The Honda Ridgeline enters the third year of its second generation and this is your reminder that the base-model Honda Ridgeline is a Front-Wheel drive truck ONLY.
Update Oct 7, 2020 – Honda has discontinued the FWD-only Ridgeline. All Ridgelines now come with AWD standard.
Since the 2019 Honda Ridgeline was introduced in 2016, being somewhat of a Honda fan, I knew the base-model Honda Ridgeline RT comes in front-wheel drive only with SPORT, RTL and RTL-E FWD standard with optional AWD. Three years later, I wondered if most people still remember that little, not heavily advertised factoid? A very unscientific and impromptu poll of some of my favorite car dudes on a Facebook Group revealed that 90 percent didn’t know Honda sold a Front-wheel drive truck and 10 percent were just happy about an open poll. So, here’s your reminder that Honda does indeed sell a Front-Wheel drive truck for a couple of reasons.
Around the time the Honda Ridgeline dropped, I watched this video explaining the sales reasoning behind the front-wheel drive Ridgeline. In short, California represents a lot of Honda Ridgeline sales and with 80-90 percent of cars sold in California being Front-Wheel Drive, Honda made the decision to offer FWD anyways. Here’s the aforementioned video with that part below.
For one, Honda really wanted to offer a price point around where the 2014 Honda Ridgeline had its MSRP and the new Ridgeline at $29,450 in 2016, did just that. Today, that price is $500 more, still, a hair under $30,000. Without the extra Real-Time AWD running gear, I assume Honda can justify a cheaper price-point.
From a pure performance standpoint, Honda does not offer a more powerful engine package if you upgrade to RT-AWD, power remains the same at 280 HP and 262 lb-ft. If you’re cruising on the highway and floor it, you’re not going to feel any additional performance with AWD.
Looking at their 2016 press release, the 2WD Ridgeline is marginally cheaper on gas, literally 1 MPG better across the board than the AWD version with 19 city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. This is probably thanks to the 2WD Ridgeline being 190 pounds lighter. Arguably, that’s negligible if you aren’t paying attention.
Physically, the Front-wheel drive Ridgeline squats a little lower with a 70.2 inch height. The AWD Ridgeline comes in at 70.8 inches. In addition, he front track on FWD Ridgelines is slightly wider at .1 inches and the weight distribution is a little more nose heavy.
The two biggest disadvantages going for the 2WD model include not having RT-AWD which means power obviously can’t be thrown to the rear. It should be noted that RT-AWD Ridgelines don’t benefit from torque vectoring anyways. Also, Honda won’t throw a higher tow rating at the front-wheel-drive Honda Ridgeline at just 3,500 pounds compared to the AWD’s 5,000 pounds presumably because that will put even more stress on the drivetrain under heavier loads.
But probably the biggest advantage people choose the 2WD Honda Ridgeline is it’s $4,000 cheaper than the next trim level, the Sport trim. If you’re man enough to admit you’re only going to be driving your truck on sunny California roads where RT-AWD will likely never kick in, you aren’t going to tow much of anything, and really need a bed for the occasional heavy purchase or the convenience of an open bed in the first place, you should probably look at the front-wheel-drive Honda Ridgeline.
What do you think about a Front-wheel drive truck? Would you ever consider owning a front-wheel-drive truck yourself given your driving patterns? Let me know in the comments below!