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What year is considered the best 1st gen to buy?

32791 Views 14 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Draggin129
A friend of mine is interested in purchasing a used 1st gen Ridgeline. I have had my 06 for years. It has not been without a few issues like: Oil leaks, radio light failures, headliner dropping, and a few misc annoyances.

Is there any 1st gen Ridgeline year where everything just came together?

In other vehicles, some years are better than others. Usually the first year for a new generation or phase comes with a few issues until the new items are worked out. On other cars, the last year of a generation comes with some electrical system changes that being tested for the next generation. Those years can come with a set of unique issues to only that year.

Please chime in.

Thank you,
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This is 100% opinion here, not backed up by any facts. Flame suit on.....

1-The first generation RL received a minor tweaking with the 2009 model year, IMHO anything after 2009 would be more desirable.

2-Based on post to the ROC, it seems to me that there were more fit and finish issues with the last two years of production 2013 and 2014.

3-I have a 2012 that had a oil leak from a main bearing bolt when new, that was corrected and I have had zero issues or problems with the truck since.

So, If I were shopping for a G1, I would only consider 2009 to 2014 with a slight preference for the middle years 2011 & 2012.
We've been fortunate with the two Gen 1's we've owned - started with a used, very low mileage 2009 RTS as our entry point. Got it on the recommendation of our independent mechanic who had a solid feel for Hondas in general. He also knew we needed to tow our ski/fish boat (weighs around 3800 lbs. when fully loaded). And we pretty quickly fell in love with the thing. It never gave us the slightest bit of a problem - whether being used as our daily driver or as a tow vehicle for our boat. We just maintained it per the Maintenance Minder with a little more aggressive attention to oil changes.

We liked that one so much that, upon noting the rumors of the Ridgeline going away, we decided to buy a new 2011 RTL (without navigation). Same story on that model - that we still drive today and have just over 126,000 miles on it. Not a single squeak or rattle. The only problem we've had is an annoying and intermittent failure of the overhead courtesy light on the driver's side. The switch on that side only does not reliably activate the bulb inside the lens. I've swapped bulbs to isolate the problem and even removed the original lens repeatedly to get to the switch so that I could manually manipulate it. Results are uneven. Of course, I ultimately broke the tabs that secure that lens and had to replace it. And it turns out that the only way to replace the switch is to replace the entire overhead light module. Have not wanted to spend that money since I'm not that "mad" at it yet!

Additional back story to our 2011 is that for over a year and over 5,000 miles we have towed a full profile travel trailer. Typical trailer weight is right around 4600 lbs. with a tongue weight of 500 lbs. or less. GCW tallies at approximately 9700 lbs. The truck has been a surprisingly solid tow vehicle and has given us zero problems over hilly terrain, hot flat lands and everything in between. We have upped our maintenance schedule to a more aggressive "severe service" routine to stay on top of the stresses of towing in the upper regions of the Ridgeline's rated capabilities. Our mechanic knows the truck well and reports that we are in a great vehicle.

So that's our experience for these two model years. But you can read from other users on these forums similar reports from their truck. I have not read or heard about a particular model year to avoid, for instance.


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I've seen some posts on here that say to stay away from the very early 2006 models due to some issues with water leakage into the cab. My '06 was built in October of 2005 and I've not had any problems whatsoever. Overall, it's a solid vehicle and if your friend can find one with a good maintenance history they should be good to go.
I have a 2011 RTL with about 57k miles on it in New England - I have had almost zero issues - sans I am still waiting for my airbag recall - I did the brakes last year - and plan to do the tires next Fall - regular oil changes - my battery died once but that was my fault - other than that the vehicle has been super reliable -
I always liked to get the next year from initial production, gives time to work out early issues. Also agree late in build tends to get sloppy, tooling etc does not get investment knowing it will end.
Ummm, 2008 was the last model year built in Ontario.
Honda moved RL manufacturing to Alabama around mid-year of the 2009 production cycle. My vote would be to buy a 2009 built in Alliston. I like the changes Honda made to the powertrain in 2009 too.

Water leaks appear to occur in all years. My 2008 has had some issues with water leaks, but not to the extent some have reported.
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My 2011 RTL has been flawless. I bought it as a 1 owner with ample service records and I have no rattles, no squeaks or any other issues. When I bought it from a GM dealer the F&I guy, being a former Honda guy, couldn't even give me a hard time for not buying the extended warranty.
I like the changes Honda made to the powertrain in 2009 too.
what did they change?
what did they change?
2009 was the full re-fresh. Significant changes to the interior (dash display), exterior (grill, front fascia, integrated DRLs and foglight, taillights, etc), and new version of the 3.5L engine (more HP/Torque).

2012 was the mini-refresh. Minor exterior changes (grill, taillights), some engine and aerodynamic tweeks (yielding better highway mpg).

Those are just highlights of changes. If you are interested in all the details, take a look at the Wikipedia article on the Ridgeline.
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Honda moved RL manufacturing to Alabama around mid-year of the 2009 production cycle. My vote would be to buy a 2009 built in Alliston. I like the changes Honda made to the powertrain in 2009 too.
I would have to agree. If I had a choice I would prefer a 2009 that was built in Canada, as I can attest to my flawless Canadian built 2009 RL. Never been in the shop, for anything other than the airbag inflator recall.
what did they change?
Check the wiki as mentioned. Basically Honda added the MAF sensor, tweaked the tranny ratios, bumped the engine power slightly, etc.
To address the driver's side map light issue: bending the 3 prongs on the light switch UP will fix it. Video here:,d.eWE
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