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Hi folks - new member here. I'm seriously considering a '23 RTL now that I see dealers moving off MSRP to $40k and less here around Chicago. Since I'm new to this vehicle I'm seeing the endless commentary on off-road capability. When I compare the Chevy it has a listed GC of 8.2" or .3" more than the RL. I drove a 4WD Colorado for several years for a public agency that took me off-road on a regular basis. Open fields, dirt trails, deep snow and crazy slopes all in 4HI. Obviously not Moab, but I never recall ever being concerned with GC or getting stuck. I understand 4WD vs. AWD but am I missing something here? I mean does .3" difference really matter? I'd like to at least hit the better seasonal roads up north if possible.
Thanks
The RL is a great vehicle, hobbled for me by its Camry-level ground clearance. Couldn't they have given us the "capability" of a Subaru Forester? (2" more clearance)

And the RL is actually lower than they claim (esp after a few miles) plus that silly plastic air dam lip that catches (but probably gives 0.000001 better MPG in the lab). I can't even get my floor jack under the front lip (6"?)

Great AWD - wasted... The Colorado is much simpler to mod for extra clearance, because it has trim levels with taller tires. I hope we all understand that for the most part, ground clearance comes from taller tires? Skid plates? They reduce your ground clearance. I've done tons of off-roading, and IMO the only need for skid plates is with bad drivers or the wrong vehicle (or serious rock-crawling, and even then build a rig for that). The CO is nowhere near as sophisticated, or comfortable as the RL though. Do you give up 90% for 10%? Depends on your needs. I see plenty of guys driving full-size pickups with ungodly noisy mud tires. I assume they never go very far because that drone would drive you nuts on the highway - but they either only care about the look, or have a very long and very muddy driveway

All Honda has to do is make space for taller tires. Ideally, they would offer it as a trim and then the speedo could be calibrated, but just space would be a start. I read about people jacking the RL up and ruining handling, then trying to squeeze bigger rubber in there, which rubs... Just go buy the truck you should have in the first place

RL is good in snow up to about 8" (I'm in Maine, have driven in snow for decades). It's great on gravel roads. Off-road, it's a "mistake"
 

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FYI…i started out off-roading with a 1997 Honda CR-V many moons ago. Yeah, i took it to many places…and suffered some bodily harm…but fun! So, i am not foreign to using a Honda off-road. It is just finding the proper tool for the job.
My guess is the CR-V is better off-road (than a RL) if you pick the right model year. Some of their "AWD" versions were almost useless. But short breakover and rear overhang
 

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Put a 1.5" lift and some 265s on it...simple enough.
That might get you another inch (halfway to Forester GC ) and you have ruined the handling and still have the issue of exposed parts. Of course, you can also add a skid plate and lose that inch you paid so much to get...

I wonder if people who buy monster mudder trucks have forum conversations on "How to make the on-road ride more like a Ridgeline"? :)
 

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Yeah, i agree with everything you said except skids only for bad driver…that’s not true at all. Off-roading is not on a known course nor under ideal conditions. Spotters help but sometimes, sh!t happens. So, skids are there to provide protection for the unknown or the unexpected. The same for rock sliders. And sometimes, knowing that you have these protections in place allows you to go a littler farther.

As for skids decreasing clearance…sure, it is is an afterthought. Properly designed vehicles (like my LC), the skids are at frame height. All the vital components are tucked nicely ABOVE the lower frame…thus, the skids are protective yet not intrusive below frame height.
It depends. Define off-roading. Playing in the rocks? Then sure. I have driven for months and thousands of miles "off-road" - right across southern Africa a few times. In both Land Rovers (300tdi Defenders) and Land Cruisers (LC76). None of which had any extra skid plates (OK - the Defender had a front diff cover), because they were made for rough use, have decent ground clearance and also because the drivers had mechanical sympathy. We have done famous (van Zyl's) passes (towing bush trailers) in "stock" Defenders with no extra underbody protection. Never broke anything

I had rock sliders on my Discovery 2 - being sort of pretty, I did want to protect the sills. But it also had good clearance (and air suspension) so nothing else was needed.

I guess my point is, you don't need skid plates on an appropriate vehicle. If the driver is a foot-to-the-floor type they'd be a good idea. But if you are thinking that adding them makes a vehicle better for off-road use? Better to buy the right vehicle in the first place IMO
 

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I think we mostly agree. The proper 4X4s protect vulnerable parts by design. My Defender has only a thin sheet steel protection (standard) for the fuel tank - nothing else that could be called such. I added the front diff cover since they are thin. Have I ever knocked it? I don't think so. I have bent the fold-down steps a few times, though. In the Defender and LC, you (hopefully) learn where the diffs are in relation to the wheels and avoid knocking them. But I can lie underneath both of them on my back and touch the Xfer case and gearbox - no skid plates. And drivers matter - any Hilux driven by a "company driver" will have ten times the failures of an owner-operated one, in my experience. Or farmers. Farmers are tough on vehicles. They have schedules. I don't :)

I've certainly done some dumb moves driving in the bush, but I've never broken anything as a result. Rocks and trees don't jump out. Get out and walk the trail if you have to - but of course many drivers just put the foot down and "bang"
 

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And don’t forget…Europeans off-road differently than USA. Euros / Aussies go on safari and sight-seeing. USA off-roads on rocks / ledges / boulders.

So, that is why there is such a HUGE market for skid plates for Defenders and other old dinosaurs because what you can escape with in Australia (without protection) will be a major weakness here in USA.

So yeah, i disagree with you that ONLY bad drivers need skids. That is pretty nonsense with the type of off-roading folks here do. But yeah, if you’re talking about Europeans/Australia, then yeah you are maybe right…but even over there, newer vehicles have skids all-around.
I've never driven off-road in Oz (I have driven there though) but would love to. Might happen

Off-road in Europe (I lived in the UK for 20 years) is mostly play like the USA. Not too many "need" an off-road 4X4. I do find the current "overlanding" trend in the US to be amusing - brand-new Volvo XC-90s with a roof tent :) We call that "car camping". As mentioned, I've been driving really off-road in Africa for a while. I drove a LR Series 2 across the Kalahari in 1976 - that's how long. It had a shower out back (never used) but no skid plates. I've driven much of southern Africa since, and while there are great roads in places, there are lots of places with nothing more than tracks or a riverbed. That type of use is not weekend play like the Rubicon. I do appreciate extreme rock-crawling, but look at the rigs they create. Incredible. But also very specialized. Trying to off-road in a "nice" vehicle is nuts IMO

So I try and wrap my head around the "need" for off-road ability and extras here in the US. I live in Maine (much of the year). It snows. Lots sometimes. My RL has great AWD and crappy ground clearance. 12" of snow and my wheels don't touch the ground any more. That sucks, and I wish it was better. But I am not heading down rutted, rocky logging roads usually. If I had a job that required that, I would buy an "appropriate" vehicle - probably a TRD Pro Taco with +11" from the factory
 
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