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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been lurking here for a couple of months and this is my first post. We were finally able to test drive an RTL-T over the weekend, and both my wife, child, and I are convinced it's the vehicle for us. However, I do have this one nagging concern about ground clearance that maybe I can get answered here. I live in upstate NY (where the snow can get very deep) and travel to other places where the issues are difference but the consequences the same vis a vis clearance - Anza-Borrego Desert Park and Big Bend National Park - which recommend high clearance vehicles. Dunno exactly what that means, because I drive a Jeep Rubicon and it's never been an issue. Not talking about rock crawling or anything technical - just pitted and overgrown tracks that can tie up the bottom of a vehicle and would make my travels in the RL dicey.

So, have you ever taken your vehicle places where ground clearance was an issue? I don't want a theoretical answer, I'm looking for real life experiences. What happened? Have you ever been stuck in the vehicle and needed to be towed. What happened/why? What have you done to increase the clearance of your 2nd Gen RL? I may or may not spring for a leveling kit, but that wouldn't make a difference. Seems that only a change in tire size would help and I'm pretty sure that I'd go the 245/70/17 route, which should work without any mods. Is there any reason - not talking about looks, but about performance - not to go with this tire dimension? Can anyone definitively say whether or not a non-stock tire will or will not affect the AWD system and it's computer calculations (I know it will affect speedometer accuracy), but I haven't seen a definitive statement about AWD performance.

These are the nagging questions that have stopped me from pulling the trigger until now, but I really am trigger happy and want to make a move quickly. All advice - but not vague opinionating - welcome.

Thanks.
 

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I tow a snowmobile trailer and in the last two years I have towed in snow that was deep enough to get up to the frame. Sure, it was light fluffy snow but I had no trouble pulling the trailer through it with my RL2.

Nope, didn't get stuck. Did get the Jeep Cherokee fwd rental stuck though in the same parking lot during two different club meeting nights. Just rocked the crap out of it and got it out but it was stuck pretty good. Same parking lot I towed the trailer in with the RL with no troubles.

Steve
 

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I'm from Texas and I've never left the pavement in my G2, so I can't comment about clearance issues. However, some things to keep in mind are below. Gary Flint was the chief engineer of the G1 Ridgeline. Most of this information still applies to the G2 and other vehicles, for that matter.

"ROC: How integrated are the stock wheels into the design/suspension?

Gary Flint: All vehicles are engineered and validated with a specific wheel size, off-set and DLR (dynamic loaded radius). Changing any of these parameters can affect wheel bearing life, brake life/performance, roll-over stability, crash performance, and speedometer calibration (which is regulated even for a consumer due the inaccuracy in the odometer reading). The Ridgeline tire provides the best overall performance, handling, snow/ice performance, off-road performance, rolling resistance, and load rating. The owner’s manual verbiage is very strong on this subject with good reason.

The following post already adequately commented on this issue:

Before modifying your wheels, you should read page 180-181 of your owner’s manual:>

The warning in bold states:

"Improper accessories or modifications can affect your vehicles handling, stability, and performance, and cause a crash which you can be hurt or killed."

Follow all instructions in this owner’s manual regarding accessories and modifications.

Specific examples of what not to do are listed on page 181:

Lowering the vehicle with a non-Honda suspension kit that significantly reduces round clearance can allow the undercarriage to hit speed bumps or other raised objects which could cause the airbags to deploy.

Raising your vehicle with a non-Honda suspension lit can affect the handling and stability.

Non-Honda wheels, because they are a universal design, can cause excessive stress on suspension components and will not be compatible with the tire pressure monitoring system.

Larger or smaller wheels can interfere with the operation of your vehicles antilock brakes and other systems.

Modifying your steering wheel or any other part of your vehicle’s safety system could make the systems ineffective.

The Ridgeline’s tires and wheels were specifically designed to meet the load rating, handling, and crash performance of this vehicle. Any aftermarket wheel will not meet the strength requirements these wheels have been subjected to. Therefore it is an exceedingly bad idea to replace them with ANYTHING other than the Honda accessory wheel. Additionally, you should be aware making this type of modification voids any warranty claim relating to the suspension, brakes or drivetrain. Proceed with caution.

Increasing the tire diameter changes the radius of the wheel which in effect changes the gear ratio. This will have a significant negative affect on the launch performance of your vehicle and is therefore ill advised. It will also affect your ability to haul and tow. Any changes resulting in an increase of DLR are not advised because of the significant affect on the overall final drive ratio. This will affect the dynamic performance and torque margin when cruising on the highway (resulting in more frequent shifting).

Changing the off-set or width of the wheel significantly affects the load inputs into the suspension and wheel bearings. Again, altering the geometry of the suspension in this fashion is ill advised.

The wheel also plays a role in the crash performance of your vehicle. A large wheel such as that found on the Ridgeline, is driven rearward and affects the crash mode of the vehicle. Altering the wheel with an aftermarket wheel that certainly does not meet Honda’s strength or crash requirements is dangerous and could result in death or bodily injury. The owners’ manual verbiage is very strong on this matter.

Finally, the tire was specifically developed to meet the on-road, off-road, snow performance, NVH level, and load capacity for this vehicle. If you change the tire to an alternate design, make sure the load index rating is an equivalent number (=105). This modification will significantly affect the ability to maintain safe and confident handling when your Ridgeline is loaded.
Ridgeline Owners Club | 2006 Interview with Gary Flint - Page 5

Are you considering a 2018 RTL-T? You may already be aware that a moonroof and power sliding rear window have been added to the 2019's.
 

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Couple things to keep in mind:

The lift kits made for the Ridgeline are suspension lifts, not body lifts, so you absolutely do gain ground clearance. Additionally, there is no "pumpkin" on the axles to get hung up between the ruts. With the proper lift and tires, you can get 2-2.5" additional clearance, but other vehicle components will be affected (speedo, MPG, handling, etc.).

When driving in snow, you can generally drive through snow that is deeper than your ground clearance. This is because 1) snow is compressible and will compress under your vehicle as you drive over it, and 2) the snow under your tires will compress to a point, but your tires will also ride on top of that snow to a point, thus increasing your "effective" ground clearance. One member here posted about driving through 14" snow with snow tires on, with no problems.

Ridgeline is not built for significant off-road duties, but it can probably handle more than most people are willing to throw at it.
 

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There's a lot of info to weigh on this subject, as well as personal comfort levels with the potential risks from various modifications. The safest route to go is undoubtedly OEM. But as you can read in numerous threads, many ROCers have chosen to change wheels and tires, and a fair number have gone with the lifts to gain ground clearance. I'm definitely not endorsing any products or manufacturers, but I am intrigued by what Jsport (spin-off of Honda Performance Development/Racing) has done. Their high-priced leveling kits include 1.5" front lifts, 17" or 18" XD wheels with 35mm offset (OEM is 55mm), and 245/70R17 tires (tire size for 18" wheels unknown).

A scattering of Honda dealers across the country has decided to ignore liability risks and install Jsport kits on flagship RLs for promotion and/or profit. Does that mean the modified trucks are safe? I have no way of knowing. My preference would be for Honda to offer a mild offroad version of the RL with enhanced ground clearance and increased undercarriage protection, but that seems very unlikely. At least there are aftermarket skid plates available -- hard to see how those would cause any safety or performance issues.

BTW, several ROCers have commented about clearance problems they've had while traveling off-pavement, and at least one owner posted about puncturing the oil pan. Maybe they will weigh in here.
 

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Couple more considerations:

Check out the wheels/tires subforum, as there are a number of folks there who have gone to A/T tires and non-stop sizes. Fender well clearance can quickly become an issue, especially with a lift kit.

I've been to the Big Bend area. There are rocks there big enough to cause damage, but you should be ok if you pay attention. A bigger issue may be sharp rocks, where you'll want a heavier tire like a KO2. If you run those tires full-time, however, you will take a hit in MPG and performance. Consider an extra set of wheels ig you do this often.

If you are purchasing a RTL-T, consider a 2019 model. It will be more expensive, but will have a sunroof and sliding back window, if those are important to you, and they will add resale value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the comments. Very helpful everyone, and I loved the video links.

the JSPORT mod is what I am aiming for - seems pretty conservative when weighed against all the other 'upgrade' options, and I assume it leaves the warranty intact since some dealers are offering it. I originally thought I'd go the KO2 route, but those tires might be a tad heavy for the vehicle - I'll have to check the weight in the 245/70R/17 version of the tire. There are other tires on my radar screen, though I won't be making the change right away, obviously.

I just moved to the US from Australia where I've been living for the past 9 years. Had the most amazing 'bush' vehicle that never let me down, and I'm kicking myself over and over for not having shipped it here: 2nd generation Pajero. 1992 turbo diesel. Purely mechanical, and any farmer who fixed their own tractors could fix it. Never let me down, ever, and I took it everywhere. Kick. Kick. Kick. I know the RL is a different vehicle altogether, but ......

Actually, will probably buy a 2018 RTL-E. I want the moonroof and sliding glass and the price will probably be pretty close to the 2019 RTL-T.
 

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Yeah, you could have imported that Pajero, since it is at least 25 years old. If you do some dedicated off-roading, you might check out the Mahindra Roxor when it becomes available.. closest thing you'll get to a diesel Pajero, but it's not road-legal.

Jsport is warranted through the dealer, not Honda, so pick a good dealer. It is expensive for what it is, but the warranty is nice peace-of-mind, and you can roll it into financing..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Actually, I don't do serious off-roading. No technical stuff and no rock hopping for sport. I just like to know that I can get to go where I want to go and get back again. The Pajero would take me into the bush and, more importantly, get me out again. And, yeah, I know .... I could have/should have exported it into the country. Still kicking myself. But, like in the US, the distances between places is enormous, and 500 or 700 miles gets pretty tiring in an older vehicle. I remember a trip I took from NY to Big Bend in the Rubicon and, by the time I arrived, I was shot. So, I'll give up a bit of capability for a bit of comfort. Thus, the RL.
 

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Sounds like you have a plan. The Ridgeline can also fit a couple dirt bikes, or a Pioneer 500 in the bed, if you want to extend your off-roading, or have a ride out if you get too far into the bushes.
 

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For what it’s worth, I took my Ridgeline G2 up logging “roads” that I would have never considered before. The video shared earlier in this thread should answer all your question.

Frankly, if I was concerned, or planned to do a significant amount more of off road driving for hunting or whatever, I would consider the skid plates before anything else. But that’s for my real world, perhaps not yours.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Actually, will probably buy a 2018 RTL-E. I want the moonroof and sliding glass and the price will probably be pretty close to the 2019 RTL-T.
The 2019 RTL-E is $3,200 more than the RTL-T AWD. That price gets you:

Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver-assistive features
Auto high-beam headlights
Blind Spot Information System (BSI) with Cross Traffic Monitor
LED low-beam headlights with auto-on/off
150-watt/400-watt truck-bed power outlet
Body-colored parking sensors (front and rear)
Heated steering wheel
Blue ambient LED lighting
Driver’s seat with two-position memory
540-watt premium audio system with 8 speakers, including subwoofer
Truck-Bed Audio System
 

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The 2019 RTL-E is $3,200 more than the RTL-T AWD. That price gets you:

Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver-assistive features
Auto high-beam headlights
Blind Spot Information System (BSI) with Cross Traffic Monitor
LED low-beam headlights with auto-on/off
150-watt/400-watt truck-bed power outlet
Body-colored parking sensors (front and rear)
Heated steering wheel
Blue ambient LED lighting
Driver’s seat with two-position memory
540-watt premium audio system with 8 speakers, including subwoofer
Truck-Bed Audio System
You've got it backward ZRog :laugh:

He rather get the 2018 RTL-E...("price will probably be close to the 2019 RTL-T")

More options on the E...What's this crap about 2019 ?? :nerd:...It's all about their marketing of adding options...increasing sales....a plus for potential consumers, I guess. :laugh:
 

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You've got it backward ZRog :laugh:

He rather get the 2018 RTL-E...("price will probably be close to the 2019 RTL-T")

More options on the E...What's this crap about 2019 ?? :nerd:...It's all about their marketing of adding options...increasing sales....a plus for potential consumers, I guess. :laugh:
Thanks. :)

*grabs glasses*
 

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I've haven't had my 2018 RTL-E off-road yet, but I took my 2007 Ridgeline, my 1995 Chevy Silverado, and my 1983 Chevy S-10 off road plenty of times. I don't just mean dirt roads or fire trails, but without the low gear ratio I wouldn't try climbing some of the hills I climbed in the Chevy's.

I would love to have a heavy-duty off-road vehicle with the ride comfort, gas mileage, safety, etc. of the Ridgeline, but you already figured out that isn't going to happen. I think the Ridgeline is a great compromise. Look underneath and figure out where your high and low spots are so you know where to steer if you do have to get over a rock. If you saw the video above (thank you to those who filmed and posted that), you may have noticed that the Ridgeline did well, but she could have made it easier in some areas by picking a better line, e.g., driving a bit to the side to get the truck up higher instead of driving straight down the deepest part of the ruts (if everone did this it would also keep the trail in better shape for the next user). At the beginning the trail may have been too narrow to get more to the side, I'm not sure.

And it's a good idea to bring a shovel if you're going off road. But in 35 years of going places where I see no other vehicles I've only got stuck once, and just as I got the shovel out another vehicle miraculously appeared before I even had to dig. I had tow ropes so they pulled me right out.

And I remember 40 years ago doing a little off-roading in a VW Rabbit. AWD is a great idea, but not always necessary.

Also, the Ridgeline probably is considered "high-ground clearance" for purposes of driving a road designated as "High Ground Clearance Vehicles Recommended." If signs also indicate that 4-wheel drive is required, you may need something better designed for that, but maybe not. I've driven my 2007 Ridgeline in Death Valley through what I think is called Marble Canyon. The washboard road leading to the canyon was pretty bad, but I had no trouble getting through the canyon, although it did require some care. But then another day I saw a mustang driving out of the canyon so unless he drove the wrong way up from the bottom and turned around, he made it through some terrain that I never would have tried in a car.

Incidentally, Edmonds just did an interesting test. (Try edmonds.com to see if you can find it). Someone long ago blew their shocks/struts out on a G1 Ridgeline on the washboard road leading to the Racetrack in Death Valley. Honda knew of this and designed the G2 suspension to be able to handle that kind of road. Edmonds drove a G2 Ridgeline, followed by a 2016 Tacoma, and as a support vehicle they brought a Nissan Titan. The Tacoma and the Titan were designed for off-road use. The G2 developed a leak in one shock, but still functioned ok. The other two trucks were in much worse shape. I think each badly blew 2 shocks, and when brought to the shop they found that one of those trucks actually had ruined all 4 shocks. Not sure why, I've driven those kinds of roads plenty in G1 and both Chevy's with no problems. Maybe they went too slow.
 

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Still can't believe the 2019, 3 yrs in, Honda is still fracking the US base model forcing higher models. Recall Canadian Sport has sliding back, mid model has sunroof. Honda sensing and bigger radio on all.
BUT NO TAILGATE lock.
...
If you are purchasing a RTL-T, consider a 2019 model. It will be more expensive, but will have a sunroof and sliding back window, if those are important to you, and they will add resale value.
 
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