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After 300+ miles on our first day, we set up at River View RV Park on the Red River in Oklahoma. Towed at a steady 60 mph pulling our rig that weighs (per CAT scales) 4520# up I-45 and then US 69/75. MPG = 11.0 per the truck's system. Solid as a rock. Only use a sway bar - no weight distributing hitch per Honda's admonition. My towing experiences with this 2011 RTL absolutely amaze my 1/2 truck friends.
 

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Nice write Up. A few questions...

Have you made any specific changes, brakes, spending a lot of time balancing the trailer load vs. keeping the rear of the RL Unloaded. A neighbor had an RL, and everytime it came by the house it always looked like it was "Draggin @$$"

Having not towed anything near that large, just curious how 'level' it looks in tha distance shot.

EDIT: Just zoomed in on the iPad, was looking from the iPhone., realized you have jack stands down. Got any as your about to head down the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nice write Up. A few questions...

Have you made any specific changes, brakes, spending a lot of time balancing the trailer load vs. keeping the rear of the RL Unloaded. A neighbor had an RL, and everytime it came by the house it always looked like it was "Draggin @$$"

Having not towed anything near that large, just curious how 'level' it looks in tha distance shot.

EDIT: Just zoomed in on the iPad, was looking from the iPhone., realized you have jack stands down. Got any as your about to head down the road.
Ha! No attempt at subterfuge on how the rig looks when hitched. The key thought I had once we arrived at this stop was the better than expected mileage, but I will post a pic once we are hooked up to let you see how the system works.

As to mods? None mechanically to the vehicle - other than adding a Tekonsha Primus electronic brake controller to manage the RV's brakes. That, of course, is absolutely necessary when towing such a load. (We regularly tow a 20' ski/fish boat that weighs approximately 3800# when loaded and "wet," and the trailer's surge brakes are fine for that.)

Also, I do use a sway bar but do not use a weight distributing hitch.

We always go to a CAT scale to certify our weights for truck, trailer and tongue before a trip. So the other day we loaded up with the two of us and our dog and weighed - and saw that our tongue weight was right at the 600# limit (all other weights were within spec). I was not comfortable with that, so we reviewed what we had packed and removed some really unnecessary items from the trailer's pass through storage. Further, we moved a couple of crates from the pass through to the inside of the RV just above the tandem axles. Result: weights conformed well within spec and the rig pulled like a dream.

But, and this is a big "but," I've towed for many years, and you always want to plan for the unexpected as much as possible and want to have as much of a margin as possible for safety's sake. There are lots of idiots out there who drive with absolutely no understanding of the physics of towing, and they have no respect for your lack of maneuverability, etc. So back to the Gen 2 . . . I'm very keen to hear from our new Gen 2 owners regarding their experiences in towing similar loads. I know, I know I could go get one of any number of full size trucks. But I can't garage them; they don't have an in bed trunk, etc., etc., etc.
I'll post a pic before we head further northward toward the Ozarks.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Nice write Up. A few questions...

Have you made any specific changes, brakes, spending a lot of time balancing the trailer load vs. keeping the rear of the RL Unloaded. A neighbor had an RL, and everytime it came by the house it always looked like it was "Draggin @$$"

Having not towed anything near that large, just curious how 'level' it looks in tha distance shot.

EDIT: Just zoomed in on the iPad, was looking from the iPhone., realized you have jack stands down. Got any as your about to head down the road.
OK. All hitched up and ready to hit the road. Pic as requested.
 

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Looks Good (all be it upside down) ;)

I'd guess your only low in the rear maybe an 1" and high in the front about a 1/2", compaired to where the Ridgeline normally sits with out the weight. Which is really great.

Safe Travels...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Looks Good (all be it upside down) ;)

I'd guess your only low in the rear maybe an 1" and high in the front about a 1/2", compaired to where the Ridgeline normally sits with out the weight. Which is really great.

Safe Travels...
Funny internet stuff, I guess. Wanted to post this pic per request just before we pulled out, and it was already hotter than blazes. Snapped it, uploaded . . . then the RV park's wireless went down . . . Logged in again, uploaded again - then saw the resultant upside down pic. Figured you might be able to live with it as is.

Your perspective re. vehicle posture is probably right, though I've never actually measured the changes per front/rear. Someone remind me of the exact spec, but doesn't the front end of the Gen 1 weigh 750+ lbs more than the rear? I'm not an automotive engineer, so I do not know what the usual weight distribution is front to rear in a typical pickup truck. But my fuzzy memory seems to recall that Flynt's team designed this thing as such in order to be able to tow successfully right up to the truck's design limits. Other thoughts, anyone?
 

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I don't know the Ridge's weight distribution off-hand, but it's superior to most pickups.

Most pickups are very front heavy - upwards of 70%+, to allow for balance when loading the bed/trailering. I think the Ridge is 65/45, much like a rear-wheel-drive car. The tow limit in the Ridge is surprisingly high given that distribution - part of that may be from suspension design + the AWD/Traction/Sway control that's built in. It certainly transfers weight to the front very well when braking with a heavy trailer.
 

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The next stop on our journey found us at Devil's Den State Park in NW Arkansas. This park is half way between Ft. Smith and Fayetteville in the southern Ozark Mountains. The terrain has been increasingly hilly through eastern Oklahoma then challenging as we turned northward on I-49 outside of Ft. Smith. Despite some long, steep grades our RTL pulled our travel trailer without ever feeling it was beyond its capability. In cruise control set for 60mph, it did shift down to 3rd gear on a couple of exceptionally long and steep grades with RPMs just under 4000. But the truck settled back down soon to 4th and then 5th once the grade was topped.

One key point I might make here is that the temperature guage never wavered from its normal operating position - "normal" as in when I am not towing anything. I was surprised at that since outside temps were 95 degrees (as they have been all along this trip). Also, our cumulative MPG once arriving at Devil's Den was 10.6 - another positive.

A Park Ranger stopped by this morning after we had hitched up before pulling out, and he was full of questions about how our Ridgeline performed, how we liked it, etc. I think he was "sold" after we finished our visit.

Our most challenging part of the trip so far has been the drive to Eureka Springs - especially on State Highways 45 & 23. These are two lane highways with only a grass shoulder and with lots of curves and grades with advisories to keep speeds down to 30-35mph. One particular section had three warning signs advising of a very steep, winding downhill grade. We are used to loading our trailer properly, but if there was ever an opportunity for sway to occur, this was it. So while pulling this load in this environment, there wasn't a hint of instability anywhere along the way. Plus, it's a heck of a fun drive! Hills were steep, so our mileage from Fayetteville to Eureka Springs dropped to 9.5 mpg.

I'm reading some great reports about the Gen 2's towing capability over in the other forum thread, but for those of us who ever had any doubts about the Gen 1's ability to tow successfully in the absolute upper range of its published limits . . . my response is, doubt no more.
 

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A couple years ago I towed a box trailer that was *over* the max capacity of the Ridge, from the east coast to Denver - 1600 miles. From Virginia, through the Appalachians/West Virginia, then across Missouri and Kansas. (Yea, not smart - my only defense is I kept speeds down, drove off-peak hours, and was insanely careful/conservative).

Ridge was a 2006 with about 165,000 on her.

It was tough/slow going in West Va, and even when the trailer brakes failed (although they'd just been rebuilt), the Ridge was still able to stop/control it.

Avg 9-12 mpg (got worse the farther west due to elevation, though the mountains of West VA killed the mileage too).

It was slow going up many hills, and frankly I tried to be real gentle on the transmission.

Temp never wavered, and I'm not surprised - the cooling system was designed for towing. Before the trip I looked into adding a trans cooler, but decided Honda had it covered. If the temps had gone up at all (or a light had come on) I would've stopped and installed a trans cooler.

The Ridge isn't the best towing vehicle - it lacks power. BUT...for being what it is, it does really well. Up to about 2000lb trailer it's fine - you really start to notice it after that, or if the trailer has a big flat front. But what other truck in it's class has a 5k tow rating?
 

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It would be very interesting to see what the real engine temperature is on the trucks that are towing - the gauge inside may not be telling the real truth, because on some cars and trucks nowadays they try to hide the temperature swings from the user (apparently the needle moving as the thermostat opens and shuts, results in customers thinking something is wrong). I would expect noticeable temp variation in a small V6 towing a heavy load.

As an example, I have a Dodge dually diesel with "supercooling" very heavy duty radiator, and in summer temperature even pulling a fairly light load the thermostat will cause noticeable swings in the dial. When I am pulling something really heavy and the engine and turbo are blazing hot, the needle will still be in the acceptable range but noticeably hotter than typical operation. That is similar to the kind of towing behavior I have seen in many different trucks dating back several decades, in the days when the gauges had needle position that was always proportional to engine temp.

I have seen that some folks have scan tools that plug into the vehicle bus that let them get digital temp readouts on some cars, it would be interesting to see what a tool like that would report on a Ridgeline.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I had been feeling pretty good about our temp guage on this trip . . . until I read a post by Speedlever who noted that the Gen 1 temp guage was either buffered or normalized to avoid the visible fluctuations that might usually be seen. I was unaware of that. He recommended Torque Pro as a solution that speaks to your observation on a digital readout. We're on the road so I can't really do anything right now. But around the July 4 celebration we will be headed down through SW Oklahoma where temperatures are forecast to be at or near 100. May just need to back speeds off to 55'ish or so instead of the 60mph we've been holding. I have regularly checked the oil level while towing this weight and no evidence of oil loss. But this temp deal now concerns me a bit. Suggestions are welcomed.
 

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Train,

First, and I'm Serious, your doing what the RL is intended for. If you break it this early, the Temp Gauge issue needs to be addressed by HONDA, you don't know what they are hiding. Your under the full warranty and well within the limits of and the capabilities of your NEW G2 RL. It's a great and encouraging test for all G2 owners and future owners.

Now if you're route is planned, you could order something and have it delivered Amazon (Amazon Prime even better) to a stop along your route. And you have an Android Phone the Torque app and an OBDII Bluetooth reader will provide you more info than you can possibly process, iPhone Users choices on Bluetooth OBDII adapters are more limited and more expensive, but out there.

When you have time check out these two threads...

http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/9-mobile-electronics/128609-obdii-devices.html

http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/5-interior/132177-torque-your-kindle.html

There are more but these are recent and have good info...
 

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Train,

First, and I'm Serious, your doing what the RL is intended for. If you break it this early, the Temp Gauge issue needs to be addressed by HONDA, you don't know what they are hiding. Your under the full warranty and well within the limits of and the capabilities of your NEW G2 RL. It's a great and encouraging test for all G2 owners and future owners.

Now if you're route is planned, you could order something and have it delivered Amazon (Amazon Prime even better) to a stop along your route. And you have an Android Phone the Torque app and an OBDII Bluetooth reader will provide you more info than you can possibly process, iPhone Users choices on Bluetooth OBDII adapters are more limited and more expensive, but out there.

When you have time check out these two threads...

http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/9-mobile-electronics/128609-obdii-devices.html

http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/5-interior/132177-torque-your-kindle.html

There are more but these are recent and have good info...
Thanks very much for the links. I'll add those to my research and see where this leads. And I WISH our RTL was still under warranty, but 111,000+ miles on our Gen 1 2011 Ridgeline probably puts us outside of the warranty "envelope!" (Remember the inadvertent upside down pic of our Ridge from a few days ago?) :)

But honestly, this almost 1500 mile trip in our Gen 1 was planned as a genuine litmus test for our truck's ability to successfully tow a travel trailer weighing over 4500 lbs. So far, I've been very encouraged in the Ridge's performance. We will work our way out of the Ozarks tomorrow, and I already know that US 62 westbound presents sharp curves and steep inclines both up and down (we drove part of it today without the trailer while simply sightseeing). So this next leg of our journey will present the most challenge for the truck being able to be a stable platform for towing. The truck has already successfully negotiated long, steep grades coming up through eastern Oklahoma and then into western Arkansas as I've noted earlier.

But back to the temp situation, I think I will feel better about knowing more precisely how the engine and transmission are doing - especially as next week we will be pulling right into 100 degree temperatures. So I will check out some OBD options.

I have appreciated the travelogue posted by kevmelbel in his new Gen 2 while towing a slightly larger load than us. We're probably at least a year away from getting into a Gen 2, and his reports are encouraging for us staying in the Ridgeline family.
 

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Interesting thoughts, Uncle Festus.

I had intended to install a trans temp gauge (even bought one), then got lazy and said to myself "Self, screw it - there's a temp gauge built in, and sensors built in, and OBDII will complain up a storm if anything goes wrong. Plus, you got yer fancy OBDII reader than can read every single system on the Ridge"...and being a lazy SOB, Self agreed.

Never once on the trip (with an over-capacity load) did ANY light come on, except for the tire light for that one stinkin' wheel that has a slow leak (finally fixed).

Since then I've pulled codes on a few occasions, and only ever have a "bad O2 sensor" code (have an aftermarket O2 sensor that the OBDII system occasionally doesn't like).

Gas engines tend to hold a MUCH more stable temp than diesel, especially a turbo diesel. Those just have a much broader operating temp range - no load you have (relatively) little heat developing, but under load you have both the engine and a turbo generating a lot of heat (more power=more heat). Gas engines generate a lot of heat all the time they're running. A bit more when under load, but nothing like the variation in a diesel. Still, wish I'd not been lazy and actually hooked everything up.

We're about to do a trip from Denver to Sioux Falls with a 3k lb trailer. Think I'll pickup an OBDII monitor to see what's going on this trip. Mind, this is a truck with over 200k miles. What a trooper!

Last Train - considering the mistreatment I've heaped on the Ridge, I don't think you have anything to worry about. I WILL say you really want to stay on top of trans fluid changes and rear diff changes. Honda uses smaller diameter than usual clutches to make a more compact transmission - this leads to higher loads/more heat in the fluid. When my fluid gets old, it starts to shift "like a truck". I'm confident these engines will be fine - the tranny is the weakest point - just treat it nice with proper changes.
 

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My bad, between you, Last Train & Kevmelbel, I forgot which Trailer/Road Warrior trip I was reading.

Otherwise, Safe Travels, and if possible get somewhere enjoyable before the Fourth, and let the Weekend Roadtrippers go crazy.
 

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I have towed boats plus 4 people and a load in the bed to WI and back from TX three times in the summer with the same 2008 Ridge. Never had a problem. I also towed a big dual axle travel trailer similar to yours from Steamboat Springs CO down to TX, no problems. I'm similar to you, check weights, drive reasonably etc. I think you're fine and there isn't any reason to get worried about temps. I tow a smaller pop up all the time. I actually bike commute to work, so my ridge hardly goes anyplace unless it has a trailer attached.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I appreciate the feedback on engine temperatures; it is helpful to hear your experiences. I'll just rely on the Ridge's temp guage and good maintenance procedures to care for the truck properly (my mechanic is already noticed that we will be changing transmission and rear differential fluids when we return from this trip).
The most recent leg of our journey was probably the most challenging yet for our 2011 RTL, because of the route I chose to take. Leaving Eureka Springs, AR westbound we chose US 62. This is a beautiful drive that is the classic Ozark Mountain highway; i.e. steep grades, a winding, twisting road with switchbacks on a two lane road. (Oh, and it was raining off and on.) So the driving environment was one that required constant attention - particularly with towing a trailer.
But I have to say that I had an absolute blast towing our rig through that terrain, because the Ridgeline managed it so well. This is a fairly well traveled highway with moderate traffic, and our truck in no way was holding anyone up nor did it give me any lack of confidence in its stability through this part of the trip. The traffic we were moving with in that stretch probably never exceeded 45 mph due to the conditions, and I made frequent use of D3 for engine braking on downhill runs and many sharp curves. We registered 10.6 MPG on the hilly terrain from Eureka Springs to just east of Pea Ridge National Military Park.
Eventually, as we headed west to Tulsa on US 412, the rain stopped and outside temperatures rose again to the mid 90s in NE Oklahoma. During this stretch we had to pull up some very long, steep grades that saw the transmission shift down to 3rd gear and RPMs at around 4000. I had typically been maintaining 60 mph on this freeway, but rather than needlessly force the issue, I settled back to 55 mph on those stretches. The temp guage? Never budged from its usual position. We also had our strongest crosswinds in the hills east of Tulsa, as they were clocking in at 15-20 mph from the south. You surely could feel some slight, occasional buffeting, but the truck held steady with no sway from the trailer. So due to the terrain and wind we showed 8.8 MPG over the 170 mile trip from Eureka Springs to Tulsa.
The key reason I started this thread was to reflect on the Gen 1's ability to tow loads in the far upper end of its rating. Though I have easily towed a 3800 lb boat for yrs with this truck, this trip presented a real litmus test - for me, anyway - of how we could move forward with an RV lifestyle. Both my wife and I now feel quite confident that we will be in good shape for the future journeys we have planned with our RTL when pulling our Freedom Express travel trailer. But give us a year or so, and then we'll be towing with a Gen 2.
 

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Although I have never towed a travel trailer with my RL, I too have push the limits of my Gen1 by towing utility trailers and boats that have weighed from 3,000 lbs to 5,700 lbs (the boat being the heaviest). My RL has towed it all with ease. However, when towing the heavy boat, I have to make certain the surge brakes are in "great" working order for our RLs do not stop well under heavy loads without some help. However, towing over the RL's limit while descending a steep hillside has been problematic (i.e. not safe). So keeping on top of your trailer brake's performance is a must.

I'm curries Last Train, are you using 91 or higher octane gasoline or are you using 87 on your trip? If you're using 91 or if you're using a mix, do you feel a difference in towing performance with premium fuel as I do?
 

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I don't know the Ridge's weight distribution off-hand, but it's superior to most pickups.

Most pickups are very front heavy - upwards of 70%+, to allow for balance when loading the bed/trailering. I think the Ridge is 65/45, much like a rear-wheel-drive car. The tow limit in the Ridge is surprisingly high given that distribution - part of that may be from suspension design + the AWD/Traction/Sway control that's built in. It certainly transfers weight to the front very well when braking with a heavy trailer.
I found the weight distribution information for the Gen1 on Honda's specifications website, it's 58/42 for all trims 2011-2014 (good guess). I can't find distribution information for the 2006-2010 model years, but I would assume the 2009 and 2010 model years are the same given there was no real changes between 2009 and 2011. So the weight distribution on the 2006-2008 model years remain unknown, but are likely to be very similar if not the same.

BobTheCoward, help me out. I've never found any information on the Gen1 that states it has trailer sway control. Where did you find that information? I know the Gen2 has trailer sway control, but that's the only Ridgeline that I know of that comes with such computer logic.
 
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