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First time poster, but I’ve been reading the forum since the beginning of the year. I’m convinced that the 2020 RL is the right choice for me, though still have to convince the wife. We’ve got 9 acres in Western NC, and the 900+ mile trip 4 or so times a year is wearing thin. My plan is to buy sometime this summer. The biggest reason for going with the 2020 is Honda Sensing – I’m kinda up there in years, and appreciate the extra safety. And a 2010 Sport will definitely be less expensive than a 2019 RTL-E (if there is any still available).

I have two questions. First is FWD vs AWD. I don’t plan on towing anything and we’re only there maybe a third of the time. Yearly snowfall is 12-15 inches, but again, we’re not there that much. I’m leaning toward the lower price and better mileage of FWD, but am willing to listen to other viewpoints. (case in point was when I was buying a tractor, I didn’t think having the loader was worth it, but I was convinced and don’t regret the decision) I’m leaning toward the Sport since I don’t have to spend the extra money for the leather, sunroof, power rear window.

Second is buying strategy. I’m a cash buyer. You see videos on YouTube that say “Don’t tell the dealer you’re a cash buyer until after you have your price and you are sitting down with the finance guy”. The point being that they make money on the financing and if they think you will be doing that, they will give you a better price. One problem with this approach is that it seems you have to go in and spend a lot of time at different dealers. The other method, which I’ve seen described here, is that you are more upfront, that you email a number of dealers and tell them you are a cash buyer, and ask for their best OTD price.

Any advice/suggestions/recommendations would be much appreciated.
 

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2019 RTL-E (white on beige) in central Texas
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......
My plan is to buy sometime this summer. The biggest reason for going with the 2020 is Honda Sensing – I’m kinda up there in years, and appreciate the extra safety. And a 2010 Sport will definitely be less expensive than a 2019 RTL-E (if there is any still available).
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I’m leaning toward the lower price and better mileage of FWD
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Assuming that was a typo and you're considering a 2020 Sport?

Hopefully you've noted that while all 2020s have the same "Honda Sensing" features, that does not include the Blind Spot Information System (BSI) with Cross-Traffic Monitor. BSI is a separate "Driver Assist Technology" feature and is only available on the RTL-E / BE in 2020 (and previous years).

Personally, this 'older driver' really appreciates that particular "Driver Assist Technology" feature on my '19 RTL-E (along with the rest of the Honda Sensing stuff). IME it gives very welcome warning about 'too fast driving / suddenly approaching' folks when trying to back out of parking spots when visibility may be obstructed.

But then, the RTL-E is only available with AWD, and yeah you pay for all that along with some other stuff that I (and I suspect you) could do without (e.g. in-bed audio that I never use). Forced option bundling is sometimes a bit of a bummer, just want to ensure you understand the BSI availability thing as you lock-in on trim levels.

Happy shopping!

PS - I don't deal with snow / ice at all in my region, but I'm convinced that AWD is a huge benefit in rain / wet streets for me in my temperate climate driving. All-and-all I'm very glad I took the financial hit and went with the -E for all it offers, but YMMV of course.

FWIW my post about life with an RTL-E: One Year Report and Impressions
 

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Personally, I wouldn't consider anything other than AWD. Models with AWD have 0.59" more ground clearance and an auxiliary transmission cooler. The AWD system works all the time and provides significant handling improvements on dry pavement and virtually eliminates wheel spin on wet pavement. Resale value will be higher as well.

The going rate for 2020 RTL-Es is +/- $38,500 + TT&L. There are a number of ways to buy:

1. Research your pricing and email your firm offer to multiple dealers who have what you're looking for in stock. The first/closest one to accept your offers wins. This is the method I often use. It's quick and both parties are happy with little or not haggling.

2. Email multiple dealers asking for their best price. Compare the quotes and play the dealers against each other, if necessary.

3. Hire an auto broker or use an online buying service.

It's true that dealers get incentives from lenders when buyers finance, but that's usually in the low hundreds of dollars or less - especially with low, 0.9-2.9% interest rates that Honda is currently offering.
 

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Plain and simple, the handling with the AWD is much better. Once you have and drive an AWD vehicle such as the Ridgeline, you will NOT want to go back to driving anything less.

My daughter has a Nissan Murano and when riding with her I was frightened with the speed at which she took corners. Once I drove her car, I could see (and feel) how well it handled and it was a no brainer for me to go for the AWD Ridgeline. I'm NOT looking back!
 
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