2020 Honda Ridgeline

2020 Ridgeline Photos
Many have their doubts about the Honda Ridgeline's unibody structure and independent rear suspension. Not me. I once drove the latest Ridgeline generation to Racetrack Playa, a geological wonder you may have read about in Death Valley. The trip there was a tooth-rattling 54-mile out and back journey on a badly washboarded dirt road, but thanks to its carlike unibody structure and independent rear suspension doing a better job sucking up the washboard at speed, the Ridgeline survived the trip much better than two off-road package trucks that tagged along. It may have returned with one slightly leaky rear shock, but the Tacoma TRD Off-Road and Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X suffered dramatic explosive failures of their rear shocks and irreversible heat damage to their front ones. The Ridgeline’s suspension has no equal in the pickup world when it comes to on-road ride and handling, and unlike the weird first generation's compromised bed, the new one's is longer and wider than any other midsize crew cab. It’s got that trunk and two-way tailgate, too. By all accounts it’s a great truck if you can admit you’ll never take it to Moab. But Death Valley surprised me. Much like that original generation, the 2020 Honda Ridgeline is actually quite well-suited to some off-highway situations. Let’s see if we can figure out why.   Right away we see something different. The Ridgeline uses MacPherson strut (yellow arrow) front suspension. Struts are strong, but their presence here does confirm that extreme articulation isn’t in the cards. Also, the front air dam ahead of the wheel opening doesn’t offer a very impressive approach angle. Neither of these are limitations on dirt roads in reasonable condition. But, yeah, it’s also true that the idea of the Ridgeline on the Rubicon trail is laughable.   The second-generation Ridgeline’s front struts (yellow) contain a hidden feature that was NOT present in the first-generation truck. It’s called Amplitude Reactive Damping, and what that means is the struts contain two damping valves instead of one. These shocks use one of the valves to generate less damping force and produce a more compliant ride when wheel motions are small on broken asphalt, gravel roads and washboard surfaces. The other valve comes into play to create more damping force when wheel motions become more exaggerated, as they would be as the body heels over during hard cornering. The lower end of the suspension is positioned by a forged-aluminum control arm (green), a stronger piece that replaces a heavier steel unit that was present on the first-generation truck.   The steering knuckle (green) is cast steel piece that is stronger than the one used on the original Ridgeline. That's a theme that also applies to the hubs, wheel bearings, ball joints and other pieces. The second-generation Ridgeline is simply a beefier truck than its predecessor. This knuckle employs a pinch-style strut mounting point, which means the lower end of the strut itself should include a thin bracket that fits into the slot (yellow) …
Full Review
Many have their doubts about the Honda Ridgeline's unibody structure and independent rear suspension. Not me. I once drove the latest Ridgeline generation to Racetrack Playa, a geological wonder you may have read about in Death Valley. The trip there was a tooth-rattling 54-mile out and back journey on a badly washboarded dirt road, but thanks to its carlike unibody structure and independent rear suspension doing a better job sucking up the washboard at speed, the Ridgeline survived the trip much better than two off-road package trucks that tagged along. It may have returned with one slightly leaky rear shock, but the Tacoma TRD Off-Road and Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X suffered dramatic explosive failures of their rear shocks and irreversible heat damage to their front ones. The Ridgeline’s suspension has no equal in the pickup world when it comes to on-road ride and handling, and unlike the weird first generation's compromised bed, the new one's is longer and wider than any other midsize crew cab. It’s got that trunk and two-way tailgate, too. By all accounts it’s a great truck if you can admit you’ll never take it to Moab. But Death Valley surprised me. Much like that original generation, the 2020 Honda Ridgeline is actually quite well-suited to some off-highway situations. Let’s see if we can figure out why.   Right away we see something different. The Ridgeline uses MacPherson strut (yellow arrow) front suspension. Struts are strong, but their presence here does confirm that extreme articulation isn’t in the cards. Also, the front air dam ahead of the wheel opening doesn’t offer a very impressive approach angle. Neither of these are limitations on dirt roads in reasonable condition. But, yeah, it’s also true that the idea of the Ridgeline on the Rubicon trail is laughable.   The second-generation Ridgeline’s front struts (yellow) contain a hidden feature that was NOT present in the first-generation truck. It’s called Amplitude Reactive Damping, and what that means is the struts contain two damping valves instead of one. These shocks use one of the valves to generate less damping force and produce a more compliant ride when wheel motions are small on broken asphalt, gravel roads and washboard surfaces. The other valve comes into play to create more damping force when wheel motions become more exaggerated, as they would be as the body heels over during hard cornering. The lower end of the suspension is positioned by a forged-aluminum control arm (green), a stronger piece that replaces a heavier steel unit that was present on the first-generation truck.   The steering knuckle (green) is cast steel piece that is stronger than the one used on the original Ridgeline. That's a theme that also applies to the hubs, wheel bearings, ball joints and other pieces. The second-generation Ridgeline is simply a beefier truck than its predecessor. This knuckle employs a pinch-style strut mounting point, which means the lower end of the strut itself should include a thin bracket that fits into the slot (yellow) …
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Retail Price

$33,900 - $43,520 MSRP / Window Sticker Price

Smart Buy Price

$2,669 - $3,037 Nat'l avg. savings off MSRP
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Engine 3.5L V-6
MPG 19 City / 26 Hwy
Seating 5 Passengers
Transmission 9-spd auto w/OD
Power 280 @ 6000 rpm
Drivetrain front-wheel
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