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My local dealer has 35 Ridgelines now. Trucks are supposed to be hot sellers, what gives? Before Honda throws in the towel, the RL needs a new nose and quick. If that fails I guess that folks want transfer cases that they will rarely use versus a great on road truck. Also, all other trucks (I think) are their own creation from the ground up, not a Pilot with a bed. This IMO is a double edge sword because the RL is eliminated from competing against all midsizers below 35k due to Honda's arrogance in eliminating the RTS trim. This creates a starting point too high in the price range. A MMR if priced correctly with an RTL for 36k with no BS games may help. As good as E is, it's too expensive before discounts and I think consumers just go for full size where there is much more value. Nice try Honda, but the market has spoken. As mentioned in other posts, Honda's target buyer for the RL is a Honda owner. Well, Honda owners have caught on that Honda is not what they used to be (just look at Consumer Reports) and may be exiting the brand. If Honda can't sell trucks in this market for whatever reason, it's time to throw in the towel. Honda should be worried, they have only 3 models that are up in sales YTD.
 

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Unfortunately for Honda and Honda fans, there's a lot of truth and accuracy in what you say. I loved the Ridgeline when I first saw one in 2006 and I've loved them enough to have owned four of them. I wouldn't think twice about buying another one today if I could justify owning a truck. Despite all my hope and enthusiasm, the Ridgeline continues to slowly shrink in a growing market and I just don't see that changing.

I don't see how they can maintain even current levels of production if the Passport takes off.

The two closest Honda dealers to me have typically have 4-6 Ridgelines in stock. For the last several months, they've had 2-3x that amount even as sales continue to decrease.
 

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I'm still happy with mine, and hope to be able to buy another when the time comes. One person in my neighborhood recently replaced a Tacoma with a Ridgeline (anecdotal, I know).
 

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The Ridgeline is still a great vehicle I could care less about the body on frame trucks. We use the Ridgeline for
travel long road trips. This is like DC or MD to say Myrtle Beach SC. I know 2nd Generation is much better than G1. But instead of buying crossover Suv the Ridgeline makes an excellent choice.
I think it has been lack of knowledge about Ridgeline even this many years. Honda stI'll doesn't advertise it like they should. The appearance has to change some not square jaw look but more aggressive. They could do dual square exhaust like on Acura. US versions should have got turn signal mirrors. Honda ***** foots around with this kind of stuff. They could add this stuff and not raise price on Ridgeline to make it more complete package.
This vehicle is not competition for any vehicle in Acura line-up. Accord/TLX Pilot/MDX CRV/RDX ect.
 

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What tough and tumble truck guys want isn't what the Ridgeline is. The concept shown at Sema would sell. It's not a UTV and it's not a truck. It's a 'tween market vehicle but would be road legal. That's where the UTV market and rough and tumble crowd go. The softie truck we know and most of us on here love isn't what a truck market is. Honda didn't care and just decided to market their version of a truck. They get what they sow in this case. And that's limited sales to soft truck buyers. (me included as remember, I keep mentioning how I didn't want a truck... I wanted the utility of a truck with a SUV under it.)

IMO, if they would "fix" the front end and make it truck looking, and pipe in some Hemi noise into the cab, make a low end truck model for entry and market it as a reliable Honda truck (think Toyota marketing of rough and tumble on tv). It would do better. But, if they are content with it still as a "add on" marketing vehicle with limited sales then nothing is going to change. Trucks have their own factory, trucks have their own marketing, trucks sell in numbers like Fords F150 at almost 800,000 units a year. Why wouldn't they want some of that market ? Seems stupid to me. But it would require a very very VERY large effort that I don't think Honda USA has and could pull off. They don't have the design group, they don't have the marketing for it, they don't have the engineering (think 4wd systems like trucks have) and they don't have a V8 engine or a decent 350hp V6 to offer up. They are screwed due to all of that. So, we get what we get. A soft SUV like truck that doesn't have truck marketing appeal or desire.

Steve
 

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Unfortunately for Honda and Honda fans, there's a lot of truth and accuracy in what you say. I loved the Ridgeline when I first saw one in 2006 and I've loved them enough to have owned four of them. I wouldn't think twice about buying another one today if I could justify owning a truck. Despite all my hope and enthusiasm, the Ridgeline continues to slowly shrink in a growing market and I just don't see that changing.

I don't see how they can maintain even current levels of production if the Passport takes off.

The two closest Honda dealers to me have typically have 4-6 Ridgelines in stock. For the last several months, they've had 2-3x that amount even as sales continue to decrease.
Well, i guess if they make only a half-hearted attempt on the 2020, i may have to wait until they offer incentives, or get a Passport and keep an ugly trailer in the yard.

Trucks and SUVs are hot right now. If Hyundai sees success with the Santa Cruz, that could light the unibody pickup market on fire, since they would probably market it better and let people know the advantages of unibody trucks. Honda could give the Ridgeline a little more of its own identity and start soaking up the market. There is nothing that says they can't build Ridgelines in Ohio. If car sales continue to tank, and Honda wants to survive, they may have to do just that.
 

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As a somewhat long-time owner (2 previous G1s and now a G2), gosh I really hate to think about this unique vehicle going away. But Honda must sell vehicles to maintain a brand, and things don't look very good in that regard. And that's sad to me.

How to solve the problem? I for sure will not claim any unique insight, but I will offer an observation from my perspective. So fundamentally, why do people spend money on something? At the most basic level, they perceive that a commodity has value for them, so they fork over some cash. For probably lots of reasons, Honda has not succeeded in creating a value perception among a competitively large universe. As one who has spent money on Ridgelines, I've regularly drilled down to why we have bought Ridgelines . . . and for us it has always come down to: versatility/utility. And I personally see a huge failure on Honda's part to effectively communicate this strategic advantage over its competition.

Rehearse these points with me: For neither generation has appearance been an advantage (the G1's looks only a mother could love and the soft profile of the G2). For neither generation has raw performance been an advantage (realistic, but no "wow factor" in HP, torque, payload capacity, tow rating, etc.). For neither generation has user oriented technology been an advantage (good grief, the G1 stayed in the dark ages forever and the G2 has lots of competition for safety features and user tech, etc.). You get my train of thought here. Kind of stating the obvious points that have been well discussed here and elsewhere.

I sit on corporate boards (but not Honda's), and many/most of you understand strategic decision making and the factors that go into it. The bottom line is to generate profits and create cash flow for sustainability, among other things. So trying to look at Honda's options, do they spend capital on retooling a plant to modify the truck's appearance? Do they spend cash on developing a higher performance version to create a "wow factor" that is competitive in the mid-size truck arena? Do they tweak their technology offerings in each trim to find an edge there? Well, maybe, on that point. Each of those choices involves some speculative investment that may or may not generate a return.

For me, if I were to have a vote in management, I would strongly advise Honda's Marketing Department to devise a strategy that leverages the key advantage that the Ridgeline offers over its competition: versatility/utility. Marketing dollars are cheaper than capital dollars, and the marketing/advertising labor costs are more limited than ongoing manufacturing costs.

But it seems to me that one constant throughout the entire life of the Ridgeline is its limited marketing - particularly focused on the things the truck does so well over and against its competition. We've complained about this for ages. And in the face of a lack of focused marketing, so many of us are stopped in a parking lot by someone who is amazed at the dual action tailgate, for instance. You could rattle off lots of your own examples, but collectively those examples illustrate why you bought the truck. It is so darn useful across so many applications! We've seen hints at some good marketing attempts - like a current Honda Days TV spot running that actually briefly features the Ridge's in-bed trunk (but look quickly or you will miss it). And of course the Super Bowl launch spots that focused on the in-bed sound capabilities (a feature I've come to love and use a lot), but it came across as almost toy like. Cute buzz, but how's that going to help me get my gear to the deer lease?

So this has turned into just a huge personal rant, I guess. But it does reflect why we chose to spend lots of dollars on each of our Ridgelines: it performs very well across the full regime of our vehicle performance needs. Is it the best looking? Nope. Is it the best performing? Of course not. Does it offer a unique set of technology offered no where else? It's competitive, but not a deal maker. To change any of those factors would require lots of capital investment by Honda, and to this point it doesn't appear that they are motivated to spend those kinds of dollars.

What Honda could do is amplify what our own independent mechanic told us back in 2010 when we needed a better tow vehicle for our ski/fish boat (only ~3800lbs when fully loaded up). He said, "take a look at the Ridgeline. It will certainly tow your boat, but it will also do so much more and do so dependably. I know how you use your vehicles, and this will be your best bet." So we, in our total ignorance, started shopping used Ridgelines to get our toes wet and found a very gently used 2009 RTS. And our mechanic was right. Sure, it did a great job towing our boat, but all of a sudden we began to experience the excellent handling and ride and functionality for a daily driver truck. Then went on to get a new 2011 RTL, and we continued to introduce friends and strangers to what our truck could do. And that was considerably amplified when we raised the performance stakes higher when we matched that RTL to a wonderful travel trailer. Towed that TT for over 12,000 miles with that 2011 until we opted to trade it in for our current 2018 RTL-E. And we continue to ask that truck to do an amazing array of tasks - including an even better towing experience with our ~4650lb travel trailer (when fully loaded). And I catch holy hell on RV forums by our selection of a tow vehicle. But the virtually universal common thread to the arguments that "real truck" drivers offer is based on pure ignorance and false perception. They don't know and they don't want to know.

So I'm back to my original thought. As I posted a few years ago about our then owned RTL, something like "this truck does so much so well" - just out of the pure joy of appreciating its versatility/utility - I think Honda has its best shot of increasing its sales numbers by marketing the obvious: its versatility/utility. If they are motivated to increase Ridgeline sales numbers, redreaming their marketing/sales strategy seems to be the best bang for the buck pathway ahead. Create the need in people's minds/hearts that will help them understand why it would be worth it to spend their money on a Ridgeline, because it does so much so well.

But what do I know? I've just bought three of them over the years, and tried very hard not to buy our most recent '18 RTL-E, but it once again came down to the truck's versatility/utility over and against some other great 1/2 tons and mid-size offerings. Not enough boxes checked across the board - for how we use our truck. Is it the answer for everybody? Of course not. But I'm confident that there are enough other potential buyers out there for Honda to speak to who simply do not know . . . yet
 

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Honda puts very little marketing behind the Ridgeline, they don’t offer lower end trims like the competition with corresponding lower price points, they don’t offer any sort of aggressive leasing programs and also have no promotional deals on the truck.

If they wanted to sell more, they could. The truck is highly acclaimed in the media but when cross shopping it all comes down to dollars. You have to really WANT the Ridgeline and be OK paying the premium.

Now with the Passport coming on line, capacity in Alabama will be strained. Honda will push whatever vehicle they make the highest margin on to keep the plant humming, likely the Passport.
 

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Honda - Terrific Stealth Marketing.

If they sold Sushi - "Cold dead fish"

If they ran Hospitals - "Come to our Emergency Room to Die"

If they sold pickups - "Pilot with a bed" - oops that is what they did.
 

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I got my RTL-E a few months ago and I love it. Prices are steep at this trim level but I wanted the safety features for when my son starts driving. I think every car should have blind spot detection these days. I don't need truck bed audio but I have it. Honda should offer these critical safety features at lower levels, like at the Sport level. My dealer in Seekonk, RI had about 10 Ridgelines in stock and I don't think that they were moving. I basically got it for invoice around $37K. Great dealer BTW, ask for Cliff.

I had a 95' Tacoma and drove like a truck, not sure how they drive now. It was loud on the highway with a rough ride. Long trips were exhausting. AWD beats 4WD hands down on snowy roads. My Tacoma would fishtail on snowy roads even in 4WD. I've also compared the bed sizes of the Ridgline with the crew cab Tacomas, Colorados and even some F150s (is there a short/long bed option on the F150?) and there's not a huge difference. Their beds are bit deeper. So not sure what Honda can do, I like the style but maybe it needs a bit of a step up in macho style. Tacomas have gone for a bit of a military-type style which looks pretty good.
 

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Gas is cheap and the Ridgeline lacks testosterone.

I had a full size three quarter ton for 20 years. A Ranger before that. Currently, the RL meets my needs and desires better than any other truck on the road.

My primary use is commuting to work. But I use the bed for big/heavy/messy/smelly stuff at least twice a week. Today it was drywall, tomorrow it’s trash and garbage.

I also pull a couple of different boats and it handles them with authority and grace. No drama at the ramp. No bounding and jittering on the road. Credit independent suspension and smart AWD.

Honda isn’t going to open very many minds with the unibody construction and FWD/AWD configuration. Regardless of how well the truck rides, handles, tows, hauls, and quietly goes about its business.

If they could hit the magic 30 mpg number that could move the dial a little. But it might require softening the truck even more.

Unless they fundamentally change the layout of the vehicle to mimick every other truck on the road I would bet that increased marketing dollars would be money wasted.

I suspect Honda will do little to change the platform at the next iteration. I don’t think it’s a position of arrogance or dictating what customers “should” want, I think it’s just the decision to build what they feel is their best engineering solution for a number of their customers.

Honda -and Toyota to a lesser extent - have long let their reputations for quality and practicality drive their marketing. Most commercials show a picture of the car and say “see your Honda dealer today.” Maybe they mention a special lease rate or some other mild promotion.

Everybody else shows pictures and film of the one off, odd contingencies that their truck might/could/would handle if the oppprtunity ever presented itself. How many people really go blasting thru mud holes and up rocky trails
With their $50k luxury truck?

I can’t help but think they must be content with Ridgeline sales. They certainly know that larger numbers could be sold if they built an F150 clone, but that’s evidently not their overall goal.

I think some of the conservatism and holding back on market growth might come from some kind of strategy of constancy in production output. Maybe they expect a market plunge at some point and don’t want to be caught with excess capacity and the wrong product line. I’m truthfully a little worried about Ford and FCA basically abandoning their cars in the US and becoming truck companies.

Limiting production and sales would be a bizarre business model, but who knows.

I really, really, really like my Ridgeline. It pulls my 3000 pound boat without a whimper. It seats my family of 4 with room to spare. It hauls buiding materials and junk just fine. It drives really nice and competently.

At work, we take turns driving to lunch. There is a bump on I270 near our office on a sweeping curve that is barely perceptAble in my RL. In a coworker’s truck, the live axle in the back hops it wildly and unexpectedly. If more people would drive these things they’d sell more of them.

Maybe that’s a promotion idea: offer incentives for owners of 2-3 year old Tacoma’s and Colorado’s to come drive a RL.

Dad has a 2015 F150 S-crew, 4wd, 5.5’ bed, ecoboost. It pulls like a freight train. We thought it rode nicely until I got my RL. It rated payload is barely higher than my RL. It has a roomy interior, but less cleverness when it comes to space utilization.

He hauls enough gravel and other rough stuff in it that he’s better suited to a big 3 full size. But he’s not really a typical user of the species who actually hauls more than air most of the time. The RL would a-l-m-o-s-t work for him, but the Ford seems to have more built in margin for overload.

Honda isn’t going to do much to improve sales unless they start building a truck like everybody else does. Even then, it’s no guarantee of success (compare Titan and Tundra sales number to Ford and GM full sizes). I suspect Honda is content with things the way they are.

All trucks seem expensive these days and the perception is that the RL is above the rest. It seems that they are comparable to other makes when equipped the same way. But Honda’s “no option” pricing in any given trim level goes against the grain in the truck arena where there are countless options available on domestics.

I have an RTL. Mostly because I didn’t want to pay for the fancy radio and navigation in the upper trims. I wanted a RTS, but the RTL only added about $700 for heated leather seats and a few other things. Seemed like a cheap upgrade for an easier to clean interior.

I’m mystified by the desire to have even more technology in a car, so I’m definitely the odd man out when it comes to more fancy things. So listen to the radio and know how to get where I am going with maps and printed directions so have no desire for carplay, android auto, satellite, and navigation. I’m thankful Honda offered the option not to have those things.

I’m also not at all interested in the driver assistance technology. I drove a BE with it and found it intimidating and intrusive. And seeing how many misfires we get from the Forward Collision Warning in our Odyssey I’m glad I don’t have the truck braking for me. I’m not excited to see this become standard across the lineup.

Honda builds a great midsize truck. But it’s like exercise and broccoli: it’s good for just about everybody but not liked by many.

Sorry for the length of the post...

Steve
 

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Absolutely agree. Honda needs to differentiate the Ridgeline from competitors by highlighting it’s advantages, utility, and “untrucklike” handling, even boast about it’s unmacho image. A video of a Ridgeline & it’s competitors going through cones or over railroad tracks should do the trick.
 
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