Thu | Sep 21, 2017

VIDEO: A Ridgeline between elegance and practicality

Published:Sunday | April 23, 2017 | 4:02 AMKareem Latouche
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The second-generation Ridgeline, which is built on a platform shared with the Honda Pilot, was produced in May 2016. Its distinctive unibody design seemed to be a hit with many Jamaicans, who imported the first-generation model independent of local Honda dealer, ATL Automotive Group.

This time around, ATL Automotive Group decided that it wouldn't be left out of the expected success of the second-generation Ridgeline by adding it to their vehicle options.

Given that it is targeted primarily to the US market, it is only offered as a left-hand drive in Jamaica. Fortunately, the lane departure camera in the right mirror provides sufficient assistance to help drivers adjust to being placed on this side.

WATCH: 2017 Honda Ridgeline Overview 

One of the outstanding things about this vehicle's untraditional design is the cargo bed, which is not detached from the cab like the regular pick-up, even though there is a partition line to give the illusion that it is separated.

Despite this, the vehicle feels very sturdy and drives more like an SUV than a pick-up.

With that being said, the verdict is still out on how the cargo bed will feel when it is filled with objects. I doubt there will be much flexibility to adjust to the distribution of weight, given its unibody frame.

To be fair, a pick-up like this is not built for a construction site; it's more for a person who intends to use the extra space in a passive manner, like carrying friends to the beach or hauling ATVs, not loading cement and concrete blocks.

The Drive
I am delighted that Honda used a six-speed transmission and not a CVT, which can be very disengaging. The vehicle applies power on demand with a precision that is greatly appreciated, especially when going uphill. Also, Honda's Intelligent Traction Management system functioned more than adequately when confronted with the Irish Town, St Andrew, junction.

There are four drive modes available: sand, snow, normal, and mud. With that being said, I think most persons will just keep it in normal mode and let the computer do the thinking. In addition, it's all wheel drive, hence, there this no option to select four-wheel or two-wheel drive.

As it pertains to handling, the weight of the steering felt perfect, especially when taking on corners. The same can be said about the suspension, which managed the road to Hollywell from Kingston quite easily.

What caught me off guard was how adequate the ride height was. Looking at it from a distance, its 7.87 inches for ground clearance makes it lower to the ground than the average mid-size pick-up. Surprisingly, this was not an issue off road. While driving over challenging terrain, I was a bit sceptical but it was able to clear it without even scraping the side rails. Admittedly, it cannot be used for extreme off road conditions, however, it should be OK for casual off roading.

 

Thoughtful features

- Conversational mirror: Usually, when parents are carrying their kids, they often turn their heads to look at who is talking in the back. Well, to avoid this temporary distraction from the road, Honda has placed a convex mirror in the sunglasses compartment, that can be retracted in the roofline. When angled halfway, it can be used to see everyone in the back seats.

- Cooler on deck: Given that this is more of a versatile lifestyle pick-up, there is a storage space in the cabin bed that can be used as a cooler. It is also equipped with a drainage plug, so when all the ice has melted, you can simply open it and allow all the water to drain out.

- Storage: It's clear that part of Honda's design mandate is to create vehicles that prioritise storage, and the Ridgeline holds true to this. The base of the back seats can be folded to create enough space to hold a mountain bike with the wheels intact.

- Creature comfort interior: The full-black interior has soft touches all around with padding along the door rest and the adjustable arm rest, which is located over the huge central storage compartment.

Despite the fact that there is no physical volume knob, the infotainment system is far more responsive than that of its cousin, the CRV. The experience becomes more pleasant when it is paired with your phone via Bluetooth, Apple Carplay, or Android Auto.

I think Honda is aware that the utilitarian pick-up market is cornered by the likes of Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet, hence they have created a new market for themselves with the Ridgeline.

 

What I like:

- Responsive touch-screen infotainment system

- Accurate voice recognition when programmed into vehicle

- Very comfortable ride

 

Gripe:

- Backdoor doesn't open wide enough

 

General Info:

- Cost of test model: $7.985 million with a monthly cost of $92,400

- Engine size: 3.5 litre V6

- Hp: 280 @ 6,000 rpm

- Transmission:6-speed automatic

- Competitors: Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, VW Amarok

- Who the dealer believes the vehicle is for: "The Ridgeline has a wide appeal ranging from males to females in their late 30s to 60s. It's a vehicle for those looking for adventure, as it is rugged and able to switch into different drive modes to accommodate any experience. It's also considered the most family-oriented pick-up as it's extremely spacious and comfortable," said Christina Taylor, group marketing manager, ATL Automotive Group.

 

Improvements

- An increase in interior volume (depending on trim level), such as a 0.3 in (8 mm) increase in under-seat storage in the second row.

- A bigger bed

- A more powerful 3.5L V6 engine

- An improved AWD system that's 22 per cent lighter

- With a 20 per cent increase in torque capacity it is now able to dynamically distribute torque between left and right rear-wheels.

Test drive provided courtesy of ATL Automotive Group,

1-888-285-7378, sales@atlautomotive.com.