A Lucky ’13 for Honda and the Ridgeline?
Next would come an all-new, next-gen model of the Ridgeline for 2013, and Honda would have at least two options. First, and probably the most likely, would be a radical downsizing in the name of fuel efficiency. A high-mileage compact pickup, perhaps based on the Honda CR-V, would be the expected move for an automaker like Honda, and, up until recently, I would have expected such a vehicle to find a fair number of customers. But I felt the same way about the Honda Insight and Honda CR-Z.
The problem, as I mentioned yesterday, is that interest in fuel efficiency is on the wane. Gas prices have stabilized, the government appears to have begun waffling on the next round of CAFE increases, hybrid sales have cooled down, EV sales have never warmed up, and new (if environmentally iffy) sources of petroleum are coming online.
So, while the principled decision would still be to go with an economical compact pickup, the profitable decision would be to go big with the new Ridgeline. Not body-on-frame big, mind you, but certainly no smaller than the current model. And even then, a more up-to-date powertrain would likely improve EPA ratings to some extent. One thing’s for sure: The resulting vehicle would undoubtedly improve Honda sales.