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Ridgeline Looks - Success or Failure

19428 Views 92 Replies 58 Participants Last post by  casique
My Opinion - Long Post

Soft. Girly. Bland. Round. Blah. These are just some of the words I have read in this forum over the past few days. Are they true? Maybe, but everyone has a right to their opinions and the famous quote "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" has never been more true than with the introduction of the Gen 2 Ridgeline right? Wrong, and here's why:

From when the first generation of Ridgeline was introduced to the day the last one was sold, the looks were NOT described using the adjectives shown above. It was either A) Nice looking or B) It's ugly. There was very little middle ground with the Gen 1 Ridgeline looks. Now some people who thought it was ugly ended up buying one because of the clever features and utility and "Honda." If the Gen 1 Ridgeline was anything it was polarizing in the looks department. We can all say what we want but we all know that if you don't like the looks of a vehicle you won't enjoy owning the vehicle. Personally I pride myself on owning practical, well made vehicles but even I want the thing to look decent!

Now, many (most) of the previous and current Gen1 owners blame the lack of sales of the Gen 1 squarely on the shoulders of Honda marketing and advertising. I don't know how many times I have heard "Honda should have had more commercials" or "Honda should have more internet ads." True, to a point. What you guys are forgetting is the LOOKS of the Gen 1 Ridgeline. Like it or hate it... there is no in-between. We have forgotten this in the past 10 years. In my opinion the Gen 1 low sales numbers were low mainly because of the body design and the "look" of the vehicle. How many times have you heard or read about that "sail" or the "high bed" or all the other descriptive words people say? I heard "It's ugly" more times than I could count. Sure, when they rode in it they loved it. When they got out they hated it. Many vehicles have been wildly successful with minimal advertising and marketing. My 4Runner is a prime example. They have run a few commercials over the past six years (four I think) and they sold 100K units last year. Word of mouth is much more valuable than advertising and vehicle looks trumps them all.

With that said I have read several comments in the past few days lamenting the fact that the Gen 2 does not look like the Gen 1! Really? You don't want Honda to sell many of the Gen 2 Ridgelines?

Honda designs are typically bland. The Gen 1 Ridgeline was bold and you see what happened. Tacoma's got redesigned last year and you have to look hard to see what they changed. Why screw with a good thing? The CR-V and the Pilot are two of the best selling vehicles in their class. If looks are so important (and they are) why NOT make a truck with the same basic look as their successful siblings! Your argument is going to be "In the truck market, things have to be manly and tough." I call BS on that. There is nothing tough or manly about the Chevy Colorado. Heck, what is a tough or manly look anyhow? Put muscles and a mustache on it? Make it tall and rugged with a few scars?

The new Ridgeline is fairly bland, true, but apparently America wants bland. Look at the top sellers in each class. Bland is king. Even the F series truck (which hasn't changed significantly in years) is bland, yet they sell a bunch of them. For all those that feel miffed because they think the past and current Ridgeline owners aren't getting what THEY want? Think for a minute: How many are there? Enough to make the Gen 2 successful? I think not. Also you are getting most everything you had (pass through excepting) in hopefully a broader appeal package. If I were Honda I wouldn't listen to me when it came to the looks department... I thought the Gen 1 looked nice lol. Yeah, me and not very many others.

Bottom line is this: The Gen 2 Ridgeline is basically a Pilot with a bed. Sure, it has some clever features and a few different styling ques but in essence it is exactly that: Bland, not over the top, no wild colors, in other words, comfortable. So some of you can criticize the look as bland or girly or even "meh." The truth is the "bold" experiment of the Gen 1 didn't work so well. The proof on how successful the Gen 2 Ridgeline will be is in the sales numbers. I think they will succeed precisely for the reason some of you think they will fail... looks.
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I think there are a few here that have RL's that perhaps were thinking AND hoping the direction Honda would go is the beefier more truck like look which includes more competition level utility features like towing and offload but in reality this was never their game plan at all. Its not the market they choose to try. I think the gen 1 was more of that truck actually but the problem there was the experimental looks were way over the top for so many and it never was accepted, yet the truck at the time period 10 years ago was really advanced for what it could do. It was better and closer to rival full-size ability at the time. Remember that?

Forward 10 years, if they take that same equation and vision their specs would be more what midsize trucks are able to do now not 10 years ago. In that way of thinking the entire truck has not evolved at all in fact its lost ground. Not everywhere still a better ride more reliable etc. and I believe that is what erks many truck buyers and a few around here as well including myself, but I understand their vision now, I don't agree but thats what it is.

NOW Honda as I said did not take that way of thinking to the public they took the approach to limit its ability to where it was, fix the look to make it appear its more traditional, as well make it modern and safer etc, to attract a different kind buyer. This way they don't have to spend much on a complete different vehicle that is a bit uncomfortable for them. New engine(s) or suspension, towing, chassis and frame development to handle more towing capacity as well off-road parts that would be so different for them. Its high risk. This way they can make it a Pilot that can do more with the bed. Can share parts and manufacturing from the same bin as the Pilot. Many truck buyers don't want that at all, but there is a crowd that will its called a niche market. This time around it could be bigger. Jury is out on that one we will see.

I think most Honda RL buyers really don't care for more towing or lifts kits tires off road stuff. Heck most don't even tow with it at all. Mall hopper whatever its really never used much as truck anyway for most who own it just like the crowd who owns full size and never use it.
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Understandably, some (particularly Gen1 owners) will be turned off, but I don't think a car-like interior is the death knell for the Ridgeline.

The Frontier has a car-like interior and it has sold relatively well compared to the Ridgeline. And its exterior is generally conservative too. I can see the new Ridgeline taking away market share from the Frontier. (In fact, on the Frontier forum, there are a lot of positive comments about the new Ridgeline.)

hiPSI, great post.
"Death knell" probably not. I do feel that the interior in particular will hurt sales to the truckies. I use my GenI for family and construction. I am having a hard time visualizing my drywall dust covered self sitting in that front interior with some long boards lying on top of the dash, though the rear window and anchored down on the tailgate. It simply screams car / minivan / soft SUV.

The Pilots' interior on the GenII Ridge is a cost cutting move. Same thing with the hard body parts up front. Regardless, they clearly had to spend some $ to make the Pilot a truck. From the rear doors back it appears that in both looks and function they have done a killer job. Why not just go the extra bit and give the Ridge a bit more truck in the front half? Yes it would have added to the cost. But I think it would have reaped benfits in overall sales . . I can't see that it would hurt sales much or if at all to those coming from cars, minivans, and SUV's. Looking more "truck" would definitely help with the truckies and there are a lot of them.

I think that Honda (perhaps smartly so) was risk adverse with the GenII, not wanting to spend much for what might be a small sales item. Its a self fufilling prophecy if you ask me. It also might be that Honda simply doesn't get "truck."
Yes it's a different vision this time around. The last one was look at us we have a midsize truck that is VERY much truck yes it looks different BUT it can do almost everything most a full size can do but better. Has a better ride as well has more storage!! Innovative and competitive... But ugly. No marketing = failure.

This time it's not about rivalling a truck crowd that can be as strong as some full size. Heck it's barely close to midsize specs (in some areas only)

Now they have set a limit to where it was before and not bothered to go any further with it. Think about the development cost, they said a big NO WAY to that and have made it what many truck buyers accused it of as being in the first place a minivan or SUV truck. All the other nasty things as well. The whole RL was a great story and truck! Its kind of sad that it gets blasted I feel bad for it but not Honds they don't really listen to well to the market.
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The thread title does indicate success or failure which can be understood as positive and negative. Here are some positives below. For anyone to dismiss it and suggest they just go buy something else is a bit over the top, and move on like they are not welcome here just because its not what some want to hear, is not good.

Perhaps we should all just ignore it and move on just like the overpriced grocery item guy at the checkout. Its only an opinion and in most cases guys are just being honest and that honesty is sometimes the actual truth. Maybe the truth can hurt I don't know why, but it seems to be perhaps the case.

Lets move on and enjoy even it its positive and negative. I would be the first to congratulate any of you fellows on your new 2017 gen 2 RL! If it works for you get the deal done and start posting data!

Success which means positive:

1) cleaned up the back end lines nicely looks simple but clean and elegant no confusion at all which means it will be neutral and accepted more widely.

I like the definition line between the cab even though it seems to be getting some negitve attention.

2) Length bed wise is prefect for a midsize for their targeted audience. Workemen may want more (who knows) I don't think they target that audience though. imo
3) Interior size good doesn't change, storage useful like before.

4) Overall look in Honda's target audience will probably find it appealing not polarizing. Could lead to some new outside sells.

5) The looks will also appeal to people who don't want lifts don't care for more heavy offroad ( no not rock crawling)

6) Empty nesters will love it, people who are done with big trucks and custom cute built trucks from the factory.

7 If I hadn't grown out of first RL, or had Honda made it more heavy duty in its technical ability I would be interested even with the looks. (maybe/ maybe not ) Cost is another issue (negative)

Failure: Forget it, no need to get attacked here over it. Smile and enjoy the positives.
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