About two years ago I expressed an interest in the then-new second generation Honda Ridgeline
, speculating about a single-vehicle replacement for my Escape and F150 as a 'personal fleet simplification move'. I did a G2 Ridgeline first-look and test drive at a dealer in San Marcos, TX (east of Austin). That was a 'stereotypical' car dealer experience - less than informed salesman with moderate high-pressure pitch. I concluded it wasn't a good move for me at that time.
I've recently been drawn back to the notion of 'fleet simplification'. Passage of time, my routines in retirement are comfortably settling-in, vehicles have evolved, trends in the direction Ford is taking are clearer, the new Ranger is out, the G2 Ridgeline has had a few years of 'proving up', etc, etc.
After lots of lurking and research on the very helpful Ridgeline Owners Club Forum
(happens to be another active and well-moderated AutoGuide site) I made an appointment for another test drive at the nearest Austin, TX dealer, now much better informed myself and focused on the RTL-E Ridgeline model trim (top-line, standard features include: AWD, 5k# trailer rating, 7-pin trailer connector and receiver hitch, pre-wired for trailer brake controller, all the driver assist, audio, Nav [Garmin system with 5 years free DIY updates via internet], etc, etc).
I had a nice no-pressure visit, '19 RTL-E detailed walkthrough & test-drive at that Austin dealer this morning. Must say the salesman was very well informed on the RL and readily said "I don't know the answer to that - I'll get back to you" when I asked if the in-console USB port could be used for playing music on a flash drive (the full-capability CarPlay etc phone USB port is on the lower dashboard). I'm always encouraged when a car salesman admits they don't know the answer to a question (rather than 'winging it' or 'dancing').
The long test drive on a route of my choosing from highway to some nasty bumpy roads was very positive - I liked driving the vehicle a lot; it's an impressive blend / compromise between a mid-size truck and a very quiet and comfortable car.
Very good IIHS safety ratings and interestingly one of the highest 'USA content' vehicles we can get here - engine build, tranny build, and final assembly are all in the USA - the only place Ridgelines are made for Honda globally.
The non-turbo V6 engine still has "VCM" (shuts down 3/6 cylinders under certain conditions to gain mileage) but I now know that can be defeated safely with a small mileage penalty. It does not
use auto start/stop. The AWD system is very sophisticated, proven reliable, and gets very good reviews. Same positive reviews for trailer towing within the rated 5,000# limits which is all I now need (my Casita 17' RV is 3,500# loaded; more than a few G2 RL owners on the Casita forum reporting great satisfaction with the match-up).
The two-way tailgate (drop or swing) and the watertight in-bed trunk that will swallow both of my Honda Eu2000i generators are still two of the niftiest features on any pickup, IMO. And it'll allow a 4' wide sheet of plywood/drywall to lay flat in the bed between the wheel wells unlike any other mid-size pickup competitor.
Buying a Honda is much different from buying a Ford - sales incentives are much less the norm, especially on the 'niche' Ridgeline. 'Options' and 'options bundles' are non-existent - you just shop among the trim-level and that's what you get.
Visiting with the salesman I shared my intended strategy of waiting for release of the '20 in hope of some incentive on a '19. While not yet formally announced, the '20 RL is not expected to be a major change, at most perhaps incorporating some things from the 'refreshed' '19 Pilot, the biggest substantive item maybe
being the offering of the 9-speed ZF auto as a replacement or option for the long-proven 6-speed.
FWIW I was told ....
- After checking with the dealer 'inventory manager' they are still ordering '19s through June, have no hint of order opening for 20s, therefore would not expect 'em till August at the earliest
- Looking to last year I was told there was no RL incentive on '18s when the '19s were released; all readily agreed that's no indication of what might happen on 19s when 20s are released
Separately the sales manager dropped in to visit and I mentioned seeing lots of '19 RTL-E's advertised in Dallas at below the Dallas region Edmunds TMV (which runs meaningfully lower than Austin TMV where we are located). I said I'd be buying with no trade, selling the Escape and F150 myself, and would politely decline all offers of dealer extras. He just smiled and said "I'm confident we can do a quick and straightforward deal on those terms and keep you from driving to Dallas when you're ready to buy."
Sales Mgr. offered that he understands my 'no trade' approach but would like to opportunity to surprise me with an offer on my very clean '14 Escape, politely reminding me to factor-in the effect of the trade on the sales tax for the new vehicle (trades in Texas come off the bottom line before
vehicle sales tax is calculated).
All-and-all a pleasant experience for a car dealer visit. Between two test drives at two different dealers with lots of research in between, this long-time Ford owner is now 99.9% certain that my next vehicle will be a Honda Ridgeline
The only question now is how long I wait looking for the most advantageous financing.
None of this anything bad to do with my '14 Escape or '05 F150 experience - both vehicles have been superb for me and I've absolutely zero regrets; I've no doubt that both will continue to provide good and reliable service. I suppose it is a comment on where Ford is today when it comes to the small group of buyers that share my needs and tastes.