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I recently did another round trip to my parents’ home in Indiana, so I had a lot of seat time in, and time to ponder about,
our 2018 Honda Ridgeline long-term tester
. It’s a trip of roughly eight hours of highway driving. And in that time, I was reminded of many things I quite like about the
. It’s quiet, the ride is excellent, the seats are super cushy, the steering is tight and light, and
the engine sounds good and pulls well
. And then when I was driving around town, I appreciated
the short nose and generally tidy dimensions
that made it a breeze to maneuver.
As I considered all of this, it dawned on me that these characteristics were more car-like than that of a truck. The maneuverability, the refinement, the sharp steering all stood in contrast to the usual truck experience of stiff ride, unwieldy size, sluggish steering, and hampered handling. It had me thinking how weird it is that the Ridgeline doesn’t sell better in the truck segment. For reference, the Ridgeline has only sold a little more than 20,000 units this year. The
has sold nearly 51,000, the
combined have hit nearly 87,000, and the
is over 161,000 sales.
Here, I think, is the problem: Truck buyers just don’t care. They don’t care that we all keep praising the Ridgeline for its practicality and its car-like demeanor. They don’t care, because they don’t actually want that. Truck buyers are looking for a truck, not a car. They actually want it to feel rough-and-tumble and a bit uncouth. They want to feel like they’re driving something big, brash and capable. They’re OK if it’s not objectively as good.
If that doesn’t totally make sense, think about
buyers. Sports car buyers are happy to trade a lot of comfort and refinement for the feel of driving something fast, loud and involving. It’s a specific feel they’re looking for.
Along the same lines is the image of these vehicles. Although the Ridgeline looks much more truck-like with its traditionally shaped bedsides, it still wears sheetmetal that doesn’t hide its crossover-based underpinnings. That short nose that’s so handy betrays the fact it has a car-like transverse-mounted engine and only front drive or all-wheel drive. It also looks as though it sits lower than the competition. And truck buyers want something that looks like a truck. They want a tall ride height and a prow like a semi.
It’s all a shame, because I still firmly believe that the
is the ideal pickup truck for the vast majority of buyers. But
really needs to accept that pickup buyers aren’t being practical. Macho style and a driving experience to match are what they’re looking for. Hopefully, Honda will take note of this and maybe another Ridgeline generation will dare to be more of a braggart.
from Autoblog https://ift.tt/2Od45lB