Those who have anticipated impressive fuel economy numbers from Honda Ridgeline have been disappointed.
The numbers for the front wheel drive pickup from the Japanese giant are out and it is not a huge improvement over the all-wheel drive variants. The uni-body design of the pickup was expected to help in gas mileage, but it is now learnt that the vehicle offers 19 mpg in city and 26 mpg highway. Thus, a combined figure of 22 mpg does not sound like a lot. In fact, it is just one mpg better than its all-wheel drive variant.
Still, this is good news for Honda since the one mpg increase translates into a 5% increase when being precise. A huge reason for the perceived ‘poor gas figures’ from the Honda is likely to be the 3.5-liter V6 engine. Other mid-sized trucks fare almost similar numbers for the 2WD variants. The likes of Toyota Tacoma and the Chevrolet Colorado manages 21 mpg. Their four-wheel-drive variants have a similar reduction of one mpg just like in the Honda Ridgeline.
The full-size SUV’s have a significant reduction especially in the city economy figures. Vehicles like the Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ford F150 manage only around 16 and 17 mpg in the city. Even though their highway figures certainly show a substantial improvement, bringing in just 19 mpg on the combined cycle does not provide a huge advantage for mid-sized trucks like the Honda Ridgeline. Buyers are likely to see that there is no significant advantage to owning a front wheel drive Honda Ridgeline compared to getting the Chevrolet Silverado or the Ford F150 – especially in terms of gas mileage.
Aside from the engine size, the shape of the SUV also has to do a lot with the poor gas mileage figures. Sedans and sports cars are now able to post very low aerodynamic drag coefficient numbers. This is certainly not the case with SUVs. Further, these vehicles also have to carry around a lot of weight sometimes more than 4000 lbs. Manufacturers have been unable to achieve huge weight reductions in this regard.
However, they may learn their lessons from European manufacturers like Range Rover, who have been able to shed around 700 lbs. in recent models like the 2013 Range Rover Sport. The use of lightweight materials could be the way in the future for this segment.