Ridgeline Reflections

Update by Tim Suddard to the Honda Ridgeline project car
Apr 12, 2010

The Ridgeline feels as solid and well built as it did at 10,000 miles.

We bought our 2006 Honda Ridgeline in June 2005. By the time you read this, our Ridgeline will have passed its sixth birthday and the odometer will have hit 100,000 miles. We have towed to the Midwest, the Northeast and places like Sebring, Roebling Road, VIR and Road Atlanta a bunch of times.

At 60,000 miles, we did brakes front and rear. We also had the seat fixed under warranty. After four years, we put in a new battery. We’ve done the recommended service, and there’s only been one real problem since we bought the car: At about 75,000 miles, the differential light came on. We were initially told that the differential would have to be replaced at a cost of over $4000.

We aren’t quick to whine to our friends at Honda, but when a dealer tells you that a differential that is working perfectly and making no noise needs to be replaced on a vehicle that is hardly ever used in off-road conditions— and all at a cost of over four grand—we had to squawk.

Our friends at Honda public relations talked to Honda customer service, and the problem was rediagnosed as a $600 differential controller. It was fixed at no charge, and we’ve had zero problems since. Yes, we have friends at Honda and, yes, we run a car magazine, but honestly, Honda has a very good reputation for helping out-of-warranty owners fix reasonable problems. We probably would have been treated the same way if we were ordinary customers.

So, what to do? The payment book is empty, the Ridgeline is now five years old and, quite honestly, we figured we would have been ready to trade it in by now.

Last year, Honda did a minor freshening of the Ridgeline. We looked it over, but ours was running too well and the changes were too minor for us to consider trading. Apparently we aren’t the only Ridgeline owners to feel this way. In 2008, Honda sold about 33,000 of the 50,000 Ridgelines they were expecting to sell. In 2009, the sales figures were cut in half. It’s easy to blame the economy, but I think a lot of Ridgeline owners are in the same position we are. The damn thing is still so reliable after five years and 100,000 miles that we don’t need to upgrade.

If we were going to upgrade, we’d want something significantly better and different. The Honda Ridgeline is nearly perfect. It does the work of a primary vehicle nearly perfectly. It still drives well, rides nicely and is strong enough to tow our race car. However, it’s also nice enough for a date night. Just crank up the stereo and take it out on the town.

We’ve talked to other Ridgeline owners, and we all seem to want the same thing in a new version: something 10 to 15 percent more fuel efficient and 10 to 15 percent less ugly.

We readily admit that the Ridgeline is like an ugly mutt that you need to grow to love. The high sides on the bed are a pain in the neck, while the macho truck lines and high hood do nothing to help fuel efficiency. Plus, they’re so un-Honda.

Honda, please forget the Hummer mentality and bravado. Give us some reasonable looks on the outside and a bit more of that Honda magic under the hood, and we’ll rush right in and buy another Ridgeline.

If you don’t redesign this vehicle, we will just keep this one forever, move it to beater status, and buy a Ford Flex. We like the fuel mileage and driveability of that vehicle a lot. We still need a primary peoplemover, but we don’t like the direction you’ve taken with the Pilot. Honda, you of all companies taught us that bigger is not always better. Why have you changed your philosophy to try to be more like GM? Look where that has gotten them.

There are strong rumors out there that Honda will drop the Ridgeline altogether. That would be a travesty. If you agree that the Ridgeline needs to be not only saved, but made more fuel efficient, give Honda a ring at (800) 999-1009 and tell ‘em GRM sent you.

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View comments on the GRM forums
Nashco UberDork
4/13/10 8:12 p.m.

Really, you're going to bag on GM right after talking about having to pull some corporate strings to get a free diff repair at 75k and griping about crummy mileage? Here's some food for thought when comparing a new Avalanche to a new Silverado. The Silverado has a 100k mile powertrain warranty, no corporate string-pulling required. The Silverado also gets better fuel economy.

I know you guys are gaga for Honda, but you've got to give the General a bit of credit....even though their trucks are bigger and heavier than your Honda, they STILL get better fuel economy. It's also hard to ignore that 100k powertrain warranty when dealers out there are trying to charge $4000 to fix a bulb on the dash.

At least you're recognizing that things like a better warranty and better fuel economy are important aspects of ownership and are areas where Honda has issues. I just wanted to make sure you recognize that while you bag on GM, they actually serve the customer better in those aspects.


Cotton UltraDork
4/13/10 9:32 p.m.

+1 on Nascho's comment.
Not to mention the Ridgeline is the worst selling truck in the US. In 09 it sold 16k units...the entire year. GM, on the other hand, sold over 400k of the Sierra/Silverado in 2009. Not to mention Colorado sales. Yeah Honda don't try to be more like GM......you might sell a truck.

wrenchedexcess New Reader
4/14/10 1:21 a.m.

A few comments on this one. First since it is out of warranty, why go to the dealer? Come on you know better. First I would have checked Alldata or Shop key for any TSBs if there were any and check the diagnostic procedures concerning the diff. You probably laid out 6 century notes for a $100 sensor and the instillation.

As far as the Colorado/Canyon is concerned and an expression from Mr. T; "I pity the fool!" I have to work on a fleet of them and they are garbage. The Citation is a better vehicle compared to the Colorado. The brakes are a nightmare, The interior is cheap plastic, the HVAC controls and vents suck big time.Pray that you never get t boned in it because the frame (though boxed) is a third of the size of an S10. And I consider myself a GM person. 5 of my 6 vehicles are GM.

Nashco UberDork
4/15/10 12:05 a.m.

Why did I type Avalanche above when I meant Ridgeline? Weird. Freudian slip I suppose, ha! Hopefully you know what I meant. ;-)


Bobzilla PowerDork
4/20/10 2:52 p.m.

I'm with Bryce. I bought a better truck, with better capabilities all around that gets better fuel mileage and will last longer while doing more. No thanks. Y'all already know my position on this "thing".

earlybroncoguy New Reader
9/27/12 6:48 a.m.

Sorry, the Ridgeline is not a truck. It's a minivan with part of the roof missing. Seriously, you guys should know better.

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