Honda Ridgeline:

2019 Honda Passport Fills Gap in Honda’s XSUV Lineup

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Honda PassportPassport Fills Excess Capacity at Honda’s Lincoln Alabama Plant  Honda realized it had a gap in its crossover SUV lineup. They were losing customers who wanted mid-size XSUVs (crossover sport utility vehicles) but did not want seven passenger capacity.They estimate they have lost at least 35,000 sales to competitors every year they did not have a competitive 5-passenger, two-row crossover SUV in their product mix.  Hence the all new 2019 Honda Passport.

Derivative of Popular Pilot Crossover SUV  Honda’s usual methodological approach led to the development of the all new Passport – a five-passenger derivative of the popular Pilot 7-passenger XSUV.

In terms of big SUV programs, Honda has taken a very efficient approach. Think of the 2019 Honda Passport as a Pilot from the C-Pillar forward. Passport’s wheelbase is equal to the Pilot’s. Losing the third row seat allowed Honda to reduce the rear overhang and adopt sportier styling in the rear quarters and rear end. The rear quarter window differentiates the Passport from the Pilot in the sideview.  This means Honda designed and tooled up a new roof, new quarter panels, new liftgate, new rear quarter glass and liftgate glass.  The interior is essentially the same as the Pilot for the first two rows and instrument panel.

From the front, styling cues like a black textured grille and slightly more macho grille texture also differentiate the Passport from Pilot. Ground clearance is increased by 0.8 inches to provide more ground clearance for off reading.

Passport Very Competent Off-Road  Off-roading in an XSUV? Hah! Interestingly XSUV-makers have been trying to prove their off-road chops for a couple of years now. Honda even showed Pilot’s capabilities in a moderately tough off-road course in Southern California.

Proving Passport’s capabilities brought Honda to Moab Utah and the Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa. Nestled along the Colorado River and below the towering buttes of Eastern Utah, this was an outstanding choice for demonstrating the dynamic capabilities of the Passport.

Leaving Sorrel River Ranch, the group of seventeen identical silver Passports soon arrived at the off road trails. It had snowed and rained a bit the preceding night so the track promised to be challenging. Following a lead Passport, the silver convoy variously crawled over rock ledges, waded through muddy pits, or sped through twisty dirt paths in the Arches National Park. The capability of Passport’s AWD system was quickly proven. Even the most difficult challenges were not a concern. You quickly learned that the right way to control the Passport through a slippery curve was to give it more accelerator rather than backing off. Total fun! Totally capable.

Are there areas where a hard-core off-roader will not be satisfied with the 2019 Honda Passport?  Yes.  It lacks a couple of off-road technologies its facing competitors have like hill descent control.  It does have a terrain management system Honda calls the Intelligent Traction Management.  Terrain management can tailor traction, performance and drivability to any weather condition or surface condition.  Passport’s system includes special settings for snow, mud and sand.

It does not appear that Honda needs to fear any of its facing competition other than the Jeep Grand Cherokee in off-road situations. The competition Honda identified for Passport were: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Toyota 4Runner (a real SUV) and Grand Cherokee.

Who will buy the 2019 Honda Passport?  Honda perceives these people to be younger and more affluent than the folks opting for the “more mature” seven-passenger versions.  These could be Millennials wanting a more serious XSUV than Honda’s very popular CR-V. These also could be empty nesters no longer needing or wanting a three-row, seven passenger vehicle.

Honda’s main challenge may be finding enough production capacity for its Passport in its Alabama assembly plant. The Lincoln, Alabama plant also produces the Pilot (2018 sales = 159,615), Ridgeline pickup (30,592) and Odyssey Minivan (106,327). Lincoln has a capacity of 340,000 vehicles. Honda sold almost 297,000 units from Lincoln in 2018.  They moved the Acura MDX from Lincoln to East Liberty, Ohio at its latest major change.  MDX sold 56,000 units in 2018.  So, it looks like Honda can sell between 40,000 and 50,000 without any major changes to Lincoln.  Honda, however, has been known eke out small capacity gains from plant adjustments.  AutoPacific’s Industry Analysis office expects more than that from Passport in the coming years.

Job 1 for the Passport was on December 6, 2018. Sales begin in February 2019.  #hondapassport #2019passport


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Genesis G90 Luxury Car Sets New Satisfaction Record

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Source:  George PetersonG90 Satisfies its Owners to the Max  Launching a new brand with an all new car is a huge challenge.  Launching in the luxury space is even more of a challenge.  Hyundai, the top Korean manufacturer,  launched its Genesis brand in late 2015.  The 2017 Genesis G90 Luxury Car followed in 2016.  Owners of the new Genesis G90 have rated their satisfaction with their car.  Their ratings have the G90 achieving the all-time highest score in AutoPacific’s 2017 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Hyundai has established a new benchmark with the Genesis G90 in its first year out.

Most vehicles are well-made today.  The key is in the execution.  Is the vehicle intuitive to use?  Are the electronics easy to understand?  Is the powertrain smooth and seamless?  Is the interior quiet and comfortable?  Is the dealership experience special?  For the G90, the execution is excellent. Excellent car.  Excellent experience with the dealer.  This is from a Korean manufacturer that just began building its quality mojo in 1999.  Job well done.

Satisfaction Results Distributed Across Segments  The rest of the industry has not been standing still.  All major automakers have at least some design and engineering capabilities in the United States.  Winning vehicles show product design that caters to American tastes.  Winning vehicles also show that the sales organizations are listening to their customers to provide a satisfying sales experience.

The top brand in the satisfaction research is Lincoln closely followed by Cadillac and Genesis.  The top popular brand is General Motors’ GMC truck brand.

There are twenty-three segments in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Eight were won by American brands.  Seven were won by Japanese brands.  Four were won by Korean brands. Four were won by European brands.

Nissan is the top brand with five category wins.  Kia is second with three.

Only one American CAR won its class.  The Dodge Challenger is the top ranked in the Sporty Car category.  The other nine car categories were won by Japanese, Korean and European brands.  Seven of the eight awards won by the American brands are in truck and SUV categories.

One surprise is that the Nissan Titan won the light duty full size pickup truck award.  The new Titan was a dark horse in a race including the vaunted aluminum Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet, GMC and Ram half-ton pickups.  Another interesting result is in the Compact Pickup category.  The Honda Ridgeline handily won top spot.  While “real” truckers disdain the Ridgeline’s small pickup bed (that is integral with its body) and plush ride, Honda has provided a pickup that is luxurious and quiet like a SUV but with adequate pickup capability.  The “trunk” in its pickup bed is a great idea.


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2010 Honda Ridgeline Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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Hon_10_Ridgeline.jpgRidgeline Wins 2010 VSA Honda Ridgeline wins AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for compact pickup trucks. Its highest ratings (4.5 or higher on a 5.0 point rating scale) were for overall satisfaction, seating capacity, ease of loading and unloading cargo, vehicle reputation, brand reputation, feeling safe while driving, safety features, and overall quality.
Ridgeline Tops in Satisfaction For 24 of 48 Attributes Overall, Ridgeline was rated tops in twenty-four of forty-eight attributes. In addition to those noted above, Ridgeline wins the class comfort and convenience areas like rear seat comfort (since all are double cabs/crew cabs), interior fabrics and materials and interior styling, It also wins in other practical areas like cargo space and capacity, braking, handling and ride. Honda’s reputation for durability/quality/reliability follows through to the Ridgeline with Ridgeline owners giving the vehicle top ratings.
Ridgeline is also tops in important value categories – value for the money and anticipated resale value.
Ridgeline is a Tough Act to Follow Among compact pickups, Ridgeline is a class act. Given its unique unit body construction no one else in the class has or is likely to have it is a tough act to follow.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.


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PickupTrucks.com and AutoPacific Announce the Most Significant Trucks of the Decade

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PickupTucks.com and AutoPacific have taken a look at all the new trucks sold in the past 10 years and made their picks for the most significant trucks of the decade. The trucks that made the list introduced cutting edge technologies and pushed the segment into new territory.
“Despite the economic challenges of the past two years, it’s hard not to look back at the last ten years without calling it the decade of the pickup truck,” said PickupTrucks.com editor Mike Levine. “Sales of full-size pickups hit 2.56 million units in 2004 and Ford’s F-Series trucks remain the nation’s best-selling vehicles, 33 years in a row.”
Though there are many trucks that had a significant impact in the last decade, it’s clear that the 2009 Ford F-150 earned the title of “Most Significant”.
“On balance, we thought the 2009 Ford F-150 was the most significant pickup of the last decade,” said Jim Hossack, vice president of consulting for AutoPacific. “It sells in high volume, owners like it and its body, chassis and powertrain are all first rate. Features abound, and there are more models, series and options than can be counted. It’s a good looking truck and suitable for the widest possible range of tasks and uses.”
After the jump are those trucks deemed most significant, in no particular order.


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Toyota A-BAT Concept – Toyota Makes a Prius Pickup?

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Toyota revealed their new ‘Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck’ (or A-BAT for short) at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. It’s not a smaller Tacoma. Think of it more like a small Toyota Ridgeline. It’s based on a unitized platform and swallows an inline 4 cylinder engine with Toyota’s Synergy Hybrid Drive.

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Concept
No, the A-BAT was not designed in the dark by Avalanche and Ridgeline ex-patriots. The A-BAT was developed by the TMS Advanced Product Strategy group and Calty. Kevin Hunter, president of Calty Design Research Inc. had this to say:
“We’ve taken Toyota’s truck heritage to a different level by envisioning a vehicle capable of maneuvering the suburbs as well as dirt roads. This compact truck is as comfortable for long commutes as it is for road trips. It can accommodate outdoor toys and home improvement supplies. Plus customers benefit from the hybrid powertrain’s low emissions and fuel economy.”


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Stuck to the Dealer's Floor – Inventory Numbers Tell the Story

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Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.


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Dodge Rampage Explores Possible Future Trucks

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Rampage Concept Takes On Chicago
One of the most interesting concepts at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show was the Dodge Rampage pickup truck. As an increase in trucks for personal use, versus commercial or work use, caused a boom in truck sales this century, some are looking to where the future is for these nontraditional truck buyers. Though Ford’s Explorer Sport Trac was ahead of GM’s midgate-equipped full-size Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT and Hummer H2 SUT, the Ford was effectively an Explorer with an open cargo area, while the GM system truly expanded functionality. Subaru‘s Baja fits in there somewhere, though too small and lightweight to really play well with trucks. Then the Honda Ridgeline arrived for 2006, winning both Truck of the Year and honors from both Motor_Trend and a group of North American automotive journalists, though sales have not quite met expectations. There are now six products of this type on market, competing in several different truck segments (or in SUV segments, depending on your perspective). But in the final analysis, think of Rampage as a Honda Ridgeline with a HEMI.

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Dodge took a crack a developing their own truck-plus-SUV concept for the 2006 Chicago auto show, and AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were on hand to see it. We left before the public got a chance to see the concept, but industry buzz around the show was positive. We think the truck looked terrific, and appreciate Dodge’s ability to keep its clear personality and flavor in varied vehicle types. Alongside the Rampage in Chicago were the Dodge Nitro and Caliber SRT-4, both with aggressive and strong Dodge personalities as well.
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Honda Civic and Ridgeline Win More COTY Honors

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New vehicles from American Honda have swept the 2006 North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards. The all-new Honda Civic won the Car of the Year Award adn the Ridgeline Sport Utlity Truck won the Truck of the Year Award. The Civic has been on sale since late Fall 2005 and Ridgeline was introduced in Spring 2005. Both are 2006 models.
These awards mimic Car and Truck of the Year Awards by Motor Trend magazine announced earlier.
The new Civic replaces what may be the most lackluster Civic of all time. The Civic had devolved into a typical econobox that sold on the basis of its stellar image and name, not because it was the hiighly desirable Civic of the past. The new Civic corrects that. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific analysts rate the Civic as one of the best small cars on the road today… aspirational, exciting, and fun to drive.

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The Ridgeline has not sold up to the expectations that Honda announced when the truck was introduced. Having slightly weird styling and being based on the Odyssey minivan platform, the Ridgeline is a great driving pretend truck. Full of innovative ideas that impressed the Car of the Year judges, Ridgeline deserves to succeed. It has not sold up to expectations likely due to its relatively high price point… substantially higher than “real trucks” like the Ford F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado.
American Honda may use the early lack of success of the Chrysler Pacifica as a case study. Pacifica was overpriced when it was introduced. People did not know what kind of vehicle it is. The idea that Pacific was a “sports tourer” did not mean anything to anybody. But Chrysler played around with its positioning and Pacifica now sells in respectable volumes.
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It’s interesting that Honda’s press release announcing its achievement is pretty matter-of-fact. Ho-hum.


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2006 Honda Ridgeline Wins Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award

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In an sweep of Motor Trend’s 2006 Car and Truck of the Year Awards, Honda has achieved a first. No other manufacturer has won both in the same year. VehicleVoice [(http://www.vehiclevoice.com) & (http:/.vehiclevoice.com)] has been tracking both Honda vehicles since their intro and both are special. The Ridgeline, while not a “real” truck to real trucker, has many innovative features that make traditional pickups and SUTs look like “old-think”. Similarly, the hybrid-looking 2006 Civic sets a new standard for aspirational mainstream small car design.

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Torrance, Calif. 12/20/2005 — The 2006 Honda Ridgeline earned Motor Trend magazine’s prestigious 2006 “Truck of the Year” award, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. The Ridgeline joins the all-new 2006 Honda Civic as this year’s recipient of Motor Trend’s “Car of the year” award, marking the first time ever that a manufacturer has won both honors in the same year.
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Since its introduction in March of 2005, the Ridgeline has re-defined the mid-size truck segment through its innovative and exclusive new features. Designed to meet the needs of a growing population of consumers purchasing trucks to support their active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles, the Ridgeline delivers a proportional mix of overall truck capability, towing performance, ruggedness and value in a fun-to-drive vehicle built around Honda’s standards for reliability, safety and performance. The Ridgeline was the first-ever 4-door pickup to receive the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-star safety rating, the highest safety rating possible, for both frontal and side impact crash test performance. It also had the distinction of achieving the best rollover resistance rating of any pickup ever tested by NHTSA. All Ridgeline models are equipped with a long list of standard comfort and convenience features, including the most comprehensive list of standard safety equipment in its class.


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