Monthly Update for January 2017 - 2017 Honda Ridgeline Long-Term Road Test

2017 Honda Ridgeline Long-Term Road Test

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2017 Honda Ridgeline: Monthly Update for January 2017

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Where Did We Drive It?
A number of editors have been eyeballing our new 2017 Honda Ridgeline since the day it arrived, and there's been a lot of water-cooler talk about schemes involving camping and other outdoor activities. But January was very wet. With one exception, none of that talk has produced much real action. I expect we'll see some of those plans come to fruition in the warmer and drier months to come.

Even so, the Ridgeline has managed to accumulate nearly 3,500 miles in its first six weeks in our possession. Some of those miles came during routine commuting, of course. But it has also seen its share of day trips, at least one local canyon run in the mountains, a bit of muddy off-roading and an extended thousand-mile road trip to the north-central California coast.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Travis got his hands on the keys first, and he commuted to work a couple times, drove it on a short weekend trip, and finally sought out some dirt and mud at the nearby Rowher Flats off-highway vehicle (OHV) area. Other editors did much the same, only without the dirt and mud.

So far, I'm responsible for more miles than any other driver — at least 1,500 of them. My first weekend with the truck was a mix of commuting, errand-running and an early-morning trip into the local mountains north of Glendora. I was so impressed that a couple weeks later I snagged the keys again for a business trip north to Palo Alto. Not content with a mere freeway blast, I mapped out a long scenic route that grafted on a couple hundred miles of twisting two-lane mountain roads, which is not the sort of road you need to shy away from when driving a Ridgeline.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Like the driving itself, the Ridgeline's fuel economy was all over the map. Travis' trip to the OHV area netted a worst-tank of 15.2 mpg, and his local commuting pretty much matched the Ridgeline's city rating of 18 mpg.

A number of tanks have exceeded 21 mpg, the truck's EPA combined rating, and my road-trip average came in at 21.6 mpg, including the longest observed range so far — 380.1 miles. The best single tank so far belongs to Cameron Rogers, though his mark of 22.2 mpg seems certain to fall in the coming weeks and months.

All of those figures are based on real calculations, i.e. miles driven divided by gallons added. But the on-board mpg meter is telling a different and more optimistic story, which is a nice way of saying it lies. Compared to our calculated mpg figures, the meter consistently reads 7 percent (about 1.2 to 1.5 mpg) too high. Only once in 10 recorded tanks has it gone the other way, and I think that only happened because someone forgot to reset the meter.

Average lifetime mpg: 19.9
EPA mpg rating: 21 combined (18 city/25 highway)
Best fill mpg: 22.2
Best range: 380.1 miles
Current odometer: 3,608 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
Nope. Check back in a month or two.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Logbook Highlights

Performance

"This is one smooth-handling and nimble machine. It feels nothing like a truck on the tight winding roads of our local mountains. And the six-speed automatic feels like a willing partner whether I'm cruising, putting the spurs to it or just pulling out to make a pass. As I first learned in a Pilot vs. Pilot comparison test, this gearbox feels light-years more predictable and dialed-in than the bothersome nine-speed that comes in the Touring and Elite versions of the Pilot. Best part is that Ridgeline buyers don't have to fret over which version to get because all of them have this six-speed transmission." — Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

"First time driving the redesigned Ridgeline. Always amazes me how every Honda seemingly drives like an Accord. That's not a knock. The consistency is impressive. Even the original NSX was docile enough that a timid family-sedan driver could manage it. The Ridgeline feels the same. Carrying a little bit of speed into a left-hand turn at a signal, I liked the Ridgeline's balance and stability. There isn't the same feeling of lateral weight transfer you get when driving a pickup. Feels even better around a turn than the Pilot." — Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

"I'm not much of a rock crawler when it comes to off-roading. Big hills, bumpy fire roads and going through puddles full-tilt is more like it. Turn the traction control off and spit a little bit of mud sideways — that's the kind of off-roading I enjoy. The Ridgeline may be based on a crossover SUV, but it's happy to be treated like a truck. Plus, it's more comfortable on the ride home than the other two trucks in our fleet right now (Tacoma and Titan XD). Articulation isn't one of the Ridgeline's strong suits, but it doesn't matter much to me. This is a great truck for the kind of driving I enjoy." — Travis Langness, Automotive Editor

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Comfort

"Unlike traditional pickups, the Ridgeline doesn't suffer from a nervous ride quality when the bed is empty. On the highway, headed out to Palm Springs, the Ridgeline unsurprisingly felt much like the Pilot. Relatively smooth, quiet and composed." — Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

"If you'd asked me in the first couple hours of my trip to the Bay Area, I'd have said the driver's seat feels exceedingly comfortable and supportive. And it is. But something changed on the way home, and I'm not sure if it was me or the truck. The lower cushion started to feel too long, the squarish edge behind my thigh too sharp. I actually had to get out and walk around for five minutes a couple of different times. Weird that 500-mile northern leg of the journey failed to give me the same impression. You can bet I'll be keeping my eye on this in the future." — Dan Edmunds

Technology-Audio

"If you've read any of my Honda Pilot comments, you already know what I'm going to say about the Ridgeline's stereo. The virtual volume slider is laggy and awkward to use, and the attention-sucking 'map' and 'source' virtual buttons are too small and close together. It's even worse here because this truck is likely to spend more time on dirt roads, where those buttons become moving targets." — Dan Edmunds

"The voice recognition in our Ridgeline is really quite good. Even better if you use Siri through Apple CarPlay. With the Honda system, you have to follow prompts. With Apple CarPlay, you can use normal English. Both methods easily and accurately accepted my voice commands, even when I tried my best (worst) George Takei impression (video to come)." — Mark Takahashi

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Cargo Space

"I haven't hauled much of anything in the trunk except a large 30-pound bag of dog food. It looks so tiny in there. But there's more going on in this picture. Travis' mud antics made the bed filthy, but none of the muck (or pressure-washer runoff from the car wash) got past the trunk seals. So clean inside! What you can't see is the sickeningly overpowering new-car funk that is wafting out of that trunk. Those uber-tight seals that kept the mud out are also locking in all of the outgassing fumes from the brand new plastic and spare tire. Do not under any circumstances put anything alive in there!" — Dan Edmunds

2017 Honda Ridgeline

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