In a recent statement to the automotive press, Honda seems to be channeling Mark Twain. In regards to the Ridgeline pickup, Honda’s release essentially translates to “rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.” In fact, Honda wants the world to know that the Ridgeline will soldier on well beyond the current 2012 refresh.
For the coming year, a Ridgeline Sport joins the product line, and the Ridgeline gets a boost in fuel economy. That’s a good thing, since the current Ridgeline’s 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway aren’t exactly “class leading.” In fact, Honda has struggled to move Ridgeline pickups in 2011, selling just 6,476 units year-to-date through September. To put that in perspective, Ford sold 7,154 Ranger pickups in September alone (and 49,788 YTD), and the current Ranger model really hasn’t been updated since 1998.
It may be the demise of the Ford Ranger, which goes away at the end of this year, that has Honda planning for the Ridgeline’s future. In the compact to mid-size pickup truck segment, the Dodge Dakota, Ford Ranger and Chevy S10 have all been put out to pasture, leaving the market to Toyota and Nissan. If Honda can make the Ridgeline a bit more competitive in terms of price and fuel economy, it can carve out a decent enough niche to make a business case for the Ridgeline.
I’d call that good news, since I’ve always been a fan of the Ridgeline. It may not be as off-road capable as other compact pickups, but it’s probably the best choice for a daily driver that doubles as a truck on weekends. If you’re in the market, don’t pass the Ridgeline by without taking a test drive.