For a good reason: Not well designed / planned or executed...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
I don't think it will last long... even though I just bought one a few days ago.