TOV's take on the 2017 Ridgeline, Acura Precision Concept, and a few other notes of interest
Date: January 14, 2016 14:25
It will take a day or two for our bodies to recover, but we are back from Detroit, which was the typical hellish maelstrom of sleep deprivation, terrible winter weather, unhealthy eating habits, and a constant stream of technical glitches.
But the important thing is that we got in there, got some photos, got some video (watch for those in the next few days), and learned a bit more about Honda and Acura's plans for the future.
On the Honda side, the world was introduced to the all-new 2017 Ridgeline. We were actually already treated to a preview of the Ridgeline in mid-December at Honda's holiday party in Detroit, but we were governed by embargo, so we knew what to expect. At the Holiday Party, a Ridgeline Black Edition was driven onto the event stage and displayed for maybe 10-15 minutes before disappearing. No real details were revealed, and few were officially revealed on Monday in Detroit, but we did learn that the Black Edition is basically an RTL-E (which is the top trim level for 2017, with the "E" unofficially denoting "Elite") with a full blackout treatment. The black 18" wheels are identical to the wheels on the RTL-E, except they're painted black. The grill is blacked out. Inside the car, there's a black roofliner, and black perforated leather seats with red accents, including red lining showing through the leather seat perforations.
Honda announced a few new features for the Ridgeline, including the in-bed audio system, which uses 6 "exciters" located inside the bed walls. A FWD version was announced, which had been rumored but wasn't exactly expected, given the struggle Honda faced to convince "truck guys" that the Ridgeline was a legitimate truck the first time around. As expected, the AWD Ridgeline gets the Honda equivalent of SH-AWD and the same Intelligent Traction System (ITS) modes that debuted on the 2016 Pilot. In fact, we were told that the entire powertrain was pretty much lifted from the Pilot. For that matter, the 2017 Ridgeline is pretty much a 2016 Pilot with a composite, UV-stabilized and scratch-resistant bed.
Apart from what was explicitly announced, we managed to gather a little bit more info while we were standing around gazing at the Ridgeline, and it's probably best to put this info in bullet point format, because why not?
- The seam between the cab and the bed. Many have wondered if this means the Ridgeline uses a separate bed module from the cab. There have even been rumors that this means Honda could offer a longbed version of the Ridgeline, but the truth is that this seam is basically there for one key manufacturing reason, and that is the fact that the new Ridgeline is longer than the 1st generation edition. The first generation Ridgeline did not have this seam, and that's because Honda was able stamp the side as a single piece. Now this was the longest single stamping that Honda could fit within their production lines, so the additional length of the new Ridgeline means that they can no longer stamp it as a single piece. Honda's designers chose to break the stamping in this location to give the Ridgeline a more traditional pickup truck appearance. Now this doesn't mean Honda can't or won't do a long bed version of the Ridgeline one day, but it is certainly not as easy as extending the frame rails and laying a longer bed on top.
- The in-bed audio "exciters" are essentially just speakers, with the cones removed, and the voice coils are attached directly to the interior of the truck bed. This uses the truck bed as a sort of transducer. As such, don't expect truly high fidelity sound. In other words, there's not a lot of high frequency extension, but it plays plenty loud and sounds fine at vocal frequencies.
- The "UV-stabilized" scratch-resistant bed doesn't sound like anything new. But the "UV-stabilized" part is what is important, because the old material that was used to line the bed required painting, as it wasn't UV-stable. That means if you slid something across the bed of the Ridgeline, you risked scratching some of that paint off, revealing the white material underneath. Now the material is black all the way through, and it no longer requires painting, so scuffs in the liner material will no longer reveal the white material underneath the black paint.
- It seems that when you select "Truck Bed Audio" from the menu screen on the audio display, it disables the interior audio. It also puts the audio system in a low power mode, sleeping the display in order to preserve the vehicle's battery life when the engine isn't running.
- The rear window now has a defroster
- We were told that the FWD model performs very well on snowy roads, in fact better than competing
AWDRWD models. (CORRECTION: see note in comments below)
- You'll probably notice that the Ridgeline does not offer the ZF 9AT. After speaking with some folks, it seems that our thoughts on Honda waiting for their own 10AT to be ready may have some validity.
Some 10th-gen Civic news that TOVers should like to hear
Remember how before the 10th gen Civic launched, there was a 6MT 1.5T EX model listed in Honda's order system? Then suddenly that trim level disappeared, and indeed there was not a 6MT Civic 1.5T at launch time. We were told that there had been some issues that came up at the last minute and the 6MT would be coming, but it would be delayed awhile. Well, we have some potentially great news to share. In speaking with some folks, it sounds like these issues were cleared up, and sooner than anticipated, so we could see 6MT Civic 1.5Ts hitting showrooms as a mid-year update. It's not set in stone but it sounds like there's a good chance that we'll see this happen. Hopefully the 6MT 1.5T will be ready by launch day for the upcoming Coupes, of which we'll be getting our first driving time in a few short weeks.
Acura Precision Concept
This was a very nice design for Acura, although one could say that it doesn't really break any new styling ground, and in fact you could pick several elements and compare them to a number of designs from other automakers and find some similarities. Nevertheless, it's a handsome concept with good proportions and a gorgeous 4-passenger interior.
In speaking with some folks at last month's holiday party, it's clear that this is not a concept for a single upcoming model, but more of a tone setter for the brand, and if it's received well by the public, it could put some pressure at Honda's upper management levels to increase their commitment towards providing the necessary resources necessary for success in the future. Acura was founded on the mantra of "Precision Crafted Performance."
It is safe expect to see elements from this design to appear on future Acura products. In fact, we were told that something coming this year would feature the Diamond Pentagon grill. Which product might that be? It seems to be a little bit early for a TLX refresh, but the RDX, MDX, and ILX all had significant updates for 2016, so barring any surprise new model introductions, that leaves an RLX MMC as the most likely candidate if it's to be a US-model. On the other hand, the person with whom we spoke could very well have been speaking about the new SUV which is set to be launched in China this year.
Last edited by JeffX on
January 20, 2016 11:50