America wants aggressive looking trucks and nothing else.
Honda dealers managed to remain profitable last year, despite the pandemic causing a drop of 17 percent in the brand's sales. Honda's current lineup is a strong one, but one of the weaker sellers is the Ridgeline truck. While the US has an enormous appetite for trucks, Honda only sold 32,168 Ridgeline models in 2020. In an interview with Automotive News, head of the Honda National Dealer Advisory Board, William Feinstein, says it's not because the Ridgeline is a bad truck. Feinstein instead believes its lack of success has been down to the Ridgeline's packaging.
"Dealers were asking for a Ridgeline with a more aggressive stance," Feinstein told Automotive News, "The issue with the Ridgeline has never been its capabilities or how it drives or its performance. People love the vehicle. It frankly just wasn't packaged well enough for a lot of people. I think they've addressed a lot of those issues, and I expect the Ridgeline to do very well."
Going by Feinstein's words, it appears dealers are partly responsible for the 2021 model year's more aggressively styled refresh. The new styling steers away from looking like a crossover with a truck bed and more like a purpose-built truck.
Not much has changed underneath the Ridgeline for its refresh, which speaks to Feinstein's assertion that the truck was already very capable. It's still powered by a 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, distributed to a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system by a nine-speed automatic transmission. There is, however, a new Honda Performance Development (HPD) package available.
We'll be interested to see how the new-look Ridgeline sells in 2021, but we suspect that giving into the American idea that all trucks should be macho looking will pay off. After all, the Ridgeline is a great lifestyle truck suited to more American truck buyers than want to admit it. It went on sale last month and Honda is already pushing hard with discounts.