What changes will make it different?
The current Ridgeline has been around since 2005, which is a lifetime in the auto industry. Although the rules for cars and SUVs don’t necessarily apply to pickup trucks, a decade is plenty long enough to earn a complete redesign. When speculating on what will change, it would probably be easier to ask, “What will stay the same?” In addition to an overhauled body, chassis and interior, the ’16 model year is likely to bring new engines, transmissions and more configurations than we have seen in the past.
Why should I wait for the 2016?
Should I buy a 2015 model instead?
That’ll be tough to do, considering Honda has admitted there won’t be a model-year ’15 version. The 2014 model will be the last of the line as far as the existing variant is concerned, with the nameplate taking a “pause” until model-year ’16.
Will the styling be different?
The model-year 2014 offering has a love-hate design, and we’ve already been treated to the most impressionistic of teasers from the automaker about the next version’s styling. Although the overall shape will remain similar—a pickup is a pickup after all—there likely will be a longer roofline, a more rounded front end and a steeper windshield rake. Rumors have also swirled that Honda will try to make up some ground on the competition by providing more cab and truck-bed options.
Any mechanical changes?
The Ridgeline is built on the same platform as the Odyssey minivan, and since that vehicle is about to undergo an overhaul, we can expect the same here. Look for new engines, transmissions and suspension to bring it up to date after remaining largely unchanged for almost a decade. The 2014 model features a 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 250 horsepower through a five-speed automatic transmission. The capacity and configuration of the engine should remain similar, but power will probably increase along with the amount of speeds from a new transmission.
Will fuel economy improve?
This is an important factor in truck development right now. If Honda wants to make more of an impression going forward, gas mileage has to be at the forefront of its thinking. The EPA ratings of 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway currently put the this pickup somewhere around the bottom of the class for economy.
Will it have new features?
The traditional way of offering pickups is to have a somewhat Spartan work-focused model at the bottom of the range, leading to more luxuriously equipped models as you go up the ladder. The Ridgeline has never really conformed to this tradition, so owners are already used to relatively generous levels of both standard and optional equipment throughout the range. Even though the pickup already have plenty of features, Honda isn’t going to launch an entirely new model without some headline-grabbing goodies to set it apart from the competition. This may include blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning systems, especially on higher-spec models.
How will 2016 prices be different?
The Ridgeline is already expensive, and there is little room in this market for the price to go up. At the very least, the automaker needs to add a lower-priced entry-level model into the range.
When will it come out?
Don’t expect to see a concept or prototype at auto shows until at least January. That means the model-year ’16 pickup probably won’t arrive in showrooms until early in calendar-year 2016.
What change would make it better?
For one, the size of the truck bed, which currently is little more than an open-top trunk. Although this feature may appeal to a niche audience, it likely alienates many more buyers than it attracts. If Honda wants to sell the model-year ’16 Ridgeline in significant numbers, it must aim for more versatility. The automaker can continue to offer a version with a small truck bed, but that needs to be supplemented with more practical larger beds and possibly versions with longer wheelbases.
It’s believed that the “new” Ridgeline was originally scheduled to come out as a 2012 model year, but the recession and the disastrous effect it had on truck sales tanked that idea. Honda instead chose to push hard and get its Crosstour out instead, which now looks like a questionable decision. Honda has a chance to become a true competitor in the segment. Let’s hope it makes the most of the opportunity.