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owequitit: 2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E

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    owequitit: 2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E

    Stock:






    Towing the CB7:





    Blacked out trim:









    POWERTRAIN:

    PRL Intake tube

    PRL air filter

    PRL Intake Duct (on order)

    SVCM VCM disabler

    IdleStopper auto stop/start disabler

    Amazon oil catch can


    SUPENSION:

    STOCK

    BODY:

    Blacked out chrome trim

    OEM Black "eyebrow" on front grill

    Blacked out tailgate emblems

    OEM Black lug nuts

    INTERIOR:

    OEM Neoprene rear seat cover

    DUHA rear underseat storage

    Amazon glove box organizer

    Amazon cubby rubber liners

    Smartliner all weather floor mats

    ICE:

    STOCK

    GARMIN Mini 2 Dashcam


    So here is my current DD. Picked it up back in March of 2021 as soon as they hit the lot because I knew the supply shortages were coming...

    Got lucky and found the trim and color I wanted, which was not easy. They initially produced a bunch of Sports (many with the HPD package, which I don't like) and then the next group were Black Editions and RTL-E's. I looked at a white Black Edition, but I really wanted this color, and I don't like the red hue on the leather on the BE.

    Not a lot of mods at this point, I just blacked out the trim mostly and added a dash cam.

    Honestly, I was a little reserved when I got this thing because I wasn't sure how I was going to like it. I was originally dead set on a Tacoma TRD OR and nearly bought one, but the dealer tried to screw me in the middle of COVID so I walked. I ended up test driving one of these afterward and was simply blown away. I had never given them much credit or really even considered them. The one I drove was a 2020, right after they put the ZF9 in it, and I decided I liked the truck, but didn't like the Pilot front end, so I decided to wait and see what they changed for 2021. I am glad I did. Originally, I figured I would like it for a little while and then I would want something else, but it has turned into one of my favorite Honda products ever! The more I have it, the more I love it. It's seriously one of the best riding Hondas we have ever had, and frankly one of the best riding vehicles I have ever driven.

    Yeah, I get all the "it's not a REAL truck" B.S. but it is, in fact, a real truck. I do truck stuff with it all the time and it just does it fantastically. Haven't found something reasonable that it won't do yet, and for a midsize, the bed width and length are really nice. The trunk is a game changer, and the interior space is more along the lines of the shortened quad cab fullsize trucks, so it is far and away bigger than any other mid-size truck. It also has good performance for a mid-size.
    Last edited by owequitit; 11-12-2022, 12:42 AM.
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    #2
    "Not a real truck," good grief. The odds of those people doing any heavy duty work with their own pickups is slim to none. Nice purchase, though, it's good to hear they sound pretty capable. I wasn't crazy about the styling of these early on, but it's grown on me. I really liked the first gen just for being a unique take on an old vehicle type... and watching one race up Pikes Peak didn't hurt my perception either, haha.

    Comment


      #3
      I've heard nothing but good things about these, honestly. something i would consider as well. later.
      Avoiding dirt at all costs

      Comment


        #4
        I've personally liked and followed the 2nd gen Ridgeline since it first arrived way back in 2017. There was even a couple of times I thought of pulling the trigger on one but timing was never quite right. Each time I get into a serious discussion about this segment of trucks it always leads to debates over the usual BS if it's a "real truck" and how much better the Taco is, you know. I tend to agree for 75% of buyers it's the right truck. For hard core and image seekers maybe not. But one thing I found is a lot of the people who believe "it's gotta be full size or it's not a truck" types come away genuinely surprised by this YT video from Edmunds. It's not your typical truck review and it will do one or all of the following things after you see it.

        1. It will shatter a lot of illusions as to how much market BS goes into hyping trucks with "real real offroad suspensions". especially the ones with all the hardcore stripes, blackout trim and bilboard alphanumerics plastered onto the bed.

        2. A good number of drivers (depending on brand) will see just how limited their suspensions truly are after being subjected to long washboard roads.

        3. Dealers do make a difference when you bring your vehicle in for warranty work especially if they think you've abused it.

        And lastly the Ridgeline is a lot tougher than most people give it credit for and it's not as much a "soft-roader" as many might believe especially when comparing it to the competition and most especially after you watch this video!
        It's not perfect but it's not half bad either...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqfM...st=WL&index=70
        Last edited by hiptech; 11-08-2022, 09:54 AM.
        My Collection:
        93SE Sedan (Cashmere Metallic)
        00EXV6 Sedan (Naples Gold)
        04TSX 6-Spd Navi (Premium White Pearl)

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by CyborgGT View Post
          "Not a real truck," good grief. The odds of those people doing any heavy duty work with their own pickups is slim to none. Nice purchase, though, it's good to hear they sound pretty capable. I wasn't crazy about the styling of these early on, but it's grown on me. I really liked the first gen just for being a unique take on an old vehicle type... and watching one race up Pikes Peak didn't hurt my perception either, haha.
          That's the funny part. The day I took the pictures hauling the Accord back home, we were by far the most loaded truck I saw that day.

          We towed the car at 75-80MPH through AZ and NV (if you don't, you'll get run over), and that included over several 6% grades, including right on the other side of the valley where they do the SAE certification test (which is just north of Bullhead Arizona). It did completely fine. In most cases, it was loafing around in 8th or 9th gear at less than 2000RPM at those speeds and gave me 15MPG. It had no issues with braking or going, and it was a lot less stressful than I expected because well, "it isn't a real truck." At one point, we were cruising on HWY 93 between Kingman and Vegas and I was just trucking in the right lane and a decked out Tacoma with big wheels came flying up on his way to Vegas (normal for that road, nothing reflective of the driver or the truck), but be must have been surprised because when he caught up to us, he slowed down and then inched past us and after he got up ahead of us, took off again.

          I also used it the other day to move a Queen size bed, box spring and frame and can confirm that it will take a Queen mattress flat in the bed. I knew it would take a Queen sized air mattress, but now can say it will do a regular mattress too.

          As a side note, I bought the bed tent for it, and I hope to be able to test it out this winter.

          This one has also competed in various races, but doesn't get a lot of advertisement. Obviously, Honda has their Baja winning trophy truck, but the chase vehicles are actually stock Ridgelines with a skid plate, a front suspension leveling kit and AT tires. They are otherwise stock.

          Similarly, this has competed in the Rebelle Rally, and they have had Passports and Pilots compete in various events as well, where they have won or done really well.
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          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by hiptech View Post
            I've personally liked and followed the 2nd gen Ridgeline since it first arrived way back in 2017. There was even a couple of times I thought of pulling the trigger on one but timing was never quite right. Each time I get into a serious discussion about this segment of trucks it always leads to debates over the usual BS if it's a "real truck" and how much better the Taco is, you know. I tend to agree for 75% of buyers it's the right truck. For hard core and image seekers maybe not. But one thing I found is a lot of the people who believe "it's gotta be full size or it's not a truck" types come away genuinely surprised by this YT video from Edmunds. It's not your typical truck review and it will do one or all of the following things after you see it.

            1. It will shatter a lot of illusions as to how much market BS goes into hyping trucks with "real real offroad suspensions". especially the ones with all the hardcore stripes, blackout trim and bilboard alphanumerics plastered onto the bed.

            2. A good number of drivers (depending on brand) will see just how limited their suspensions truly are after being subjected to long washboard roads.

            3. Dealers do make a difference when you bring your vehicle in for warranty work especially if they think you've abused it.

            And lastly the Ridgeline is a lot tougher than most people give it credit for and it's not as much a "soft-roader" as many might believe especially when comparing it to the competition and most especially after you watch this video!
            It's not perfect but it's not half bad either...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqfM...st=WL&index=70
            I've been interested in it to some degree too. I didn't like the styling, and I did take a quick look when it first came out, but dismissed it partly because of the rear door opening. One thing I will give Honda credit for though, is addressing shortcomings and improving the vehicle.

            1) For 2020, the changed the somewhat problematic 6 speed for the ZF9, which gave it much more aggressive gearing, seems to be far more durable and runs substantially cooler than the 6 speed did. They also fit all trucks with a locking tailgate at this point, instead of having to put one in. They also adopted the "front door checker" mod, which had been popular by owners, where they put the nearly 90* front checkers on the back, allowing the back door to open several more inches and actually make the back seat more accessible. Then obviously, for 2021, they redid the front end to fix the "Pilot with a bed comments," added more offset to the wheels, added in some content, etc.

            And yes, the truck is much more capable than people think it is, but it does have some inherent factory limitations:

            https://youtu.be/vDgRu4WEG4I

            https://youtu.be/Fv-0j6qPNgA

            The guy in the Ridgeline owns New Age Performance, and he currently has the fastest Civic Type-R drag car, which I believe is well into the 10's. He is also well known for his 300+ HP NA K series engines. The guy in the Passport is just an enthusiast who overlands all over the western US. He has done some of the more aggressive trails in Moab and also in the Colorado Rockies. He has videos of all of it.

            That said, the limitations in order of the first that would cause issues to last:

            1) Ground clearance is not great. The Ridgeline has about 7.5", which I have figured out occurs at the little aluminum splash shield that covers the PTO and rear cat. The clearance at the rest of the truck is actually not horrible with it varying between 8.5-10" depending where you measure. Manny has a set of Eibach lift springs for the Ridgeline with a 1.5" spacer and then he has a homegrown strut extender, which he should have on market soon. Everything else he is using is commercially available except one part (I'll explain).

            2) The second limitation is protection. There is a company that makes skids for the front, rear diff, gas tank, carrier bearing and catalytic converter that also replaces the thin aluminum cover I mentioned above. Honda clearly wasn't expecting a lot of off-roading when they designed it. You could put this in number one too.

            3) Tires. The truck comes with road biased all seasons. Obviously, AT or MT tires make a huge difference, and there are several AT's that don't really degrade ride quality or noise, which are hallmarks of this truck. If I really wanted M/T's, I'd have to consider whether the Ridgeline is really the best platform for that.

            4) The AWD system is actually highly capable. It is essentially identical to SH-AWD, but is programmed more for maximum traction and stability. The rear differential is between a mechanical locker and an open diff. It is capable of locking 50/50 to both rear wheels, but since it is clutch based, it has a threshold beyond which it can't lock fully anymore. It's something like 70% of the available torque in 1st gear. Beyond that, the clutches have to slip slowly, so it becomes effectively an LSD. Below that threshold though, is MUD or SAND mode, it locks the two axles together like a locker would.

            The other limitation inherent in this version of the AWD system is that the front is open differential and Honda didn't really put a well designed or highly capable traction control system on the front. The new Pilot will have something that effectively like A-Trac, wherein it has the ability to generate brake vectoring on the front end, which ensures that power is able to be transferred to the rear. As it is, the system is really slow to react, or doesn't react at all when opposing corners are spinning, which effectively bypasses the rear diff. As I said, the new Pilot Trailsport addresses this, which makes its i-VTM4 much more effective. I expect the next Ridgeline will get that too.

            To work around this, Manny basically installed 2 line locks in the front end, one on each front wheel. This allows him to lock the brake pressure on whichever front wheel doesn't have traction, which not only helps to transfer power to the other front axle, but also ensures the torque goes into the system to be transferred to the rear. This is what they are talking about when they are talking about locking up a wheel. You have to get pretty extreme with the scenario to get to the point where such a system is essential to keep moving though.

            The other issue that not having a low range causes is a gradual heat buildup in the transmission. He cured this by installing a fan on the stock transmission cooler. The new Pilot also has about a 10% lower 1st gear ratio which will also help that. The ZF9 has a first gear ratio of 20.4:1, so it isn't exactly tall. Not as low as a Jeep, but IIRC, it is close to a Tacoma in 4L and 2nd gear. The new 10 speed will have something closer to 22:1.

            All that aside, I don't think anybody is buying this to rock crawl. However, with some light mods, this thing will do pretty much what the majority of people need to do either on or off road. I love the comfort, the usability and the build quality of it.

            I am super excited about the next Pilot and we will most likely trade our 2019 in on the new one, which addresses a few of the key issues I have with our current Pilot. At this point it is more a question of whether we want a Trailsport or an Elite.

            I guess the only other thing I would say about the Ridgeline is for people not to dismiss it. If it truly won't do the job you need great, but it is FAR more capable that people want to give it credit for.
            Last edited by owequitit; 11-12-2022, 12:34 AM.
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              #7
              A couple of updates on the truck:

              1) I just hit the 2nd Maintenance Minder at 15,500 miles. As expected, the rear diff came up for its first fluid change, so I will change the oil and diff fluid and send them to Blackstone to see what they say. I'm also debating whether a slightly thicker oil might be beneficial for longevity, though there is not really a lot of evidence that 0W-20 is causing any issues. I wonder if the early J35Y6 spun bearing issue was related, but I don't know that it was.

              2) I also installed S-VCM. I logged 15K miles with VCM operational, and I wanted to see if disabling VCM would make a difference. I debated on this for a long time because I don't really like the fact that the only way to do it is to trick the PCM into thinking that the temp is lower. S-VCM is supposed to be variable, so that if the engine actually starts to get hot, it bypasses itself and lets the ECU see the actual coolant temp vs just overheating and damaging the engine. Unfortunately, there is no ECU reflash option available because I would rather just turn it off in the ECU.

              I did notice an immediate difference in powertrain smoothness. The engine is the same, but you don't get the occasional VCM vibration and low frequency "hum" that sometimes accompanies it being active, and there is a lot less busy work from the transmission. Since VCM requires a lot of other powertrain components to smooth out its operation, I notice there seems to be a lot less torque converter activity from the transmission. It will also (hopefully) save the active engine mount.

              Surprisingly, my average MPG so far has actually gone UP. We will see if that holds through an entire year's worth of weather change, but I did not expect that. So far it is averaging about 1MPG more than it was. The truck's meter is optimistic by about 3-5%, but it is reporting just over 1MPG better in combined driving.

              I have noticed that my MPG doesn't recover as quickly when I am going downhill in the places that VCM used to run for prolonged periods of time, but I have also found that it doesn't drop as quickly going uphill either. Slow speed driving seems to be the same to slightly better, which supports my theory that VCM isn't very effective on these because of the size and weight. I also noticed through datalogging, that not only does VCM not usually stay on for more than a few seconds at a time, but there is a pretty noticeable drop in MPG when it engages and disengages for a few seconds on each side. Now, it doesn't peak quite as high, but it also doesn't drop off as much, and it seems to be averaging out in my favor.

              3) I towed my sister's Honda Fit from LA about a week ago to replace the engine harness since some rats got in there and demolished it and it was just easier to bring it here.

              Overall, the truck pulled it with no issues, but like my Accord, the U-Haul trailers put the car too far forward. I didn't weight it at a CAT scale, but I am pretty sure it put me over my tongue limit because the car was nearly entirely in front of the rear axle, and the Fit has like 65% of its weight over the front wheels. I thought about moving it back and restrapping it, but without a CAT scale nearby, I decided to just leave it.

              Again, the truck did great with no issues whatsoever. Truck and trailer speed limits in California are low (55MPH) and while I know that nobody in California really follows that, I did for the most part, because I had 13 hours worth of round trip driving to do anyway. Drove there, picked up the car and averaged about 19-19.5 MPG pulling the trailer. Loaded the car, got gas, and left for home to time missing the Christmas rush by traveling late at night. The truck was perfectly comfortable for the round trip and I had zero comfort issues. In fact, I could have pretty easily kept going.

              On the way back, MPG was slightly worse, but I was somewhere right around ~16 MPG average. The lower speeds helped MPG, but actually make the truck work harder on the really big grades because it typically had to dip down an extra gear at 60MPH vs 70-75. Still, not bad, and ride quality didn't suffer much this time either. That puts me at about 1,000 miles of towing at, or near, the trucks limit in the first 15,000 miles, which is one reason I am curious to see what Blackstone labs says. I am guessing everything is going to be fine though. Transmission temps never went about 150* and I disabled S-VCM for the trip back because I didn't want to chance it not telling me it was overheating if something went wrong. The engine never got hot either. It was also pretty cool to see it running on 3 cylinders, pulling a load at 75MPH (back in NV) in a few spots. Speeding up to 75 dropped my MPG by about 3 down to right around ~14, so that extra 15MPH costs about 15% MPG for ~25% more speed. This also lends some validity to my gearing theory above. I also found out that at the lower speeds, it was happier in "S" mode running around about 2500RPM.

              Towing does highlight one of the few issues in this condition for the Ridgeline. The gas tank is not that big when you are near the max limit of the truck. On the way there, I was able to run non-stop. I know that the overall trend is more downhill, but on the way back, we had to stop and get gas because it was going to be too tight getting back to Vegas, and I don't like to chance it. In some cases, people pulling travel trailers report as low as 10MPG, and that only gives you about a 150 mile range + reserve. In our case, range worked out to about 300 miles, but counting for reserve, I stopped at the NV border and only had about 3 gallons left in the tank. I am not necessarily saying that I think the Ridgeline needs a bigger tank because most people will not tow that much often enough to justify it, but it is definitely something you have to put some thought into planning out.

              Overall, I just like this thing more and more. I have thought about getting a "Not bad for a Minivan" sticker to put on the rear window... Maybe I should start a poll for that!
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                #8
                Originally posted by owequitit View Post
                A couple of updates on the truck:

                1) I just hit the 2nd Maintenance Minder at 15,500 miles. As expected, the rear diff came up for its first fluid change, so I will change the oil and diff fluid and send them to Blackstone to see what they say. I'm also debating whether a slightly thicker oil might be beneficial for longevity, though there is not really a lot of evidence that 0W-20 is causing any issues. I wonder if the early J35Y6 spun bearing issue was related, but I don't know that it was.
                What's Honda's spec for OCIs? I'm surprised they call out specifically for differential service as part of the Maintenance minder. My Tacoma's a 0w-20 truck, no doubt for economy reasons, but I run 5,000 mile intervals at maybe 7-8 months. I don't necessarily have an issue with 0w-20, which has to be specified more for economy than for lubrication IMHO, but I don't like the idea of running an extended interval with thin oil. I'm probably overkilling it with 5,000 mile OCIs, but outside of cost there's exactly zero downside. I do the same thing with our Jeep which runs either 5w-20 or 0w-20 depending on the date of the owners manual.

                I'm sure a 30wt won't hurt the truck, but if you're under warranty I wouldn't mess with something that could quickly get you denied, either.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by AccordWarrior View Post

                  What's Honda's spec for OCIs? I'm surprised they call out specifically for differential service as part of the Maintenance minder. My Tacoma's a 0w-20 truck, no doubt for economy reasons, but I run 5,000 mile intervals at maybe 7-8 months. I don't necessarily have an issue with 0w-20, which has to be specified more for economy than for lubrication IMHO, but I don't like the idea of running an extended interval with thin oil. I'm probably overkilling it with 5,000 mile OCIs, but outside of cost there's exactly zero downside. I do the same thing with our Jeep which runs either 5w-20 or 0w-20 depending on the date of the owners manual.

                  I'm sure a 30wt won't hurt the truck, but if you're under warranty I wouldn't mess with something that could quickly get you denied, either.
                  I am not sure. All I know is that the MM is designed to use the LCD oil in that viscosity category, plus a maximum variability fudge factor. So basically, they took the LCD oil, and then tested the hell out of it, and they took the maximum variability they were able to get and that is when it calls for an oil change. This is why it comes on at 15% of the maximum life. Maximum variability was 12% so they added a factor. That way, you can run the worst oil possible and still be adequately protected. Of course most oils are going to far outlive that. I have had an issue with the MM yet, and we have used it on multiple 0W-20 vehicles. I am more concerned about contamination from water etc than the breakdown of the oil itself, since full synthetics typically get too dirty before they break down. I am going to send a sample off to Blackstone and see what they say. Depending on their feedback, we'll see what I do. The good news about the MM is that it adjusts for driving style and mileage, so if you don't get the oil warm enough for long enough, it SEVERELY shortens the interval. During COVID, the MM on my Accord and the Pilot both dropped 30% of the oil life just from the excessive sitting. Same if you are driving it hard, etc.

                  All service on Honda vehicles is generally tied to the MM to minimize the complexity of service intervals and also to maximize time between services. The rear diff typically comes up about every 30K, but the first one is tied to the 2nd oil change, so it pops up anywhere from 10K to 16K usually. I don't know if there is a special break in fluid for the rear clutches, or if it just sheds a lot of clutch material in the first few thousand miles. Again, I am going to send a sample to Blackstone just for curiosity. Essentially, everything will pop up on schedule, but they do have some provisos that if certain conditions are met, you should deviate from the MM and follow the substitute schedule. So for instance, if you do a lot of off-roading, slow hill climbing or towing, they recommend more frequent transmission and rear diff fluid service (the PTU for the AWD is tied to the transmission, but I may pair it to the rear diff).
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                    #10
                    Originally posted by AccordWarrior View Post

                    What's Honda's spec for OCIs? I'm surprised they call out specifically for differential service as part of the Maintenance minder. My Tacoma's a 0w-20 truck, no doubt for economy reasons, but I run 5,000 mile intervals at maybe 7-8 months. I don't necessarily have an issue with 0w-20, which has to be specified more for economy than for lubrication IMHO, but I don't like the idea of running an extended interval with thin oil. I'm probably overkilling it with 5,000 mile OCIs, but outside of cost there's exactly zero downside. I do the same thing with our Jeep which runs either 5w-20 or 0w-20 depending on the date of the owners manual.

                    I'm sure a 30wt won't hurt the truck, but if you're under warranty I wouldn't mess with something that could quickly get you denied, either.
                    I realize I didn't quite answer your question.

                    The OCI is variable depending on how you drive and the conditions under which you drive. Basically, the PCM is always watching the variables of engine management and using an algorithm to decide when you need to change it. That is what I thought I was explaining above. Then Honda ties secondary service to the oil changes in order to ensure you aren't going in a bunch of different times. Honestly, the system is absolutely brilliant and has been great on every car we have owned with it.
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