also dislike the vcm that I believe all current 3.5s employ, the crank dragging 3 dead cylinders just seems dumb. I haven't read any issues with hondas, but gm engines are notorious for odd engine wear (rings and lifters) as a result of vcm. Mazda had a major recall due to issues with vcm as well. I'll take 1 less mpg for more engine longevity (and probably better mpg as the engine wears).

I had high hopes for a 2020 ridge release this week, oh well, 6 business days left in September.
 

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I think we've seen enough overheating of transmissions (think I saw transfer case or diff too??) with people towing rv's on the ridge with larger frontal areas or on the verge of weight limit.

As a mech eng that has done some powertrain design, I'd bet it's the transverse transmission, transfer case and or diff. Heat build up, and maybe sizing too.

Obviously it's on the verge of too hot now without better cooling and prob more fluid capacity with bigger frontal area RV's. Honda had to make a choice. Keep the same size components as the pilot etc and save some money and keep price down and mpg up. Or strengthen the tranny, diffs etc and cost more, reduce mpg etc. The bean counters win 99% of the time in engineering. Ask me how I know haha.

Not to say the frame and suspension can handle more or not. Only the engineers at Honda know. Could be as simple as the sway bar. F150's 4x4 crew cab 2.7 Ecoboost without the tow package for the bigger front sway bar only town 6k lbs! Yet it's the same cooling system and frame.
 

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I made a mistake in not clarifying my statement "not designed to tow". What I was trying to say is that it's not a body on frame truck designed for severe use or heavy towing.

I do not tow and don't want to pay extra money for a feature I won't use. However, I will engine the extra room on the interior, the better mileage, the more comfortable ride, and better handling.
 

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You are correct [9AT Pilot has idle stop], I guess they could choose whether or not to do that on the ridge.
My guess is if the idle stop feature contributes to any part of the 1 mpg gain for EPA city rating (vs. 6AT), Honda will put it on the 2020 RL. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention when I test drove a 2019 Pilot with 9AT, but I never even noticed the idle stop feature during several stops I made on the trip, including one at a stoplight. I know that I did not turn off the idle stop after starting the vehicle, so it should have been on. Hard to believe that idle stop could be so subtle.
 

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My guess is if the idle stop feature contributes to any part of the 1 mpg gain for EPA city rating (vs. 6AT), Honda will put it on the 2020 RL. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention when I test drove a 2019 Pilot with 9AT, but I never even noticed the idle stop feature during several stops I made on the trip, including one at a stoplight. I know that I did not turn off the idle stop after starting the vehicle, so it should have been on. Hard to believe that idle stop could be so subtle.
Oh, It's not subtle - I assure you. :) You'll also see the tachometer go to zero. Dozens of conditions have to be met for the idle stop feature to stop the engine - the battery has to be fully charged, the cabin temperature has to be within a certain range, the powertrain has to be at operating temperature, the wheel has to be pointed straight ahead, the vehicle can't be on an incline, etc. Idle stop won't always stop the engine every time you stop and it will sometimes restart while you're stopped which is when it's really noticeable.

Speaking of batteries, assuming the 2020 Ridgeline gains idle stop, it will also switch to a more expensive AGM battery. There's a chance it won't get idle stop since the 2018-2019 Odyssey LX through through EX-L had the 9HP without idle stop.
 

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...Speaking of batteries, assuming the 2020 Ridgeline gains idle stop, it will also switch to a more expensive AGM battery. There's a chance it won't get idle stop since the 2018-2019 Odyssey LX through through EX-L had the 9HP without idle stop.
I guess it's possible the right conditions weren't met during my test drive for idle stop to engage. So do you think idle stop on the 9AT plays any role in the EPA city mpg rating?
 

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So a bit off topic, but I see that the 2020 Ford Explorer will be available in a hybrid V6 version that can tow up to 5,000 lbs. With "Intelligent 4WD", the SUV is rated 23 city/26 hwy/25 combined mpg, giving it a potential 450 mile range per tank. OK, that highway rating is not impressive but the city and combined ratings are pretty good, as is the towing capability. I doubt that powertrain would fit in the new Ranger but Ford might have hybrid plans for it too. One thing is certain: mid-sized truck competition is only going to get tougher for the RL. Is Honda up to the challenge?
 
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