By on September 8, 2011

In a blog item bemoaning the likely imminent death of the Honda Ridgeline, Automotive News [sub] Product Editor Rick Kranz accuses Honda of “abandoning” its funky pickup by failing to update its styling or hardware since it was introduced in 2005. His point seems to be that the Ridgeline was a decent enough niche product that withered on the vine… and the sales numbers certainly seem to support that thesis. But if you compare Ridgeline to other Japanese-brand compact-midsized pickups, you find that Toyota and Nissan saw similar drops in volume over a similar time period… as did practically all non-full-size pickups. So could Honda have done more for the Ridgeline, or was its decline inevitable? While you’re pondering that mystery, consider this: Kranz points to the last sentence of a months-old piece for one of those zombie rumors that never really got any play:

Based on conversations with industry sources, the story said a smaller pickup is under consideration, derived from the CR-V platform.

Presuming less payload and towing capacity than the Ridgeline, I can’t imagine why a smaller pickup based on a front-drive platform would be a more successful product formula for Honda.

On the other hand, a CR-V-based pickup is something that hasn’t been tried for decades in this market… and it wouldn’t compete nearly as directly with the cheap full-sizers that are killing the “compact” (actually midsized) pickups. So, is Kranz’s logic sound, or could a CR-V-based pickup mix up the market? Faith springs eternal for me when it comes to efficient utility vehicles… but what say you?

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78 Comments on “Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: After The Ridgeline, Honda Considering An Even Smaller Pickup?...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Oh Honda, Honda, Honda, what the heck are you doing?

    The Ridgeline was a flop, and the MPG out of your V6 engine in that truck is unforgivable. 15/20 MPG for a midsize truck with a V6?!?

    Some great ideas, but shoot the Pontiac Aztek was born of great ideas also, and not all of them well implemented. Storage well located in the floor of the bed? Genius! Spare tire located in same storage well? Not so smart. Strong tendency of the seals to freeze shut in the winter time? Fail.

    I had always believed that Honda would continue with the Ridgeline until they got it right, but the market is speaking pretty clearly and they are doing the humane thing.

    A CR-V based pickup truck? Epic fail comes to mind. Answering a question no one asked comes to mind. The Subaru Baja comes to mind, and we all know how well that did. GM claims that it under built the Colorado/Canyon because their research indicated that the average truck buyer didn’t need 7,000 pounds of towing capacity and a bed capable of hauling the Saturn V rocket to the launch pad. GM was very correct in that observation, they don’t NEED it, but United States truck buyers WANT it.

    I think Honda needs to focus on the basics. Taking the ugly out of Acura. Building an awesome sports car for the masses like the S2000. Taking the bloat out of the Accord. Making the Civic actually competitive in its segment. Stop phoning it in on product refreshes like the previously mentioned Civic and the Pilot. Invest some serious R&D into improving engines and transmissions, the offerings are getting dated/stale and the competition is out MPGing you.

    A CR-V pickup? Has Crosstour written all over it. Answering a question no one asked.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      There they go again. The socialists shout down the competition that does not serve it’s union cause. Honda no good. Shame on all that drive Honda. The socialists want all to buy union built mediocre cars with big prices.

      I have news for you. The Focus can not run in the same league as the Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        Mercury Mark 75

        What?

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        jimmy: what is your comment actually based on? APaGttH made a pretty scientific analysis, no bashing beyond what Honda deserves for its sins.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        What? You know how this site works. Honda and Toyota hate is the rule. Misinformation rules. Detroit’s finest at work.

        The only sin Honda comitted is giving America a decent car for it’s hard earned money. To union workers, this is criminal activity.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        BWAH HA HA HA…

        Oh JJ99, you’re rants are funny. At least D3 bash a car that deserves it like the Avenger or the Aveo. The new Focus actually is class leading.

        Honda stopped being class leading with the ’02 Accord and MAYBE the current outgoing CR-V. Toyota stopped being class leading with the ’96 Camry and the ’02 Corola. Nissan stopped being class leading when they supersized the Frontier in ’05.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        Focus? Class leading? Transmission. MyTouch. Real winners. Only an auto worker can overlook defects like those.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Jimmy, you are the first man I have ever seen who accused TTAC of being biased against foreign car companies. That is really really wild.

        I admit the tone of the commentary about the domestics has mellowed a lot over the past few years, but I suspect that’s because there is less to bitch about now.

        Anyways, back to the topic at hand:

        Ultimately a CRV pickup would fail because there are two groups that actually drive truck sales. People who need trucks and people who want to look like they need trucks. There aren’t enough practical minded people who need an ultra-light duty truck. Or if there are, they can make do by folding the back seats down on their CR-V.

    • 0 avatar
      kenzter

      The Ridgeline really gets only 15-20mpg?!? I get that out of my ’04 Silverado!
      And on a side note, said Silverado is much more refined in NVH than the 2010 Civic I rode in yesterday.

  • avatar
    Loser

    If someone did a small truck right, like Toyota did back in the 80′s I think it would do well. Todays “small” trucks are not that small. MPG and price make it hard to justify not just getting a full size. I miss my ’85 Toyota P/U.

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      I agree but it has to be a real truck like the old Toyota not a car based design like a CRV derived truck would be.

      • 0 avatar
        troyohchatter

        I am on the fence on this one. On one hand, I say it’s a horrible idea. I currently own a “stripper” 2002 Ford Ranger, bought new, with the only option being A/C. Crank window and vinyl interior are what I have. I throw 1800+lbs of mulch in the thing every year and have banged the hell out of the bed with logs and concrete being hauled here and there. I don’t know if I would want to do that to a CR-V based pickup. Furthermore, a CR-V based P/U would have a more luxurious interior and in my mind less suited to a P/U.

        The other side of the coin is I am not the focus of this product, at least not from a pickup standpoint. But the Ranger isn’t my “driver”. The Ranger is worthless on anything but dry road and downright unsafe in winter. It sits while I drive one of our two CR-V’s. Most times my CR-V is used as a commuter or for two people and a dog to travel. Put a truck cap on the CR-V one row seating pickup and I’d have the perfect vehicle for my daily driver. I rarely used the back seat in my V and wish it would haul more.

        So I guess I am leaning towards this being a pretty good idea.

  • avatar

    This is unlikely to work, unless they can do it on the cheap, relatively speaking, and then sell to a niche.

  • avatar
    detlump

    As a Ridgeline owner, maybe this could work, but the price has to be right, no way more than 25K.

    With regard to the trunk seals freezing comment, I have not had any issues with it in Michigan, despite getting 3 feet of snow the past winter. I would rather wrestle with the lid then crawling under the bed to crank down the spare, as I have seen quite a few people doing on the shoulder. Not fun.

    I think Honda should add the cylinder deactivation system to Ridgeline, and improve the MPG definitely. I don’t think the Frontier V6 does much better. I can get 20 mpg on the highway if I keep a steady speed. Honda did say a couple of years ago a diesel V6 was on the way but then cancelled it. Would have been great for the van, Pilot and Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar
      mjal

      While certainly not a handsome vehicle, the truck If I’m not mistaken is the highest rated pickup truck by Consumer Reports in both performance and reliability. The Honda bashing is alive and well on this site.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Consumer Reports Top Pickup Truck 2005 – 2011

        2005: Honda Ridgeline
        2006: Subaru Baja
        2007: Toyota Tundra
        2008: Chevrolet Silverado
        2009: Chevrolet Avalanche
        2010: Chevrolet Silverado
        2011: Chevrolet Avalanche

        The Honda bashing is alive and well on this site.

        Uh-huh. If you say so.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        2005 Honda $25; GM $40
        2011 Honda $30; GM $0

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Holy crap, man, give me your broker’s number! I want some of those free GM shares. They’re going to be worth a lot more than that also-ran you just posted a couple of months from now.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        PintoFan, the 2005 GM stock is now known as:
        http://www.google.com/finance?q=PINK:MTLQQ
        Sorry, it hit zero earlier this year and is no longer available.

        If you wish to join the few ret*rds that just don’t learn from past lessons, the “NEW” GM shares are now available at $21.87.
        http://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:GM
        That’s a mere 35% loss since its IPO last year. The “also ran” lost 24% in the same period of time.

        Way to go GM. At the rate of losing ONLY 10% more than an “also ran” per year, we won’t need another Obama bailout until well into his second term. Yay!

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      But how do you get to your spare if the bed is loaded?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I’ve asked this question to the Honda faithful. It’s dismissed as an “unlikely” scenario. That point is pretty valid. I don’t see the Ridgeline as a truck of choice for carrying loads of pea stone or wood chips.

      • 0 avatar

        Same way you get to the spare in any car with a trunk.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        Seriously, just look at the demographics for Ridgeline owners. The trucklette is an unlikely choice for blue collar workers.

        My guess is that the typical Honda Ridgeline owner would have AAA or some other automotive service available to change out a flat tire.

        Now in the unlikely event, that cargo bed is fully loaded when a flat occurs on a rainy day, who gets the honor of removing all the cargo, the car’s owner or the service tech?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Pete, that’s fine if all you have in the back is a bicycle or furniture box from Ikea. But if you’re using the bed to haul a load of mulch, gravel, or paving bricks, as God intended pickups to be used, there is no way you can get to that spare. Unlikely scenario or not, I’d curse the heavens and want to burn this thing to the ground if it ever happened.

        As OldandSlow said the Ridgeline is intended for people who really don’t need a truck. I would have little interest in a compact Honda pickup built on the same philosophy.

      • 0 avatar
        Invisible

        Clearly(if intelligent) you put the spare under the back seat, or you place it on top of your load if you are that worried about a flat. Personally I’ve not had a flat tire in YEARS, so I don’t fret.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    No,I don’t think a small truck based on the CR-V is a good idea. Go like every other manufacturer did in the past, build a truck no larger than an S-10/Ranger with a useable payload/towing capacity and improve the mileage to at LEAST the mid 20′s for the highway with either a decent performing 4 or V6.

    The biggest thing with the Ridgeline is its design,epic fail in my view, a truck wannabe is what it looks like even though it’s considered a true truck and take all of the smaller trucks and downsize them to something closer to the current Ranger in size and call it a day.

    The marketing people have got it so we Americans believe we HAVE to have a HUGE, HONKING truck as our daily driver when for most, a truck the size of the Ranger is more than sufficient.

  • avatar
    Dafish

    They did NOT under build the Canyon/Colorado, what they did was put a under powered 5 cylinder motor in it that gets less gas mileage then a full size truck and cost about the same as a full size. They never since enception upgrade the interior. All they would have had to do was change the motor to a DI-V6 with about 210-230hp and I would have bought one. A new 4×4 with 5-cyl at my dealer is $33,000.. a little to much.

    I am one that only needs to pull a small hunting trailer 1/4 of the year…

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Perhaps a 150% scaled-up version of this?

    http://www.honda.co.jp/ACTY/truck/

    Mid-engine, rear or all-wheel drive. 9.5 ft-long bed (1940mm x 1.5)
    Or maybe an 8-ft bed with 1.5-ft long front trunk/crumple zone.

    What’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      mjal

      APaGttH:
      We’re really splitting hairs aren’t we? I just went on the Consumer Reports website and the Ridgeline is the highest rated compact pickup truck with a score of 79, and the second overall rated pickup, with the Avalanche scoring an 80. CR’s reliability for the Avalanche is not even close to the Ridgeline.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        Ouch.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I provided a dispassionate list of Consumer Reports highest rated pickup trucks (fullsize/compact combined) since 2005, the year of the Ridgeline’s release. The only editorial I provided was on your comment about Honda bashing.

        It is really amazing to me how many people get twisted up when they are shown raw facts. Honestly, I don’t give a whole lot of weight to what Consumer Reports has to say in the first place. They’re good for a line item data point in the bigger evaluate everything picture.

        I find it hysterical that I’m labeled a Honda hater when I’m calling out Honda for the sins that many in the industry are calling them out for. The Accord has grown big and soft, the S2000 died with no replacement (why Honda, WHY?!?!), the Civic has been ripped to piece by most sources, including Consumer Reports, the 2012 Pilot refresh is awful, the Crosstour is answering a question no one asked, and the sales figures support that, and finally, Acura, of which in my life I have come ” close to buying on three occasions (all three times came in a very close second in my buying decisions) have become ugly as sin.

        I’m not going to blindly subscribe or follow any car maker as the pinnacle of engineering, especially when they are screwing up. I would never defend a Chevy Cavalier just as I would never defend the Toyota Paseo or a Chrysler Sebring or a early 2000′s C-series Mercedes or a two-oh-slow Jetta or the Subaru Baja. But I’ll sing the praises of the Pontiac G8, a ’96 Camry, the Chrysler 200, an AMG-63, a TDI Jetta, and the WRX (well beyond the boy racer looks).

        If it will make you feel better, I think for the overall package, if you don’t want luxury features, damn hard to beat a Honda Fit.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I provided a dispassionate list of Consumer Reports highest rated pickup trucks

        And as is customary with you, you misinterpreted the findings.

        Allow me to explain this again –

        Consumer Reports does TWO things:

        1. It conducts an owner’s survey about reliability
        2. It buys cars and tests them.

        The owner’s survey determined that the Avalanche gets an “average” reliability rating. That’s the hollow circle at the middle of the reliability scale.

        The staff of the magazine also tested the vehicle. They really liked driving and using it.

        For a car to be “recommended”, it has to do well in the test, but it only needs to get a reliability score of just “average.” But being a top pick is not the same as being the most reliable.

        When CR selects the Avalanche as a top pick, the magazine is NOT claiming that it is the most reliable. On the contrary, it gets an average ranking.

        It is even possible for a highly reliable vehicle to not be recommended if the staff doesn’t like it. As is illustrated by the Avalanche, it is also possible to be recommended or even be a top pick while being just average in reliability. The vehicle testing is separate from the owner’s reliability survey.

        Incidentally, the Avalanche got a bottom ranking in reliability from JD Power: http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/dependability-ratings-by-category/large-pickup/ You’re going to hate this, I know, but the Tundra led that category,

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Now lets look at what the OP wrote…

        While certainly not a handsome vehicle, the truck If I’m not mistaken is the highest rated pickup truck by Consumer Reports in both performance and reliability

        I simply provided a dispassionate list of the Consumer Reports top picks by performance since 2005. The Ridgeline only scored the win in its first year.

        Then the OP wrote an oh woe as me, Honda gets bashed here on TTAC. Why yes, TTAC is quite well known for its Japanese hate, LOL.

        You’ve provided a second data set, congrats! Doesn’t change the fact that my list is accurate and correct, as is yours.

        If reliable was the only meta point in the buying decision of a vehicle, we’d all be driving ’96 Camrys. And as has been pointed out by TTAC, for niche vehicles in particular, the sample size for Consumer Reports could be so small as to be inaccurate or irrelevant. Oh I know you LOVE Consumer Reports. I don’t. Can we please move on.

        It doesn’t change the fact that the Ridgeline never met sales expectations that Honda laid out for it and it is quietly going out with a whimper. It doesn’t change the fact that my list is 100% accurate.

        Oh I know, here comes the arrogant reply. Three, two, one…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I simply provided a dispassionate list of the Consumer Reports top picks by performance since 2005. The Ridgeline only scored the win in its first year.

        I wouldn’t describe taking things out of context and failing to comprehend the point made by the other poster as being “dispassionate”, particularly as it relates to your beloved GM. What the other poster said was:

        “If I’m not mistaken is the highest rated pickup truck by Consumer Reports in both performance and reliability.”

        In this link, CR recommends the Ridgeline as its choice of pickups, not the Avalanche. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/used-cars/cr-recommended/best-and-worst-used-cars/overview/best-and-worst-used-cars.htm

        Admittedly, that link is slightly inconsistent with CR’s magazine scoring, which the Avalanche won by a whopping single point. Not to take away from GM’s win, but a spread of one point (that’s one, as in 1, as in something less than 2) is not exactly a decisive victory for GM or a dismissal of the Honda. At the very least, CR made things confusing by making separate claims in different places.

        As for reliability, the Avalanche is just average. I don’t recall the rankings of all of the various pickups, but I believe that he may be correct about the Honda leading the class in reliability.

        In other words, when Mjal asks, “APaGttH: We’re really splitting hairs aren’t we?”, the answer to his question is obvious: “Yes.”

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Honda could do well with a small pickup. I think the styling of the Ridgeline was among the best of their lineup, so a scaled-down version of that could be nice.

  • avatar
    modemjunki

    It would be interesting to see the market reaction to a truly light-duty pickup in a FWD configuration. With CR-V underpinnings even a part-time AWD is readily available.

    With todays safety regs, nothing is ever going to go back to the size of the tiny pickup VW once sold here in the US (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/where-have-all-the-front-wheel-drive-pickups-gone-crunch-crunch-crunch/).

    I agree with ciddyguy – something with the bed capacity of the current Ranger. Add a reasonably comfortable cab for two (or bench seat for three very close friends), modern underpinnings and decent mileage, it might actually sell.

    And that is, as they say, the rub. It “might sell” or might not, big risk in troubled times.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      How about a full size pickup, based on historical full size standards, not these supersized trucks.

      Being in the market for a used pickup probably in the November/December timeframe, I want a full size truck.

      Why a full size and not an S-10 or ranger? Well, I’ve driven S-10s and I hate them. The seats, the feel of the chassis, the antiquated 4.3 V6, the styling, etc.. I imagine a ranger would be the same, plus I’m not a Ford guy.

      But I am liking the new F150 a lot.

      I’ve driven full size trucks and they feel a lot better.

      If there is one thing Detroit can do well, it’s a full size (truck) BOF rear wheel drive V8.

  • avatar
    Ooshley

    Surely GM (and Ford to a lesser degree) are in the box seat for this niche-market? It comes from down-under, and it is called a Ute!

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I’d rather an El Camino. But I’d rather a truck than an El Camino.

      I like El Caminos and I respect people who drive them, but it is a niche vehicle.

      I’m just not an El Camino (or Ute) type of guy.

      • 0 avatar
        Ooshley

        As a base you get decent engines and RWD. There are and/or have been, dual-cab, higher-riding, etc. Utes.

        There has also been 4WD on previous Holden Commodore platforms – but AFAIK they were only offered in a Wagon (Holden Adventra) and a very limited-edition Coupe (HSV Coupe-4).

        Surely any of that beats a CR-V with a tray out back?

      • 0 avatar
        Ooshley

        Turns out there were some AWD utes. In single and dual-cab. The Short-lived 2005 ‘Holden One tonner Cross 6′ and 2003-2008 ‘Holden Crewman Cross 8′ respectively.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      There is speculation, tea leaf readings, random leaked memos, that indicate, maybe, possibly, remotely, that with the Colorado/Canyon ending production in June of 2012 (thank God) that the Holden Ute could be stateside as an El Camino in 2014 or 2015.

      With Lutz back at GM, I would say the odds got a bit better; but I wouldn’t count on it happening – and I don’t know if the US market would buy.

      Down under many people in the trades use the basic 3.0 V6 version as their work vehicle.

      American’s don’t for the most part use the ability to haul 4X8 sheets of plywood, carry massive payloads or tow 7,000 pound boats – but they sure do want the bragging rights.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I could totally see a Crossroad pick-up (The JDM one not the rebadged Land Rover Series 1). Honda could save money by using the old tooling.

  • avatar

    Oh by the way, Toyota floated a concept of an FWD pickup A-BAT, based on RAV4. They said that they would include it into the line-up of 4G (4.4) in the fashion of Pilot/Ridgeline twins, if there is an interest. Instead, apparently the 4.4 is an EV, RAV4 is going to jump directly to 4.5, and A-BAT is dead, dead, dead. Not sure what the lesson here is, after all Toyota may be wrong. But it is directly related, almost the same thing. Also curiously, A-BAT was a convertible, like Avalanche. I’m sure GM lawers salivated at the perspective of patent suits.

  • avatar
    Advo

    Say a couple or family need two commuter cars. Is there a chance that they might decide that one of them can be a small pickup truck with very good gas mileage instead of a CR-V?

    The lack of sales in the category have proven that it’s not enough to have the style or cargo-carrying convenience of a ‘smaller’ open bed vehicle. There probably needs to be something else a small pickup needs to do well in order to justify getting one. I don’t know how they can produce something that is the same price and passenger/cargo versatility as a small SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      “Is there a chance that they might decide that one of them can be a small pickup truck with very good gas mileage instead of a CR-V?”

      Problem is when more than 2.5 people are transported. Most people could get by with a mini-van for truck-like transport if they were not too lazy to remove the seats.

  • avatar
    flatout05

    OK, I’ll step forward as one Ridgeline owner (and perhaps the only TTAC reader!) who would love a CR-V-based Ridgette. Indeed, I’ve wished out loud for exactly this vehicle. I adore my Ridgeline and vow to drive it at least 250K miles (I’m halfway there), but I often find it just a little too long and a little too thirsty (I get a rock-solid 17mpg in mixed driving).

    I freely concede I’m not a jenn-yoo-wine truck guy, especially since I no longer tow my race car (I did when I first bought the Ridgeline; that was the whole point). No, I’m a suburban-cruise-around-and-carpool guy, but boy, when I’m hauling crap to the dump or race tires to the track, I sure like having a bed rather than an enclosed SUV. Perhaps there are enough like me to justify a Ridgette? Hope so!

  • avatar
    MZ3AUTOXR

    The issue with small pickups (like the Subaru Baja) is that the beds are too small to be of any use when you need to actually use it. I’m not talking about picking up a load of lumber to build a deck. I’ll just rent the home center’s truck for a couple of hours to do that.

    Rather,it’s picking up a half dozen 1×4′s for a small project or transporting that used couch you buy for your kids’ room or even trips to the dump (which in my case means bringing yard waste to the city compost heap.) If you assume that these small truck will have 4 doors, they will end up with four foot long bed, and a narrow one at that. Our Odyssey will do a better job of hauling than any small pickup (yard waste goes into paper landscaping bags.)

    So who else would buy these besides Flatout? I just don’t see value in a utility vehicle that doesn’t have much utility.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    A CRV is about as far away as you can get from a truck so let’s forget about trying to build a PU out of one.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    The defining characteristic of a pickup is its bed, and the Ridgeline’s bed is much too short to be of much use. Even the Dakota four-door pickup has a bed a foot longer than the Ridgeline. A 6 1/2 foot bed is really the minimum. With the tailgate down, it allows hauling 4×8 sheet goods without hanging over the end.

    I’ve never seen a Ridgeline in farm country or hauling heavy loads. In daily use, they’re not getting the abuse most working pickups get, and so the reliability based on user reports should be pretty good. The poor fuel economy is unusual for a Honda. Even my son’s V-8 4WD Dakota got better.

    There’s really no point in Honda going into pickups. That’s not where their strength is. It would just dilute their development work. Unless they can come up with an equivalent of the Toyota Hi-Lux diesel that can be sold in the U.S., they should just leave the pickup market.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    They can’t do it on the cheap. Hell, they can’t do it an expect it to work at all.

    This is what small truck fans need to understand: the small truck market is gone. People who buy trucks are highly conservative (in the they’ll never buy a car-based unibody trucklet) and either very value conscious (in that they see the value of an slightly used F-150 versus a new Ranger/Taco/Whatever) or very much into bigger-is-better.

    Or, to put it bluntly, the cheap compact truck is the sub-10K-manual-diesel-awd-wagon for the redneck crowd, except that unlike manual-diesel-wagons we actually had cars like this and buyers lined up none-deep for them, so the automakers stopped making them.

    This is not Europe or Asia, where congestion, VAT and fuel taxes force the use of Piaggio Apes for the kinds of things Americans do with an F-350 Dually. Honda could make a Fit-based trucklet and sell it for under $10K and North Americans would still fail to beat a path to their door because, well, we just don’t buy vehicles like this.

    That Ridgeline even existed was because Honda could leverage the Oddy/Pilot/MDX platform and get away with economies of scale and the use of flexible production.

    • 0 avatar

      +2

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      Psar, I have a lot of respect for your analysis, but here I suspect that you’ve been blinded by the industry’s conventional wisdom. I can’t claim access to any inside data, but my anecdotal sense is that there is a meaningful untapped market for a subcompact truck — at least out here in the West. Note that I didn’t say compact, which is too close to a big truck in price and fuel economy.

      I’d argue that a major reason for the sales decline of less than full-sized trucks is that they either grew too much or were neglected too long.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        I, too, think that a market exists for such a vehicle. There are still a fair number of VW Rabbit pickups on the road here in the Pacific Northwest, and probably 75% of them are the diesel versions. If somebody introduced such a vehicle (we’re talking stripper model here, crank windows, NO computer screen in the dash, A/C optional, etc) and it was priced right, every auto parts store runner, courier driver, and pizza delivery guy would be driving one. I would expect fuel mileage to be in the 25-35mpg range (higher if diesel) for combined driving.

        But as was well-stated above, the bed size is key – make it as big and as long as possible.

        I doubt it will happen. (Puts tinfoil hat on)It seems that every other developed country in the world can have these type vehicles except for us . . . hmmm.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I doubt it will happen. (Puts tinfoil hat on)It seems that every other developed country in the world can have these type vehicles except for us . . . hmmm.

        This is the gotcha: the rest of the developed (and developing!) world works very differently than North America. Fuel is more expensive and/or more scarce, space is at a premium, wages low and/or taxes higher. Here we can swing a large truck—especially a used one—making the need for a small one unlikely.

        The problem is one of value and cost, really. There’s no real value to enough buyers to make this worth doing, and because there’s not enough potential buyers, the costs don’t work for the manufacturers. You could generate demand by lowering the price, but then you’d need even more volume.

        I’m not saying (except sarcastically, I’ll admit) that no one would buy these, only that no one will buy them in commercially-viable quantities unless something significant changes in our economy.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I gotta back up Psar’s comments. He is dead-on about American vs. European/Asian markets.

        In my industry, packaging, a major customer of the company I used to work for introduced a new product to the U.S that was popular in Europe. They also wanted the same packaging. Fine. Except one little thing: the design they wanted involved 50% waste on a sheet of board! This was because they already had equipment to assemble that particular design. Well, long story short, it cost that customer and us a huge amount of money for very little return on theirs and our part. The product was dropped after a year or so. Lesson learned the hard way.

        I believe the same is true regardless of industry as a whole, not just cars. Of course, there are a few who will adopt and do something new, but never enough to make it profitable.

        Why do you think the U.S. still uses inches and not metrics exclusively? I need to know both systems, and am comfortable with either one, but having to deal with both on a single item is maddening – like cars!

        Like it or not, America stands alone with Britain close by.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      +100 to psarhjinian

    • 0 avatar
      Rada

      So, small trucks have no chance in North America, because the fuel is getting cheaper, wages are getting higher, taxes are getting lower, and there is less congestion? Americans will always drive their F-350s to their McMansions – two for each spouse, actually.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        So, small trucks have no chance in North America, because the fuel is getting cheaper, wages are getting higher, taxes are getting lower, and there is less congestion?

        Compared to Europe or Japan et al, yes. Even if taxes and fuel prices are going up, they’re more than double outside of North America, never mind that fullsize trucks sold here are faster and more efficient every year. So net-net there’s no real push-factor to get people to consider small trucks, not yet.

        It would take a sea change (like, eg, gas spiking to European levels, a federal VAT, a tightening of CAFE beyond what Obama’s administration is pushing) to make small trucks appealing.

  • avatar
    mattc

    I also believe there is a market for a true compact truck, though maybe not Honda’s version. Who would’ve predicted 2 years ago that a V6 F150 would be the hottest selling version of the best selling pickup? The problem with the current compact truck lineup is a) they’re not compact, b) they aren’t much cheaper than full size, and c) they don’t get better fuel mileage. Address the mileage and maybe price and you’d have a winning product. Offer a compact 4×4 pickup that gets 30 mpg on the highway, and you’ll light a fire in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Cosmo123

      …been thinking this for (come to think of it) years now – couldn’t agree more. I was really hoping Mahindra’s offering would be “the match” to light that fire.

  • avatar
    SP

    “On the other hand, a CR-V-based pickup is something that hasn’t been tried for decades in this market…”

    Unless you know some awesome hidden history, the article should probably read “has never been tried”. The CR-V came out 1.4 decades ago, right?

  • avatar
    Dafish

    Here is a picture of the 2013 Colorado

    http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2011/08/2013-chevrolet-colorado-pickup-truck.html

  • avatar
    Suter

    I really wanted to like Ridgeline. It’s great for DIY people who sometimes need to move stuff from Home Depot, never goes off pavement and need to transport 5 comfortably. Or move a motorcycle in a bed. Or transport few mountain bikes and people, etc.

    It has enough power and payload to do it and on the other hand can fit in a garage. I like exterior design + handy features. The ride was OK.

    But…
    1. It’s very expensive for what it is and offers.
    2. The interior just polarized my eyes. I just couldn’t look at it.

    So I ended up with fully loaded Frontier CC that I really like. Although I still like looking on Ridgelines on the streets.

    Keep in mind that Ridgeline’s MPG is no different from what Nissan and Toyota offers in the same class.

  • avatar
    petergun

    So this CR-V based pickup is what again ? Oh yeah, an open-top Element. They cancelled the Element.

    Last year, my father was looking to replace his aged 4th gen 22ER 5 speed 4×4 Toyota Pickup (aka HiLux and now Tacoma), as after almost 20 years, the vehicle simply had too much rust related issues. Given how it wasn’t worth anything, he used the family 2003 Forester as trade in.
    Taco’s seem to be overpriced on the used market, especially with his dream 4×4, V6 and automatic setup (his knees hurt a little much for clutch’n’traffic). New, forget it, out of budget.
    So we looked at used Ridgelines, a vehicle that could do 90% of the things he needed it for, but the fuel economy and his usual runabout of ~1000km during a single active week as a retiree, seemed an awful combination. Briefly he toyed with the idea of a Toyota FJ, but his offroad antics are no longer the primary use and the FJ seems to be intended for a manual tranny.
    So then we looked at the Honda Element, and after single drive of the breadvan-cum-minivan, he found the right compromise. He wanted a specific colour and the wonky-but-effective 4×4 model, so he waited for a deal and got a 2003 Galapagos Green 4×4. He wishes it had the Honda euro 2.2 diesel, like many owners I’m sure. But it tows with aplomb and can fit a stupid amount of gear inside. Mini-minivan indeed.

    Now, why would they cancel this utility vehicle and assume a “pickup” would do better ? Seriously?

    PS funny how 4/5 Element owners I’ve met are retirees and how the remaining 1/5 are often 30 somethings offloading damn fine bicylces.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    Can I just get a Kei Truck federalized instead?

  • avatar
    JK43123

    If it’s not 30K gets 25+ mpg and has some unique features like the trunk in the bed, I would buy one. It might work.

    John

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    As much as I like my Cr-V, I mostly bought is because it’s the only car available with a rear seat that can carry three adults. (no, I don’t call Rams or Avalanches cars, and I can’t afford (or have time to) run a B-body Caprice as a daily driver, not mention parking it anywhere…)Taking away the rear seats in CR-V would make it kinda pointless, and still not a decent replacement for the Ridgeline (which was never sold by Honda in Norway, even if many imported them privately) Most pickup trucks in Norway are American mid or full-size trucks btw, because of special tax rules for big ‘company owned’ trucks.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    In other than North America a smaller CR-V based pickup could probably do well.

    Honda would have to do something like Ford does with the Transit Connect, build it in a cheaper location and import it with fake seats to avoid the “chicken tax”.

    See if there is potential, if gas keeps on going up I think there could be. There’s a lot of Connects out there.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    The epitome of small trucks was the ’89-’95 Toyota Hilux. 2WD, Xtra Cab, factory sport stripes, 22R-E and 5-speed. A good looking, reliable, efficent workhorse. If Toyota built that truck today they’d never be able to keep up with demand. Please do it, Toyota.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    They can call it the CRV Sport Trac, and watch it fail miserably.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    As a 2010 Ridgeline owner, I need the cargo and towing capacity of the current platform (4,400 lb boat to tow). So, I’m not the demographic on the CR-V based pick up.

    This constant mpg discussion about the Ridgeline, however, is starting to piss me off because I own one and put gas in it – so I know the reality…

    Here’s the REAL scoop…The Ridgeline is rated at 15 city/20 mpg highway. I have a heavy to medium heavy foot. I live in Western NY with a lot of variable weather. I get 16 mpg in real city/suburban driving. I get 22 mpg without fail on lightly loaded, mostly highway trips. I get 20 mpg on the same trip with an ATV in the bed. I get 14.5 mpg on the same trip pulling the 4,400 lb boat (a 22 ft Glastron with a 5.0L V8 and one HEAVY a*s EZ Loader trailer).

    The bottom line: My friends with late model V8 Chevys and F150 Fords simply DO NOT get this mileage day in and day out. Plus the Ridgeline is far better riding and handling than body on frame trucks – simply easier to live with each day. The Ridgeline is a niche vehicle…but as noted by many, the people that buy them, like them…

  • avatar
    bruinalltheway12

    I Would love for Honda to Build a compact “urban” truck, I think a truck maybe more what the element had going for it would be better than the crv though, suicide door cabin seating four with a fuel efficient 4 cyl. I think that a rugged material selection would also be preferred to a posh crv styled interior. As a younger guy, The element was very apealing and functional, but young people couldn’t neccessarily afford them, now as that younger generation gains better financial position, Honda kills off the element? The ridgleline was appealing as an alternate to the battleship truck offerings of the big three, yet it kinda missed what I think the niche market really is: a smaller truck similar to those built in the early 90′s mazda B2000, Ford Ranger, etc. Those trucks were fun to drive, park and were fuel efficient. Then the whole segment had been killed off, ignored, or just ridiculously up-sized, the only true “mini-truck” 1/4 ton left was the ranger and it was the same as it was from 1993?, Why no overhaul or redesign during that time, only changing headlights? I hope Honda builds not only a compact truck but maybe a platform with a variety of “box” configurations, trunk with box similar to current ridgeline, fold=down sides (like the old VW van-trucks, window capped box (updated element with removable top similar to the old blazer/broncos, and even a panel truck configuration. I know these would be unique and they could also spawn a revival of aftermarket/dealer accessory market for mini=trucks, As someone whose isn’t hauling gravel, drywall sheets, and quads all day long, bring in on, those who need the american workhorse, don’t worry theres still going to be F-150′s with step bars, backup sensors, reverse cameras, and stepladders to see into the box. One last thing if honda does decide on building a smaller truck, please let the designers/engineers have some fun and leave all the bean counters out of it. If its successfully executed the sales will speak for themselves. This way honda can bring back some of that swagger I think they have lost over the last decade!!


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