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.