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My apologies in advance for the long post . . .

I do renovation type construction work . . .Things like kitchens, baths, basements, small additions. I have a family of 3 (4 year old child) and a 90lb dog. My 06 (owned since new in 05) has served as my primary work vehicle and family hauler or over 10 years and 120K miles. These have been HARD miles with lots of short trips, stop and go traffic and heavy loads (in the bed, not towed)

I have frequently read reviews and blogs etc that the Ridge is not a work vehicle. I have also seen the same (particularly of late) type of comments on this site, frequently from those who have never owned the vehicle but also from those who do own but question the toughness / suitability of the truck for work tasks. Apparently, the argument goes, Honda did not build the Ridge for work so it is inappropriate to criticize the new design for its limitations to perform "worky" things. Basically move on and get an F150 already . . .

As you might have guessed, IMHO, this argument is utter nonsense. Its an argument based on ignorance of what it needed from a work vehicle as well as simply how versatile and tough the GenI was. It may well be that Honda had no "work" goals in mind with the GenI but the reality is that they designed just about the perfect vehicle for someone like me. With the GenII now on the horizon, the obvious question(s) to me concern its suitability to perform work tasks. What's improved? What's worse?

First off, what's needed? Most of you know the ins and outs of daily driving and family hauling in the Ridge so no reason to spend time on that . . . Work? In a nutshell I need to haul tools, building supplies and trash frequently. Here are some of the Ridge's key features that make it work:

The trunk is CRITICALLY important for this task. I have a range of tools that I need just about every day and they all fit easily in the GenI's trunk. They are safe and dry in there and apparently thieves are just like most of the rest of the people on this planet and have no idea that there actually is a trunk on the vehicle. These tools can also STAY in the trunk on weekends when the Ridge becomes a family vehicle. No song and dance every weekend moving tools out and then back in. Big trips of course require clearing out the trunk but that only happens a few times a year . . . GenII verdict? Trunk is very similar in concept but with a smaller overall space that is wider (left to right) but with less width front to back. Depth is an unknown (to me). My tool buckets, cases, bags etc are all of different sizes and shapes and I have figured out how to pack the trunk so that every nook an cranny is used. I have even at times forsaken the spare tire for additional tool storage. The GenII has less trunk volume and likely less spare tire space. "More useable space" or not being 2+- cubic feet less than the GenI is going the wrong way!

The convertible rear seat area is also critically important. It will haul a whole mess of tools and supplies out of the weather and under lock and key. It can also carry my helpers when needed safely and comfortably. Door access to the rear space is also obviously important. The GenI gets a "pass" at best for this with the door frame width being decent but the opening angle of the doors being a bit limited. GenII verdict? Based on comments, reviews and picutures that rear seat area is at best the same size as the GenI. Door width appears to be reduced but I don't know about how wide the rear door actually open. Hard to say if the GenII is worse than the GenI but it almost certainly isn't better. Honda probably should have owned up to the minvan tag and put in sliding rear doors that give complete access to the space!

The GenI's bed gets plenty of scoffs from the BOF truck crowd. Most have no idea what they are talking about but the bottom line is the bed is tough enough, long enough and wide enough to get the job done. The ability to lay 4'x sheets of building materials flat in the bed (tailgate down) is HUGE. The Ridge will haul 30 sheets of 1/2" drywall more easily and safely any mid-size truck, only being eclipsed by a full size with an 8ft bed (no drop in bedliner though or you can't close the tailgate!) where you can close the tailgate. In general, the GenI will haul it all in the bed:boards (10ft or shorter for my comfort zone), rock, sand, concrete etc etc. The "Rock Drop Test" videos that you have seen for both the GenI and II have been repeated on my GenI any number of times and my battle scarred bed is crack free and still working fine. Load capacity is also ample and even when moderately exceeded the truck hauls it well with no permanent damage. GenII verdict? All the bed dimensions have been moderately increased except for depth. Payload is also moderately increased as is (probably) the trucks ability to comfortably pull and stop it. The increased width, and length would most certainly be useful. The lack of depth is clearly a compromise for having rear visibility and the underbed storage spaces and it is a compromise that I am willing to accept. Trash hauling might be better in the GenI but overall I think the GenII's bed tops the GenI's as long as it is able to stand up to the same punishment.

Having a proper roof rack is also critical. Heavy objects, longer than 10-12 feet really need to go up top. Honda's OEM rack IMHO is a piece of fluff that not only looks stupid but doesn't have the capacity for carrying work loads. Necessity is the mother of invention and back in 05, and I figured out a way to build a sturdy adjustable roof rack system that bears some of its weight on the cab roof and some of its weight on the bed. Now there are options like the bed based Vantech racks. GenII? The flat bed rails and longer bed length should make it easier for the aftermarket to build a useful bed mounted rack.

Having a sliding rear window sure is useful. Long, light weight (relatively) objects can quickly be slid through the rear window into the cab and be safely secured with ratchet straps (wrap the straps around the object to keep them from shifting forward). Long floppy objects are particularly well suited to being hauled in this manner and don't behave well on your typical roof rack. Typically, when carrying stuff through the rear window, the rear seat is in the up position which protects the window frame and I have a piece of PVC pipe sliced in half that I can set on top of the seat rear seat fabric where the objects are resting when shoved through the window. GenII? The windows width is clearly smaller than the GenI. This will limit its utitlity. It is also completely IDIOTIC that Honda has chosen to include the sliding rear window only on the highest trim levels and combined with a sun/moon roof. Besides the added costs for features that I don't need, glass on the trucks roof is the last thing I want with the frequent manhandling of objects up onto the roof. If I did purchase the GenII I would probably have to figure out how to fit the OEM sliding rear window to a lower trim level. Hopefully Honda will wise up on this one within a few years.

The GenI's interior (front) has worked pretty well for me over the years. The seating position gives a commanding view of the road and there are lots of places to put keys, tape measures, receipts, etc etc. Having the front seat pass through space available for drinks, supplies etc is very nice in the GenI. The dash is also relatively tough and scuff resistant from contact with building materials. My dirty hands also don't seem to much damage to the interior controls. GenII? Aesthetics aside the GenII interior seems to be is a step away from the utility driven GenI design. Having to touch the screen with my dirty hands frequently seems like bad idea. Perhaps a low glare screen protector would solve this issue? I should also mention that the car like interior aesthetics rub my workman's sense of tastes COMPLETELY WRONG and would feel like a compromise regardless of how they function. I suppose I could get over it but I sure hope (but doubt) Honda eventually decides to give the Ridge it's own TRUCK interior (and front end too!)

AWD performance gets me to work in all winter conditions and tackles muddy job sites as well. Ground clearance and chassis toughness are also up to the task of job site "off roading" I see little reason to doubt that the GenII will perform as well if not better than the GenI in this area.

Fuel economy. I am lucky to get 15mpg on my 06. This is mostly city driving but also some forays onto the crapshoot that is the DC area beltway. My trunk is almost always full of tools so that helps to drag the MPGs down as does the rear roof rack bar that is always mounted. GenII? In the exact same conditions I would guess 18-19 mpg. If so, that would definitely be better but it is still disappointing that Honda hasn't done more in the 10 years since my 06 was made. My kind of driving would probably benefit more from stop / start technologies as well as hybrid power trains. It will be interesting to see if the Ridge is able to stick around long enough for Honda to add these types of features. A diesel would be sweet to but that doesn't even seem to be on Honda's radar. . .

Thats enough for now! I hope this was of interest to someone out there! . . .

Anyone else out there using their GenI for work? How does the GenII look to you as a replacement?
Excellent analogy, GEN I vs GEN II. Pay attention Honda and well said "eurban".:smile:
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