• Ridgeline vs. Pioneer: Ultimate Honda Road Trip into the Desert that Got Rained Out (Video)

    2018 honda ridgeline pioneer 4x4 road trip comparison
    Honda Ridgeline vs Honda Pioneer (Honda Road Trip!)

    What do a Honda Ridgeline and a Honda Pioneer side-by-side have in common? They are both part of our recent road trip, and they are both about fun. This is not just any road trip. We planned a camping trip to the beautiful Moab, Utah – which is synonymous with off-roading and camping.

    The Honda Pioneer SXS 1000-5 is an off-road machine that is ready to tackle any terrain with one exception. The Pioneer is no road legal in Colorado, our home base. This is where the Honda Ridgeline comes in. This midsize pickup has more than enough towing capacity to transport the Pioneer over the 350 miles we had to travel. (The well optioned side-by-side weighs about 1,600 lbs). The Ridgeline is also spacious enough for us, our camping gear, camera gear, and supplies for this truly great road trip and adventure.

    We set out for Moab expecting hot desert temperatures and endless off-road fun. We wanted to find out how the Ridgeline does as a road trip vehicle, how it tows over some of the highest and steepest highways in the country, how efficient it is, and how it does in Moab.

    We accomplished every goal with the exception of camping the first night. We were met by heavy rains and relatively cold temperatures. The campsite we reserved had completely washed out.

    Check out the entire road trip and adventure here!

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    63 thoughts on “Ridgeline vs. Pioneer: Ultimate Honda Road Trip into the Desert that Got Rained Out (Video)

    1. Ridgeline, 1500 payload. Not good. But 50 percent better than 1000 for many Raptors. And with all the money you saved, you can just tow another side by side that is better off-road than Raptor and also has 1200 lbs payload. Amazing. And the Ridgeline is easier to park at the mall. Although it helps a lot of Raptor owners get their much needed exercise to have to walk farther in the parking lot.

      1. Yeah but a 3500 Dually has 6000 lb payload and is better off-road than the Ridgeline. You can also buy an old used suburban to tow with and spend the money you saved on a Miata for track days at the local road course… What is your point?

          1. Longboat – – –

            I realize you were being a bit “snarky” here, and of course a dually can’t make it up Gold Mine Hill because of tree clearances, — but not because of traction, IF the same traction situations occurred “out in the open”.
            But I should add: a previous time TFLT tried to take a Ridgeline up Gold Mine Hill (in the winter), it couldn’t make it because it overheated (In the cold!), right? Or is my failing memory failing me (^_^)…


            1. @Bernie – i dont know that I was being ‘snarky, as I was truly curious if TFL had ever taken a dually up that trail.

              However, a more relevant point is that a common complaint of off-roaders is when a vehicle is too big, hence the popularity of Jeep Wrangled and Tacoma for off-road, and size is a major complaint against the Raptor. Some of you guys like to nitpick little things, and thats what i am doing here.

              It is one thing to say the Ridgeline is not a good off-roader compared to a Tacoma, but it IS quite a stretch to say a full-size dually is better. That is pure conjecture and has absolutely no proof to back it up. Bear in mind that I am not defending the Ridgeline here…i am just trying to prevent mis-information and the generation of myths. There are way too many myths being perpetuated in the truck world, and way too many people believing them at face value.

            2. @Longboat – Lol. The entire point was that picking winners based on payload is silly. No one attacks (shouldn’t anyway…) a Wrangler Rubicon for having less payload than many side-by-sides.
              I totally agree that picking any sort of winner without establishing an exact setting and basis for the comparison is useless.

            3. Longboat – – –

              L: “… I was truly curious if TFL had ever taken a dually up that trail.”

              C-mon, Longboat. Not buying it. If you know about Gold Mine Hill, then you watched TFLT’s videos of trucks trying to fight their way up the sometimes narrow Gold Mine Hill trail.

              Roman, Andre, and Nathan simply could not risk damaging the bulging fenders of a dually in the section that Andre called “Threading the Needle”. They depend on having a good relationship with delayer (and others) who offer to provide these vehicles.

              Here is an example of the Chevy HD work truck that they tested in May under favorable conditions. Watch the section of the video between 3:18 and 3:28 minutes, and tell me if you think that the increased width of a dually would squeeze through between the trees, even WITHOUT any side-wobble or slippage:

              Curious about that? Really? (^_^)…


            4. @Bernie, couldn’t say for sure, as I couldn’t see the other side of the truck clearly. Keep in mind that i watch all of these vids on my phone.

              However, it does prove my point about size having an advantage off-road! 🙂

      2. Oh great. An fun article about camping and a couple of Honda’s and the first comment is already an fabois bash of Ford.

        The Ridgeline definitely has a smaller base of buyers but it definitely fills a void in the market. It offers good utility, great room for a family and AWD to make typical snowy weather much easier to negotiate.

      3. People like Adams crack me up. The Ridgeline is designed for people who need the utility of a truck but not the size or fuel economy. I think it fills that niche quiet well. Some of us however, ^^^^ can’t wait to bash other brands that aren’t even included in this article. Why people try to complain about the Raptor’s payload blows my mind. The Raptor is a performance truck not a work truck. Its like saying a Camry is better than a Mustang because it has more room for passengers. You’re argument is silly.

        1. The ridgeline gets a whole 1MPG more then full size pickups, and it is within 5% the size. It is one inchthinner, a few inches shorter, ece. It is a fullsize truck.

          If a consumer wants a small truck, they buy a tacoma or nissan frontier, or an old ranger/s10. The ridgeline isnt small.

    2. This is a perfect example of why I don’t think you should use the trip computers for the Ike tests. You have no way of knowing if it’s completely lying to you.

      I vote you should fill before you start the run and refill after and hand calculate. It may only be 20 miles on the odometer between fills but it will level the playing field and not give one truck an unfair advantage over others just because the trip computer is inaccurate at small distances

      1. I have been saying this for almost, well maybe 2 years now and I get no comment. You can still do the computer readout anyway. But fuel mileage should be based on up and down as an average.

        1. I should say they have to come down I hear as there is no station at the top, so fill up after the gauntlet loop is complete.

      2. Chris from Honda PR here. While the trip computer MPG is not meant to be 100% accurate, it was possibly closer than portrayed in this video. Outside of lab equipment, the best way to measure MPG is using the method shown in this video BUT, you have to fill at exactly the same pump at the beginning and the end of the drive. Different pumps cut off at different points, changing the amount of fuel in the tank when it decides it’s full. Thus, the math they did may not reflect the actual amount of fuel used on this trip.

        1. I agree with that and I often strongly predict the tank cut offs vary with trapped air at times. I have had pumps cut off 10 times or more before actually being topped up and some where they just cut off and the tank overspills. Wonder if the trailer tilted the tank as well vs them filling up before the trailer was hooked. It also matters as to what the slope is at the pump, tilt the vehicle and the air pockets might shift in the neck of the gas tank fill line.

        2. @ChrisHondaPR:
          I checked out a Ridgeline the other night; the fit and finish were outstanding and on par with the ’12 Highlander I have.

    3. I’m not sure about the point of this article. Usually TFL reports on new developments within the truck world, or gives a real world review of a truck. In this case, we get a story about how a faux pickup truck tows a 1600lb side by side from colorado to utah. How is that news? A trailer hauling this vehicle is within the towing capacity of a subaru outback wagon, for example.

      1. I enjoyed the video as it was real-world. They planned a camping trip, plans got ruined based on factors they couldn’t control, they still made the most of it and did some easy trail running. They proved the Ridgeline could handle average back roads. The “trunk” is an amazing feature that was incredibly useful on their trip.

        Yes, they could have made the same trip in an outback wagon, but that doesn’t take anything away from the versatility of the Ridgeline.

        I still think it looks terrible and wouldn’t own one in it’s current version. However, add a little aggression to the bodywork and some better approach and departure angles (for cosmetic reasons) and this could appeal even to me.

        1. I was going to say the same thing, this really showcases the Honda. I have my gripes with it, short bed, low power, low clearance and low bed height but the low body clearance really kills it for me, I would be too scared to damage it and the suspension needs more travel for off road chops. I think Troverman is just grumpy. Otherwise this Honda did well for what it is, didn’t overheat on the mountains and it gets good mpg towing, that extra storage is nice in the rear and the composite bed is better than aluminum or steel in my opinion

      2. Towing 3000 lbs including trailer. Honda ridgeline = subaru outback? C’mon now be serious. Honda should have increased the ground clearance though.

    4. I love when TFL goes off on different subjects. Just like this article. Showing some real world out door fun with trucks and toys. I have been hoping for a few more articles on big green, rusty boy or dodgzilla but this is still good. Beautiful country out there and it sure did look like a ton of fun. Rain and all.

    5. Couple other points on the Ridgeline:

      Payload – I am pretty sure it is best in class for mid-size crew cab trucks, and better than many half-ton trucks, specifically many RAM half-tons, and crew cab Fords with same options as Ridgeline (unless you get a specific payload package). The Ridgeline will also carry a Pioneer 500 UTV.

      Ground clearance – yes, it could be better, but are you willing to give up MPG for it? It is easier to lift a vehicle than lower it. For $500, you can add a 1.5″ lift that will give you the same ground clearance as a Tacoma. I drive a number of half-ton and 3/4-ton 4×4 pickups at work….their ground clearance is 7″, less than the Ridgeline. Just sayin… 🙂

      1. A lift will not increase minimum ground clearance. Never has and never will. You can gain ground clearance from bigger tires and can increase approach and departure angles but not ground clearance. Toyota under represents the ground clearance on the Tacoma, which is measured at the lowest hanging point. I cannot find a place on my truck under 10 inches anywhere and many others have reported the same. With on size up tires I am at 10.75. The Ridgeline is at an “optimistic ” 7.9 but I do agree there are older trucks running around with the same. The Ridgeline is a versatile vehicle but there is no need to dream about it matching a Taco off road.

        1. @Moondog – the Ridgeline’s ground clearance is raised with a lift kit, because the low point is not the differential. It is not lifting the body from the chassis like some lift kits do on traditional BOF trucks.
          The lift kit raises the whole body/chassis combination on the Ridgeline.

          Btw, i wasn’t comparing Ridgeline to Tacoma for off-road capabilities, just saying that GC can be equivalent. GC is important off-road, but can be important on-road also (deeper snow, running over road kill, curbs, etc.).

          1. Gotcha Longboat and forgot about the differential issue on the Honda. Mea Culpa. I tell you, I’m not sure what the numbers are but I’m seeing a lot of these. I think the truck being hurt the most by the Ridgeline is the GMC. Honda out “comforts” them and to me even offers more luxury. Most buyers that would buy the Canyon are now starting to cross shop the Honda and to me Honda is winning that battle (easily). On another tangent, I think the GMC brand has lost its way. I hate to keep pounding the GM marketing department but they are doing an awful job with one stupid commercial after the other. Honda has offered this Ridgeline first and foremost as a Honda and they tout its special features with an “oh by the way” it’s capable too and it is working and working well. Hats off to Honda because they are already ahead of GMC if I recall the numbers correctly.

            1. Agreed Moondog, I think GM will need to make some major improvements, especially with updated Frontier and Ranger coming, and other possible mid-size trucks.

              I bet Toyota will put the Taco on a shorter refresh timeline, also.

      2. Longboat, I quote you.

        “Ground clearance – yes, it could be better, but are you willing to give up MPG for it?”

        And I have questions too..

        Is it safe to look at pictures of the sun? or…or, this other one relates,

        Would you rather drink warm beer to save on hydro or cold beer?…wait…wait I got another one,

        Can fat people go skinny dipping?…ok not related but I do have one more smart question,

        Would you rather save fuel and not have air conditioning or use fuel and have air conditioning.

        1. Rambro, put the beer down and go for a walk! LOL. How are you, my Canadian friend? Any chance we will see Jeep and or Ford nail their midsize offerings or will we get middling engine choices?

          1. I am really Jeep listened to social media and put a bigger motor. They might be the only ones to do so. Again Ford? No way in my opinion, they are to bias and will ignore the demand for a better power plant in a midsize, they hold that 1/2 ton crown and they don’t want to take sales away from that. They will be chasing a market of buyers that need small and willing to suffer for it, using a low HP motor, those are the only buyers they are interested in.

            1. I don’t see leafs, but simmilar bar , like RAM Multilink suspension has, so perhaps coils or even air ride.

            2. Jeep will also lose all comparisons to other midsize because, being based on the wrangler, it will have many ride and handling tradeoffs the regular public won’t be willing to accept

            3. Like I said, it looks like rear coils , or Air Ride II. Jeep with aftermarket accessories and offroad group of people has no competition.
              My RAM with multilink handles on the pair with any SUV.

    6. @Longboat, I am starting to think Toyota is too arrogant to change anything. They are still trying to convince us drum brakes are better and that we really don’t need a power seat. I like my Tacos but I’m a bit miffed with them over the howling rear diff issue. Toyota needs to be pushed and from what I have seen I think they are about to get it.

      If Ford will put decent engines in the Ranger they are going to instantly be number 2. If they put the sweet 2.7TT and maybe drop a Ranger Raptor then Toyota is going to have its hands full. I also suspect the Jeep truck will give the Taco a run off road. The Ranger truck has already been spied in a regular cab, supercab, and crew cab so I think they are going to come out swinging. They have the engines to lead this market for years to come but I’m not sure they would chance taking away from the mighty F-150. After all. The midsize truck buyers have been getting “new” 25 year old truck platforms for many years now. The fullsize market is leap years ahead but for those like me that prefer the smaller trucks, we buy what we can get.

      I think Honda planned for all of this. I think they new they would need to be different and they were. They will be fine in all of this. They are letting their Honda be Honda and if you want something different they have you covered.

      The third generation Tacoma, as much as I like it, is still more of a 2.5 gen. I think Toyota will wait and see just how good the Jeep and Ford trucks are and then act accordingly. Then again, it is very clear that Akio Toyoda is a car man all the way. If he had his way we would all be driving a Corolla or Camry. He begrudgingly gave us more Sport utes because it is basically all we want now. He has let the Sequoia, a once very fine SUV, basically disappear from sales charts. The Tundra has not had a significant update since 07 and honestly the Tacoma is way too similar to the second gen that started in 05. Toyota will remain the off road King and it wouldn’t surprise me if they just keep giving small updates here and there and rely on owner loyalty to keep them on top. If they do they will soon be looking up to the Ranger, which will be the top selling truck.

      As for the GM midsize trucks, I credit them for resurrecting the competition in the market. However, GM has an eerie ability of coming come out with a new vehicle that instantly looks dated. The Canyon has always been that truck for me. It looks dated. I think they are slated for a redesign in 2020ish and we will have ourselves a very competitive midsize market. The GM midsize trucks are upper fair to lower good for a midsize but there is much room for improvement.

      Nissan sat on its laurels far longer than Toyota. They misread the market and thought it was dead. They were wrong. The problem for them is that their global offering (Robert, feel free to chime in) is too soft for the NA market and there is no easy fix for that issue. In fact, the global Mitsubishi may be a better offering for our market so don’t be surprised if your next Frontier is a rebadged Mitsubishi Triton. Nissan makes good trucks so they will figure it out but they are robbing people with their current Frontier.

      Jeep. If this is a Jeep and not some man badged Fiat then I’m thinking off-roaders everywhere will rejoice. Jeep knows how to off-road and they can put out a truck to hang with the Taco. They a,so have some good engines to choose from as well. The big issues for them will be nailing the launch. They need to get it right or else a bad rep will plague them and they will be maybe a 5th best seller behind the Taco, Ford, Chevy, and Nissan.

      1. @Moondog,
        I think the mid-size market will continue to grow, because the full-size trucks are just continuing to get too big, for many people. A mid-size truck today is not far off from a full-size truck 20 years ago.

        Full-size trucks are great, if you have room to park them. For example, too big for my garage, and dont want to park it outside because i have pine trees (sap) and the hit on resale value by parking outside. Smaller trucks are just way more convenient.

        If smaller trucks keep getting more popular, I can see many mfrs introducing smaller unibody trucks based off of their SUVs. I would like to see Honda bring out a mini-Ridgeline based off the HTC. It wouldn’t have much capability, but could be a great entry-level truck for younger kids or small contractors/tradesmen just starting out.

        1. I think Ford will sell a ton of Rangers off name recognition alone but I’m just not sure they will give us an engine with any guts. I’m a fan of the Pentastar V6 and we know FCA (like them or not) is NOT afraid to stick a powerful engine in something. To me the Jeep is by far the biggest unknown here. Will they go big? Will they build a truly capable truck off road? What about towing and payload? I think things could get interesting. I’m a Toyota guy but let’s face it, they need to be pushed and pushed hard and I hope it happens. Competition makes for better choices for the consumer.

      1. I even liked the Fiat Torro mini truck. My best friend’s dad growing up drove a VW truck. It was a tiny diesel but got about 46 mpg and this was 30 years ago.

        1. My brother has an ’83 Isuzu Pup, similar to Chevy LUV (Light Utility Vehicle). It is a diesel 2wd with 5-spd manual. Back when it was newer and the speed limit was 55, he got 48mpg with it. It got t-boned and totaled about 15 years ago, but he still drives it around on his farm.

          1. The speed limit has a lot to do with mpgs as well. The difference between 70 and 80 on my Yukon is about 3-4mpg. I really don’t think we have progressed much in terms of fuel mileage m or not as much as we should have.

    7. With the mid size boom I really expected a larger crowd for the Honda. My believe is the mid sized crowd is looking for a smaller truck but is also looking for comfort, economy and a smaller truck in general. It may be the fact it is a Honda and they are known for cars but I have said it before, if I was in the market for a midsized truck, the Honda would likely be it. I guess we will see how the new Ranger does if it ever comes out but the Honda is a good overall suburban small truck. Maybe man it up a little but overall, you get a lot for your money. Just look at the storage they utilized.

    8. Holy cow! Someone from Honda actually replied to a post! Is that a first?

      Now, just waiting for Toyota…

        1. @Rambro: Good one!
          Recently, there have been a number of news stories about Toyota and Mazda building plant, where Corolla production will take place (instead of Mexico). This will allow Toyota to build more Tacoma’s in Mexico to meet demand. What’s interesting about this is there is no mention of Tundra production increasing. Now, with increased Tacoma production by another plant, one would think that Tacoma production could be modestly decreased and replaced with a proportional increase in Tundra production.

          I find it very interesting that in a mere tens years, the Tundra went from “single biggest and most important launch in Toyota’s 50-year U.S. history” to a niche vehicle.

          I also find it equally interesting that no “auto/truck” site has pressed Toyota for an explanation.

          1. No QDR, no explanation is necessary. Akio Toyoda is a car guy. He thinks we should all drive cars. He does not like trucks and shows it by allowing them to sit stale for 11 model years.

            1. Agreed. Evidence of this is his passion for Lexus. Another example is the Camry as the ’18 is quite a leap forward from ’17. Akio took over in ’09 and in ’10, MS became the new chief engineer (CE) for Toyota USA light trucks. I’ve always wondered what happened with the former CE.

              The link below is to an article that provides some insight into the 2016 Tacoma. It’s an interesting read and may provide one more clue as it mentions there is one “master off-road” in Toyota–maybe he’s Ninja or something 🙂


            2. @Moondog
              Toyota is not that interested in the US market as regards Pickups. They are more focused on the overall US Market, where they are doing very well. Toyota has a lot of interest in the Pickup and MDT/ Light Truck/ HDT outside NA

            3. But Robert those of us who drive them here in the US would appreciate it it if they would show more interest in our market. It seems they are starting to at least listen some. For 2018 they will have power front seats for the first time ever, leather available on TRD trims, Safety Sense, and some other meaningful and much needed options.

    9. Hey Nathan, I love the Rush shirt!
      Yeah, that’s what I got out of this.
      But seriously, fun video, guys. And Andre, try to have some fun, ok? 🙂

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    11. 14+ mpg is not bad for towing, especially going over the mtns.

      “Earth dreams” only Honda would name a engine like that. This something a liberal would conjure up.

      1. I’m one of the liberals that drives a 2017 Ridgeline and I agree, the overall mpg towing with a G2 Ridgeline is very good. I tow a 4,500 lb bowrider and got 17.0 mpg (hand calculated) last trip. My 1,100 lb Sea Doo cuts only about 1.5 mpg off the highway mpg. Last non-towing trip (310 miles) I got a true 26.7 mpg. I’ve owned two RAM 1500s inc an EcoDiesel and the reality is, a full size GAS half ton, regardless of rating, is simply not going to be that close to a Ridgeline in real world mpg. It’s simple physics at some point (especially when towing).

        1. P.S. I should have noted, the RAM EcoDiesel is excluded on the mpg conversation (which is center on gas burners). I averaged 22.5 mpg overall for the 33k miles I owned it and got 25 mpg or so on highway trips…I DOES meet its mpg numbers…

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