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Hi,

I tried doing a search on the site, but came up with nothing. I currently own a 2003 Honda Element DX with the Realtime 4wd system. It has over 350k on it and still runs great, but I need something with more towing capacity and more interior space. Anyway, I have been looking at a certified preowned 2014 Ridgeline RT. My only concern is that I like to drive the Element onto the beach for nighttime surf fishing and its also great in the snow we get here in Southern CT. How does the VTM-4 system compare with the realtime 4wd in the Element? Is it at least as good? Perhaps its the same thing just with an updated name? Please help! Thanks.
 

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Former 4WD CR-V owner here.

The RT4WD uses a set of hydraulic pumps to apply pressure to a clutch pack when slippage is detected via a rotation difference between the prop-shaft from the front of the SUV vs. the rear wheels.

The RL's VTM-4 has a clutch pack that activates via electromagnets under two different situations - proactively, when taking off from a stop (so you get more traction at stoplights), and when wheel slippage is detected (uses the ABS sensors).

Both work well, but realize they're part-time systems. They're not intended for hard-core offroading.

The RL is an awesome snow monster. Just have good winter tires.

So far as driving on the beach, the best thing you can do is air-down the tires to increase the contact patch. Just drive normally. If you should get stuck, only then engage the RL's VTM-4 Lock switch. If you can't get unstuck pretty quickly after that, look for someone to tow you out. Leaving it engaged will wear out the clutch material.

Chip H.
 

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Good input from chiph. Only thing I'll add is: If you've let air out of the tires on the beach and you _still_ get stuck, you haven't let enough air out. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for the replies, you guys seem to know more about this than the two Honda salesmen I have spoken to. The first guy had no clue, thought they were really the same thing but even admitted he wasn't 100% sure. The second guy said they are about equal, and their differences really only had to do with vehicle size and weight. Neither explanation sat well with me.

One last question, we also found a 2012 Pilot, about the same mileage as the 2014 Ridgeline (37k) but its more upscale (my partner prefers creature comforts, I could take them or leave them), leather, moonroof, power seats, electronic climate control, etc... he noticed however that the tow rating on the Pilot is only 3,500 lbs. We are upgrading from the Element because we just bought a small camper whos GVWR is 3,000 lbs. It seems close on the Pilot, however, I thought that the Ridgeline and Pilot were exactly the same thing, except for the pick-up functionality of the Ridgeline vs. the extra seating in the Pilot. Why does the Pilot have a much lower tow rating when compared to the Ridgeline? I really thought that under the skin, they were the exact same vehicle. No?
 

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That's probably a 2WD (front wheel drive) Pilot, if it's only rated at 5000#???

In any case, the issue that drives the rating (3500 vs. 5000) is the inclusion of the tranny cooler, which comes on all RLs, but not all Pilots. Again, my loose recollection was that this cooler came only on the 4WD (AWD) Pilots, but that could be wrong.

Either way, you should be able to add this cooler to your Pilot if it doesn't already have it (which I don't believe it does if you're rated at 3500). You might want to find out how much it would cost you to add that feature (I'd want it if I were towing).

Hope this wasn't too confusing, the way I put it. :)
 

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The transmission cooler is definitely something you want, and was standard on all trim levels of the 1st gen Ridgeline (and almost certainly will be on the 2nd gen RL, but we have no direct knowledge of this yet).

Another difference is that the Ridgeline has a "frame" on it's unibody. There are folded steel channels underneath that the unibody is spot-welded to, and they provide more of a mechanical connection from the front of the truck to the tow hitch. The Pilot doesn't have this.

Additionally, the Ridgeline has a longer wheelbase (122" vs 106"), so it's more stable for towing a trailer.

Chip H.
 
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Technically, the VTM-4 system can transfer up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels. How it arrives at that 70% number, I do not know. Honda used to post that number on their site, but I'm not sure where it's listed now.

The VTM-4 4wd system in the RL (and Pilot) is really a 3wd system. As conventional 4wd trucks without a locker are really 2wd, the front wheels on the RL have an open diff, so only one wheel will really get power. However, VSA is also integrated into the system such that with detection of a spinning wheel, VSA brakes the spinning wheel sending power to the other side acting like a limited sllp diff.

That function does not work in the rear as the rear wheels are driven by independent clutches that are electrically activated at the same time... as a conventional locker would operate. However, it is possible for the clutches to slip above a certain (undefined) torque value. For most normal operations, this is not a problem. But in certain split-mu situations, it is possible the 4WD system cannot get you moving.

I demonstrated that issue here:
http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/471230-post257.html

Also, you may have to defeat the VSA system to prevent VSA from retarding the throttle. It will do this if it detects it can't control wheelspin by braking the spinning wheel which causes the vehicle to feel like it bogs down. By defeating the VSA system, you remove the ability of the VSA system to create the LSD effect.

Personally, I prefer to drive with VSA off when in deep snow, sand, or mud. If you air down for sand driving (~15 psi), the TPMS will illuminate preventing you from disabling VSA via the panel switch. In this case you have to pull the 20A VSA fuse in the secondary underhood fuse box to disable VSA and enjoy sand driving. This will also defeat the ABS system and you will have a panel full of warning lights until you reset everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That's probably a 2WD (front wheel drive) Pilot, if it's only rated at 5000#???
The one we are looking at is 4wd, not sure if it has a tranny cooler or not, my partner found it and he does not know if it has one.


Another difference is that the Ridgeline has a "frame" on it's unibody. There are folded steel channels underneath that the unibody is spot-welded to, and they provide more of a mechanical connection from the front of the truck to the tow hitch. The Pilot doesn't have this.

Additionally, the Ridgeline has a longer wheelbase (122" vs 106"), so it's more stable for towing a trailer.
Ah, we did not realize the Ridgeline had additional structural enhancements, the increased towing capacity makes a lot of sense now, as does the wheelbase. We really thought that underneath it all, the Pilot and Ridgeline were the same vehicle, guess not.

Technically, the VTM-4 system can transfer up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels. How it arrives at that 70% number, I do not know. Honda used to post that number on their site, but I'm not sure where it's listed now.

The VTM-4 4wd system in the RL (and Pilot) is really a 3wd system. As conventional 4wd trucks without a locker are really 2wd, the front wheels on the RL have an open diff, so only one wheel will really get power. However, VSA is also integrated into the system such that with detection of a spinning wheel, VSA brakes the spinning wheel sending power to the other side acting like a limited sllp diff.

That function does not work in the rear as the rear wheels are driven by independent clutches that are electrically activated at the same time... as a conventional locker would operate. However, it is possible for the clutches to slip above a certain (undefined) torque value. For most normal operations, this is not a problem. But in certain split-mu situations, it is possible the 4WD system cannot get you moving.

I demonstrated that issue here:
http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/471230-post257.html

Also, you may have to defeat the VSA system to prevent VSA from retarding the throttle. It will do this if it detects it can't control wheelspin by braking the spinning wheel which causes the vehicle to feel like it bogs down. By defeating the VSA system, you remove the ability of the VSA system to create the LSD effect.

Personally, I prefer to drive with VSA off when in deep snow, sand, or mud. If you air down for sand driving (~15 psi), the TPMS will illuminate preventing you from disabling VSA via the panel switch. In this case you have to pull the 20A VSA fuse in the secondary underhood fuse box to disable VSA and enjoy sand driving. This will also defeat the ABS system and you will have a panel full of warning lights until you reset everything.
Very helpful, had no idea about the VSA, our 2003 Element DX does not have VSA, heck, it doesn't even have an automatic transmission!
 

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We really thought that underneath it all, the Pilot and Ridgeline were the same vehicle, guess not.
The 1st gen Ridgeline and the older Acura MDX share a lot more parts & design than the Ridgeline and the older Pilot.

But for the 2nd gen Ridgeline, it and the Pilot share a significant number of parts, and it would be fair to say they're essentially the same (from the driver's door forward).

I miss the manual transmission I had in my CR-V. The automatic in the new CR-V just isn't a good fit for the engine, and it's not nearly as fun to drive. {sigh} It's a mommy-mover now. I wish they'd put a manual in the HR-V. That's a lot lighter and has the potential for being much peppier.

Chip H.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The 1st gen Ridgeline and the older Acura MDX share a lot more parts & design than the Ridgeline and the older Pilot.

But for the 2nd gen Ridgeline, it and the Pilot share a significant number of parts, and it would be fair to say they're essentially the same (from the driver's door forward).

I miss the manual transmission I had in my CR-V. The automatic in the new CR-V just isn't a good fit for the engine, and it's not nearly as fun to drive. {sigh} It's a mommy-mover now. I wish they'd put a manual in the HR-V. That's a lot lighter and has the potential for being much peppier.

Chip H.
We both love manuals as well. We have a 2011 Corolla CE with a manual, so we can still get our fix in when needed. But yea, if the Ridgeline was available with a manual, we would probably go for it. Almost considered a Tacoma with a manual, but we love the space in the Ridgeline over the manual in the Tacoma.
 

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Hi,

If the 2012 Pilot has 4WD, it already has the transmission cooler from the factory and the tow rating is 4500 pounds.( Pull the cover off the center of rear bumper to access the tow hitch, there will be a sticker that provides the tow rating)

I also own a 2006 and 2011 Honda Pilot along we the Ridgeline. The VTM-4 is the way to go. The Real-time 4WD system is good. The VTM-4 is just an overall better system. If you thought your CRV was good in the snow,sand and mud, wait until you drive with VTM-4!

Good Luck
 

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Technically, the VTM-4 system can transfer up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels. How it arrives at that 70% number, I do not know.
If the torque capacity of the clutches is 700 lb.-ft. and the maximum torque being produced is 1,000 lb.-ft., then the VTM-4 system is said to be capable of transmitting up to 70% of available torque to the rear wheels (above which it begins to slip, generate heat, wear the clutch material, and contaminate the fluid as it was designed to do instead of break shafts and gears).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi,

If the 2012 Pilot has 4WD, it already has the transmission cooler from the factory and the tow rating is 4500 pounds.( Pull the cover off the center of rear bumper to access the tow hitch, there will be a sticker that provides the tow rating)

I also own a 2006 and 2011 Honda Pilot along we the Ridgeline. The VTM-4 is the way to go. The Real-time 4WD system is good. The VTM-4 is just an overall better system. If you thought your CRV was good in the snow,sand and mud, wait until you drive with VTM-4!

Good Luck
Good to know about the VTM-4 and the towing capacity. The salesman told Scott (my partner) that the max towing was 3500. With the extra 1000lbs, we will have plenty of towing either way. That is very helpful to know. You guys know way more than the 2 Honda salesmen we have talked with. So glad we found this board!

Jim
 

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My $.03...covering Snow/Ice and road driving in CT:

RL has handled everything I've driven through like a champ. I've driven through a lot of snow here, since the Mrs. is an RN, and *has* to get to work (she refuses to drive in snow/ice, even with her CR/V w/ AWD).

Trailering: We have little travel trailer (full height), only 14' long, ~2500lbs. Very light, but a huge sail. Very easy to trailer w/ the RL. VT, NH, out to the Cape...no issues, and very happy.
 

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My 2006 Pilot brochure lists the 2wd Pilot towing capacity at 3500 lbs and the 4wd Pilot at 4500 lbs. There's also a note that says towing requires the installation of power steering and transmission fluid coolers (standard on the RL).
 

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You guys know way more than the 2 Honda salesmen we have talked with.
Regarding gen 1 Ridgelines, the collective knowledge of the forum members here is likely much greater than the collective knowledge of all Honda dealership employees in North America.
 
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