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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First Road Trip in a 2G - Some thoughts

I thought I'd do a little write up for people who are considering buying a RL for the first time and are doing their research. Hopefully they stumble upon my ramblings here and take something away from it.

I bought a 2017 Forest Mist Touring, a few weeks ago, with only 45,000km (28,000mi).

For full disclosure, my last two vehicles have been a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder I bought in 1999 (I lifted it with aftermarket suspension, 31x10.5 BFG KO's, Rancheros, and various other tweaks), and a 2003 4Runner Sport (AWD - not 4WD) I bought in 2012, with the 4.7L 2UZ-FE V8 and tow package. I still own the 4Runner, and it was my daily driver until I bought my 2G-RL, now my wife drives it. The 4Runner has no aftermarket mods, other than slightly larger tires, as honestly, it didnt need them. Both of these trucks saw/have seen some pretty harsh bush, and are my yard sticks for what I need in terms of capabilities. SUVs are great, but I want/needed a truck.

My wife and I have been camping at some very remote locations for nearly 25 years, so I feel I have enough experience to offer a somewhat informed opinion on this. The last 4 years, I have been towing my 16ft Alumacraft V16 on a Karavan 2500# trailer, which combined weighs around 1200# dry, with the boat motor. I carry most of our gear in the boat, ie, large tent, coolers, boat gas, trolling batteries, etc. Loaded, its around 2000#. My trucks/trailer see a lot of gravel/shale/potholed-into-oblivion roads.

I'll give you the short version of why I didnt buy a Tacoma but a Rigdeline instead: Cabin space and comfort. Specifically, the rear seats. At 11 years old, with my son behind me, with the seat adjusted to me, he had about 1" of knee room in the Tacoma. The RL cabin is huge for a mid-size truck, and will give him and his sister comfort throughout their teen years.

This trip was ~1000km (~620mi) round-trip.

General driving impressions:

Its like driving a car. It's so stable and comfortable on the highway, even dragging a couple thousand pounds behind it. Feels planted all the time, even in severe cross or head winds. Our trips go over one of the most treacherous highways in North America, the Coquihalla, and the climbs, decents, cross-winds, and sudden weather changes are all something to be reckoned with when towing up there, even in the summer months. Even towing a light load can be a test. The RL handled it dare I say better than my 4R. I was never nervous. It was like driving a tight-handling, well-fitting couch. So nice. I wasnt tired after 5 hours behind the wheel. In fact, I could easily have done a lot more. I barely noticed the trailer at all. We have a 9-11 hour trip coming up in about a month. I'm looking forward to it. Trucks drive like trucks. They dont handle well, they're harsh, and they arent very comfortable. The Ridgeline is the opposite of all that.

The 3.5LV6/6sp combo is excellent. The Grade Logic works so well. I found gear hunting to be almost non-existent. My 4R will hunt for gears a lot, especially on long, steep grades, as it wants to shift into the higher gear all the time, only having to fall back shortly thereafter. D4 is almost a requirement on the 4R, and is suggested practice when towing. The RL had little to none of that. It will happily churn away in a lower gear at higher revs or a higher gear with lower revs, and shift when needed. I didnt need D4 at all for climbing.

The 3.5 loves to rev, and I'm willing to oblige. A worked engine is an engine that lasts, imo. On the really steep grades, the engine holding a VTec-range rev sounds glorious. The low end of the revs though is no comparison to my 4R's V8. The V8 pulls like a freight train from the bottom end, but if you get the revs up on the Honda, it pulls very well itself. To me, it feels stronger than the Tacoma V6, which I have driven as well, but that's probably just my inaccurate butt dyno.

I try to maintain a speed of 105KM/hr (65mph) on my trips. The RL is very happy at that speed. Our highways for this trip ranged from 90Km/hr to 120KM/hr (55 to 75mph). Passing was a breeze, as even at 105KM/hr, there is lots of depth to the engine/tranny to get up and overtake. This engine wanted to run higher and harder, for sure. It would have been very happy at 120KM/hr, but fuel consumption would have been too high for my liking.

Fuel consumption was excellent. I averaged around 13L/100km (18mpg). For towing over moutain passes, I'm happy. When we hit the flat parts of the trip, It was nothing to be down into the high 10's (~22mpg).

Brakes were solid and tracked well. Nothing pulled to one side or the other. They handled usual tasks just fine, and I opted to engine brake down the long hills, rather than ride the pedal.

I really dislike the stock Firestone tires. Postives: they resist hydroplaning very well. On the way out we hit some blinding rain, and even at highway speeds, they tracked nicely. They handle very well, and corner very well. Negatives: For overall comfort, they are incredibly noisy and are a very, very harsh ride. If you dont off-road like me, I'm sure a nice set of Michelin Defenders would make things ideal. I will be replacing them with a set of Cooper At3 4S when I can.

D4 worked well for engine braking. I didnt need it for acceleration/towing as the Grad Logic was so good. L worked very well for severe engine breaking when needed. I would prefer the new paddle shifting of the 2020 though. My 4Runner will downshift automatically to engine brake on certain inclines - it would be nice if the RL had this feature.

The dash engine temp gauge is a LIAR. I have a ScanGauge II hooked up to monitor my temps and mileage. Engine temp on the dash gauge stayed at a needle-width below the third mark from the bottom, the entire trip. However, my SG2 was showed the truth. Most of the trip the engine coolant stayed around 84-86C (184-187F). There was one long, hard climb where engine temp spiked to 104C (220F) on the SG2 (which was terrifying), but the dash needle didnt move! A 20 C swing in temp and the needle didnt move?! That is not good. I have never seen anything over 95C (200F) in my 4R, and that was once, during a severe climb in 42C weather (108F). Thankfully, temps fell immediately after the climb, but the fact the engine temp spiked that high, that quickly, and the dash temp needle didnt move is concerning.

Transmission temps. Well, as we all know, this is a "thing" for the 2G's. My tranny temps ranged from 164F to 184F for nearly the entire trip (ScanGauge II only measures in F for Transmission temp, no C), even during most long climbs. The climb I just mentioned where engine temp spiked, caused the tranny temp to soar up to 213F which freaked me out quite a bit as apparently 220F is where damage starts to occur. Correct me if I'm wrong. It took the tranny a while to cool back down, but it did start to drop after the climb was over, and was back down to the low 200's at an acceptable rate. This was a long, slow climb, as I was behind my buddy and his Tacoma which was pulling a 3000# RV trailer. It took a long time to get back down to the normal range though. The AWD's might have a stock tranny cooler, but my guess is that its not enough for the hard stuff. Fwiw, my 4R has both a tranny and oil cooler, and has never had a spiking issue like that - ever.

Adaptive Cruise Control is the bomb! Love it. I had it on almost all of the time, and that 3.5/6sp/Grade Logic combo was happy to do the dirty work along with the ACC.

Lane Keep Assist is a pain in the ass. I wish there was a way to turn it off and still have cruise control. Our roads here are twisty, and it was just too intrusive for my liking. It was nice for relatively straight stuff, but once I hit the twisties, I like to drive the truck myself, not have a nanny turn the steering wheel for me.

Front End Crash Mitigation gave a lot of false positives (6 or 7). As I just said, our mountain roads are twisty, and many times the FECM would register an oncoming vehicle around corners/banks when there was no way it was even close.

Climate control is excellent. "Auto" did its job very well. Having the separate controls is always nice. Cooled seats is more of a gimmick than anything really useful. I mean, it was okay, but I wouldnt be upset if it wasnt there.

Ergonomics are truly excellent. Cup holders are a little tiny, so you have to use skinny water bottles. My wife did say she was less comfortable than in the 4R. The passenger door handle intrudes into her space more than the 4R's. Apparently, for her, the seat isnt as comfy either. I think the drivers seat is incredibly comfy. Personal preference. Both of my kids loved the room, comfort, and higher view the rear seats offered. Under rear seat storage is very convenient to have. Center console holds a shocking amount of crap. Door storage for all doors is nowhere near as plentiful as in the 4R. The rear doors have no storage at all.

The longer rear-door checkers are a must, btw. So glad I installed them, and that the 2020's now come with them. The stock rear door swing would have made things much more uncomfortable.


Off-roading:

Like I suspected, the stock tires need to be replaced. We had to go down a 30km (~20mi) dirt road to get to our final destination. It had been raining there for weeks so the road was nothing but a minefield of potholes and mud. There was anywhere from hard packed dirt to 2" of greasy mud. These tires are clearly highway tires, and had just awful traction in the mud. Many times I slipped sideways. Thankfully, the iVTM-4 was a saving grace, and with careful driving the road wasnt any problem.

The independent suspension is quite good for roads like this. Nothing earth-shattering. I prefer the feel of my 4R off-road, but it also has 265/70R17's Cooper AT3 4S's on it. I'm eager to get taller sidewall AT tires on the RL to see how much that helps, as the taller tires will help mitigate bumps as well as offer better traction.

Groud clearance is a atrocious for a truck. Any truck. Just atrocious.

Lack of skid plates + low clearance = bad juju when going down even the most benign, unpaved road.

Better tires, skid plates are a requirement for my use, which will be bought within the calendar year. I think with the armor, I can live w/o the lift for a bit.

Putting the trailer/boat in/out of the water at the "boat launch" was a breeze. I say "boat launch", as its not a proper, smooth grade. Its just a slope shoveled into the lake shore with huge rocks and and an uneven approach. The AWD didnt even bat an eye, even with these tires. Pulled the boat and trailer out of the water like it wasnt even there. We'll see how it is on even more severe launches on my next trip.


Cargo:

Loaded, the rear suspension squat/camber of the rear tires is leaving me wondering how the hell anyone gets a 5000# trailer behind one of these while keeping the rear tires in normal camber. I have terrible negative camber, even while the truck is completely empty. For the trip, I only had about 400# worth of stuff in the back end, plus the tongue weight of the trailer, which isnt much, and the rears are leaning like the fronts on a race car.

If there were supplemental air bags or something like the Bilstein 5100's available for the RL, it wouldnt be an issue, but there isnt. This concerns me. With that said, its not like the nose was pointed at the sky. All-in-all, it carried its load with confidence and stability.

The trunk is both super-handy and super-inconvenient. I love it when there is nothing in the bed of the truck and can open the trunk without obstruction. Awful when there is, even something which is "easily" removed so you can gain access. For this trip, we put all of our dry food into it - 7 days worth - and had room to spare. This was nice to keep the critters out of our stuff, but a PITA when we had to get stuff out of it, b/c we had a lot of our random gak thrown into the bed. Maybe next trip I'll put other stuff in there, which I dont access often.

The dual-action tailgate is a game-changer - love it. So convenient, especially when you need to access the front of the bed, since I have a canopy. Our 1974 AMC Ambassador wagon had one when I was a kid. I didnt appreciate it at the time.


Infotainment system:

Garmin sucks. Plain and simple. Garmin's routing cant hold a candle to TomTom's. I say this as someone who has owned several dash-mount GPSs over the years, from both manufacturers, and I always come back to TomTom, even when they wreck their UI. Their "IQ Routing" is the best. The Garmin head unit tried taking us nearly 50km out of the way b/c it supposedly knew better. I had to start driving the better way, then cancel the route, and reload it, three times, until it picked up the route I was taking it down. Garmin is just not good.

Android Auto? Google Maps and Waze are not good for long road trips into remote locations. I mean, Waze is okay for in-town, day-to-day commutes. Google Maps, I thought would be okay, but you have to download extra map areas to your phone before hand, and once you get off of the beaten track, it gets lost.

At least the Garmin is good with providing information that is nice to have, like distance to destination, time left, and time of arrival.

I want to like Android Auto, but I dont. I'm an IT guy, and a hard-core Android phone user, but wow, AA is just not good. It has some okay features, but for the most part, the stock infotainment system is light years ahead in ease of use.


VCM:

As an aside, for those worried about VCM, I have been actively trying to get it come on. The only time I have managed to get it to come on regularly around town has been in ECON mode feathering the gas like a little, old lady, driving down a flat street. Anything other than that, its off. I suspect its a non-issue.


Final thoughts:

After looking for a truck for nearly two years, starting with the Tundra, moving to looking at the Tacoma, then to the Ridgeline, the RL makes so much sense for a guy like me.

My truck is my daily driver. I want to be comfortable driving to work, driving (and trying to park) downtown, and it has to be utilitarian for the things I do, including camping/fishing in remote locations. The fishing/camping thing is only for about 5 weeks out of 52 each year. So 90% of the truck's time is in town doing normal kinds of things. It would be stupid to buy a truck for the 10%.

So, after doing all of the tallying, buying a RL made the most sense for me and my family, and now that we have one road trip on it, I cannot overstate what a brilliant vehicle it is.

I knew going in that I would have to make it more off-road worthy for that 10% - tires, armor, lift. I dont rock crawl. I never have. I dont need to cross 3ft deep river beds with water up to my windshield. So, for a few thousand extra, I can outfit it for my needs and have a complete vehicle. There was no way I was going to make a Tundra more fuel efficient or smaller so it could fit in a parkade downtown. I wasnt going to make a Tacoma more ergonomic or easier to drive day to day, or have a bed as wide and flat as the RL.

The RL is a great truck. Very well-thought out by Honda.

Pic including the Taco is my buddy and his wife who we went with on this trip. ScanGauge pic is just to show it mounted, as I have only found one other picture showing a SG installed.
 

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Lane Keep Assist is a pain in the ass. I wish there was a way to turn it off and still have cruise control.
The LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) must be turned on manually after each restart. Setting the cruise control does not turn on LKAS. I think you're getting confused by seeing the green ACC and LKAS indicators when you push the MAIN button - those green indicators simply let you know those features are ready for use, not that they're in use. I also suspect you're actually complaining about RDM (Road Departure Mitigation) which can be disabled by pressing the RDM button on the lower left on the instrument panel (picture of a road with a vehicle veering off to the right). If you turn off RDM and don't press the LKAS button, the vehicle will not provide any steering inputs.

The dash engine temp gauge is a LIAR. I have a ScanGauge II hooked up to monitor my temps and mileage. Engine temp on the dash gauge stayed at a needle-width below the third mark from the bottom, the entire trip. However, my SG2 was showed the truth. Most of the trip the engine coolant stayed around 84-86C (184-187F). There was one long, hard climb where engine temp spiked to 104C (220F) on the SG2 (which was terrifying), but the dash needle didnt move! A 20 C swing in temp and the needle didnt move?!
As far as the temp gauge not matching your ScanGauge reading as expected, know that there are two engine coolant temperature sensors - one on the engine and one at the bottom of the radiator. I believe the temperature gauge indicates the reading of ECT 1. Perhaps your SG is reading ECT 2? Perhaps the previous owner installed a VCM defeat device that is creating a false reading of ECT 1?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) must be turned on manually after each restart. Setting the cruise control does not turn on LKAS. I think you're getting confused by seeing the green ACC and LKAS indicators when you push the MAIN button - those green indicators simply let you know those features are ready for use, not that they're in use. I also suspect you're actually complaining about RDM (Road Departure Mitigation) which can be disabled by pressing the RDM button on the lower left on the instrument panel (picture of a road with a vehicle veering off to the right). If you turn off RDM and don't press the LKAS button, the vehicle will not provide any steering inputs.
LKAS is on when you turn it on, I understand, but also the RDM is a PITA. I wasnt clear. RDM, yes, was bothersome, but thanks for the clarification. I would like to have ACC only available. That would be best.

As far as the temp gauge not matching your ScanGauge reading as expected, know that there are two engine coolant temperature sensors - one on the engine and one at the bottom of the radiator. I believe the temperature gauge indicates the reading of ECT 1. Perhaps your SG is reading ECT 2? Perhaps the previous owner installed a VCM defeat device that is creating a false reading of ECT 1?
It would make sense if the dash reads the engine and the SG2 reads the incoming radiator. That would explain the discrepancy perfectly. It was terrifying to see the SG2 read 104C.

What about the trans temp, @zroger73 ? Is hitting 213F a problem?
 

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Honda and just about every manufacturer "normalizes" their temperature gauges. This is to keep people from freaking out during the normal swings of coolant temps. Ignorance is bliss. . . Zroger may be correct about the scanguage reading a different sensor than the coolant temp gauge inside the vehicle. That said, you will never see the swings in temperature on the dash display that you do on your scan gauge. The dash needle will indicate overheating when the temp reaches a point that Honda has decided is actually overheating.
At 28k miles your stock Firestones are likely well into the second half of their lifespan. For many people here they wear rather quickly. Noise level and other driving dynamics will likely not be as good as when they are new.
With your intended use it sounds like a lift kit would be a wise move. Also try and avoid putting on tires that are significantly heavier than stock. KO2s, for instance, in the typcial oversize for the Ridge are nearly 20lbs heavier per corner and will kill much of what you like about the on road manners of your Ridge.
Thanks for posting your experiences!
 

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With your intended use it sounds like a lift kit would be a wise move. Also try and avoid putting on tires that are significantly heavier than stock. KO2s, for instance, in the typcial oversize for the Ridge are nearly 20lbs heavier per corner and will kill much of what you like about the on road manners of your Ridge.
Thanks for posting your experiences!
I actually intend to put on a set of Cooper AT3 4S, either in a 265/60R18, or if I can get enough money together for new rims as well, either 265/65R17 or 245/70R17. I have run the Cooper AT3's and the AT3 4S's on my 4Runner. I was literally the first person at my tire shop to ask for either. They are incredible AT tires for the money.

Either way, the Coopers are only about 8lbs heavier, iirc. I have done my time with the BFG KO's. While they look great, they are not a great tire in the rain. I found they are average on the dry, sometimes downright scary in the rain, and absolute monsters off-road, plus ridiculously heavy, and they still puncture, just like any other tire.
 

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A motionless dash needle for 60 degree F ECT increase........I’ve observed the exact same thing. Factory dash temp gauges are rigged on most vehicles.

Does anyone know Xgauge codes for ECT2......the sensor in the bottom (cold tank) of the radiator?
 

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............The dash engine temp gauge is a LIAR. I have a ScanGauge II hooked up to monitor my temps and mileage. Engine temp on the dash gauge stayed at a needle-width below the third mark from the bottom, the entire trip. However, my SG2 was showed the truth. Most of the trip the engine coolant stayed around 84-86C (184-187F). There was one long, hard climb where engine temp spiked to 104C (220F) on the SG2 (which was terrifying), but the dash needle didnt move! A 20 C swing in temp and the needle didnt move?! That is not good. I have never seen anything over 95C (200F) in my 4R, and that was once, during a severe climb in 42C weather (108F). Thankfully, temps fell immediately after the climb, but the fact the engine temp spiked that high, that quickly, and the dash temp needle didnt move is concerning.

Transmission temps. Well, as we all know, this is a "thing" for the 2G's. My tranny temps ranged from 164F to 184F for nearly the entire trip (ScanGauge II only measures in F for Transmission temp, no C), even during most long climbs. The climb I just mentioned where engine temp spiked, caused the tranny temp to soar up to 213F which freaked me out quite a bit as apparently 220F is where damage starts to occur. Correct me if I'm wrong. It took the tranny a while to cool back down, but it did start to drop after the climb was over, and was back down to the low 200's at an acceptable rate. This was a long, slow climb, as I was behind my buddy and his Tacoma which was pulling a 3000# RV trailer. It took a long time to get back down to the normal range though. The AWD's might have a stock tranny cooler, but my guess is that its not enough for the hard stuff. Fwiw, my 4R has both a tranny and oil cooler, and has never had a spiking issue like that - ever...................
What ambient temps were you seeing when observing those ECTs and TFTs?
 

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Honda and just about every manufacturer "normalizes" their temperature gauges. This is to keep people from freaking out during the normal swings of coolant temps. Ignorance is bliss. . .
I had a 1996 Cougar with an oil pressure gauge. I noticed that it would always go just above the middle and stay there when the engine was running regardless of engine speed. I then learned that this vehicle (and many others) had a binary oil pressure switch instead of a linear oil pressure transducer. The oil pressure "gauge" was designed to indicate a fixed position when there was any oil pressure and go to zero only if there was no oil pressure. :)
 

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Nothing of consequence. 15-19C (59-66F).
Wow, we've had many days now of triple digit ambient temps. Before installing a tranny cooler on our '17 FWD Rigi (bought 3/31/20), 200F TFT have been observed almost daily just driving around town, not towing, flat terrain. Been seeing 165F-170F after the install under same driving conditions.
 
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