Honda heads to New York with 2017 Clarity electric car trio

 

 

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2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Photo Attributions Parks McCants 2017

It’s good to have choices, and that’s what Honda offers discerning auto industry insiders and consumers at 2017 N.Y.I.A.S. This week in New York City,  Honda debuts a trio of 2017 Clarity electric cars, more electrification choices than any other mainstream auto manufacturer on the planet.

With great buzz surrounding the showing of the first Type-R to wear the Honda label in New York, as well as the Civic Si duo, a bit of air may be let out of the bag that is the advancement of Honda electrification.

Currently, as reported by yours truly at Honda-Torque News, 2017 Clarity currently drives the streets of California as a lease-only hydrogen fuel cell generated stand alone electric car.  I recently drove Clarity FCV on the streets of Santa Barbara. Loved it!

Clarity FCV, BEV or plug in hybrid

Honda public relations tells us that they anticipate the 5-passenger 4-door 2017 Clarity plug-in hybrid sedan to be the best seller in this trio. With internal combustion charge-co generation, and extended plug-in electric only drive range (estimated 40 + miles,) Sedan or not, 2017 Clarity hybrid electric will be a Honda market sales leader.

Clarity BEV panned for 80 mile between charge drive range 

The two electric drive range extremes in the 2017 Clarity lineup is the 360 miles driven between 3-minute hydrogen refueling stop, and the stated 80 miles in-city drive range of the Clarity battery electric. Honda claims that previous Fit EV leasees have no problem with Clarity BEV range. Could be, I’ve yet to speak with a Fit electric fan.

As the market transitions back to large SUVs

There’s more than just a slight undercurrent sweeping a quickly transitioning auto market away from fuel efficient, sub compacts, compacts, and yes, entry level electric cars and crossovers. Although a slight uptick in electric vehicle sales was recorded in 2016, the general trend is consumers opting for gasoline motivated, relatively thirsty, premium or luxury SUVs. The bigger the better. Non the less, Honda takes the long view while embracing the sustainable future of auto-electrification.

2017 Acura MDX hybrid and more

We recently drove 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid and walked away smiling, despite a torrential downpour.  Honda talks of adapting the Clarity platform for light truck duty,perhaps Honda fans will see a hybrid Pilot in the not too distant future, perhaps.

 

Acura TLX Sedan Comes Out Swinging with Precision Performance Design Upgrade

 

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Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut * Image Attributes Acura Division 2017

Judging by Acura’s latest ‘teaser image’ of the 2018 TLX premium midsize performance sedan, the Precision Performance inspired design upgrade should not only elevate lagging TLX sales, but take the maker to the forefront of a very competitive, German dominated segment — where frankly, for many well heeled buyers’ price point is secondary to cutting edge good looks and reasonable road performance.

Already a great car by most discerning buyer’s standards

I count myself fortunate to have gained much seat time behind the wheel of Acura’s upper trim level sedans and SUVs. While arguably, a bit visually understated when compared to the likes of Audi, BMW, and Lexus, every one of Acura’s offerings makes up for conservative looks, with exceptional road handling, cabin comfort, reasonable MSRP, and top of segment fuel efficiency and safety.

Where Acura continues to trail the competition is in engine power output, and body style. Me, I personally like Acura style, but I’m not 40 something, and captivated by the rather futurist styling of Lexus, or the German in-your-face historically correct performance sedans of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Acura in direct comparison trends towards “boxy,” on the SUV side of the mark, and Honda-like on the performance sedan side of the big “A. That’s all about to change.”

With the advent of NSX hybrid supercar, and the presentation of Acura’s Precision Performance Concept, comes a major change of direction in Acura lineup-wide body language. Gone is the Acura Beak, and by most accounts, it won’t be missed. In its stead, as featured most recently in the 2017 Acura MDX refresh is a diamond mesh 3-D grill design, featuring Acura’s unique moniker, front and center. Read my latest take on Acura MDX sport hybrid here.

We further note a seamless integration of updated L.E.D. headlamp and running light details. And, as seen in recent spy-shot photos, a round to organic, side panel body line, expressing improved engine performance and torque vectoring road handling to come.

Hybrid, new center dash static screen, and expanded active safety features

Perhaps! As of this posting, Acura’s not saying. But truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a turbocharged 1.5 or 2 liter 4 cylinder gasoline engine rolling down the production line, linked to a new proprietor Acura transmission, or two.

Look for the world debut of Acura’s next advent at the New York International Auto Show in April.

 

Subaru WRX fans in an uproar over next gen Honda Civic Type-R

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Euro Inspired Civic Type-R coming to America

So, the great debate continues as to the supremacy of Subaru all-wheel-drive torque transfer over any and all comers in the world-rally car, and hot-hatch street scene.  Regardless, for the Honda hardcore, Civic high performance is, and shall always be, manually shifted and delivered to the road via a front differential, powered by a high revolution, Honda iVTEC derived fuel injected fire breather.

Good enough, we all have or quirky preferences. For me, while I do appreciate a very controlled real-time 4-wheel-drive drift, there’s nothing quite like the near out of control slide of a front wheel drive Honda. Hey, I can drift an NSX supercar, if the tires are hot enough.

Here’s the thing: The fewer moving drive-line parts the better. For 2017, Honda promises an out of the box pocket racer that will blow the doors off of every factory manufactured performance hatchback brand available to North America. Note, Subaru Loyal, the legendary WRX Si hatchback will not be coming stateside in 2017, right?

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2017 Civic Type-R is vissually stunning

But truthfully: To the Honda loyal, competing brands are inconsequential when it comes to their undying love for a car that few of them have driven, and even fewer will ever own. When 2017 Honda Civic Type R comes to the U.S., sometime in late Spring or early Summer 2017, it will be the most powerful, and the rarest, Honda to ever roll out of a Honda dealership showroom. Well, perhaps the original NSX is rarer, perhaps.

306 Horsepower, tricked out to the max, and expensive by Honda standards

Here’s the thing guys and gals. When the last rendition of Honda Type-R came to market in Europe and Japan, early in 2016, it sold out in a matter of minutes. 700 units were manufactured, 200 of them went to Japan. While Honda has not released production numbers for the reinvented 10th generation world-compact-platformed 2017 Civic Type-R, we do know, that the initial production run will be  a limited one. What do you get for your money? Check it out.

Honda tells us to expect an MSRP to land in the mid $30,000 range; I’m thinking just south of $40,000, if you can find one. Good enough, Civic Type-R, the first Honda to wear the designation in the U.S., will sell out on its release. When we look to the specifications of this ‘out of the box’ factory street racer, the estimated MSRP is a relative bargain, Subaru WRX fan or not. So, for the time being. we’ll leave our Subaru WRX fans in an uproar. My son is one of them.

Expanded Honda Clarity Electric Lineup Debut’s 2017 New York International Auto Show

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Clarity Series to Debut at New York International Auto Show

As announced Wednesday by American Honda Motors, with Clarity, you get three options of electrification, presented in a stunning future forward 5-place personal conveyance. Electric Vehicle proponents now have an debut opportunity to view the Clarity lineup, April 14 through the 23, at the 2017 NYIAS (New York International Auto Show.)

NYIAS remains a favorite model reveal launching pad for Honda, the fastest growing automotive brand in the United States. Predicted market availability for Clarity BEV, (battery electric vehicle) and Clarity, gasoline/electric hybrid, is Fall of 2017; just around the corner in automotive development time.

Highlights of today’s announcement include a stated 40 mile-electric-only drive range for Clarity Hybrid, making it one of the greatest electric-only drive range hybrids available to North America. Read my Torque News slant on the Clarity lineup here.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

A bit disappointed with stated Clarity BEV drive range

Say what you will Honda, in today’s rapidly developing mainstream electric vehicle market,  a “real-world” realistic battery-electric drive range must exceed 130, and better yet, approach or exceed 200 miles between charge cycles. Unfortunately,  this is not the case for the much welcomed Clarity BEV.  We’ll see where it all lands.

Looking to the electric market handwriting on the wall, and the increased sales performance for the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid, I believe the winner of the Clarity trifecta to be the hybrid. I love the zero emissions quotient of the Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell. But, before that innovation can go mainstream, an escalated expansion of the Hydrogen Fuel Network must ensue. We’re 3-years into that proposition in California, with 18 stations or so completed to date?  Progress, yes, it’s slow, but meaningful.

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Although not substantiated by the maker, 80 miles between charge cycles is anticipated for Clarity BEV

Next week we take our first spin behind the wheel of Clarity Fuel Cell. I’m excited. look for updates here. If you could purchase a ZERO emissions vehicle for under $40,000, would you?  Let us know what you would like to see come to market in a long-trip-viable, supper low emissions car or light truck. Your thought provoking comment is always welcomed here.

The latest from Honda-Torque News

 

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

 

This week in Honda-Torque News I share Honda Motor Company’s sales report for February, yet another record sales month for American Honda.

Light truck sales, the Fed’s designation for any light-truck-like crossover or SUV drove the brand to a record February with 2017 CR-V SUV outselling Accord and Civic, for the first time in memory. Noteworthy is a double digit increase in sales volume for Honda’s HR-V subcompact CUV, and continued momentum for Fit, the entry portal to the American Honda lineup. Read my latest take on 2017 Honda HR-V here.

Parks McCants with 2016 Honda HR-V in Miami, Fl..

American Honda embraces alternative propulsion

For the second month of 2017, we note an interesting development on Honda’s electrification front, with 2017 Accord Hybrid posting a 385% sales gain over February 2016. Does the uptick indicate sustainable growth through the driving public’s acceptance of the electric car, or are Californian’s simply easing their way into a less crowded, quick moving Diamond Lane?

While Clarity FCV and Accord Hybrid owners do benefit from an environmentally friendly pass, as to congested L.A. and Orange County traffic congestion, I do believe the general appeal of a high-torque clean burning auto to be a bit broader than the outskirts of L.A., so do the engineers at Honda. Read our latest slant on Honda auto electrification here.

Clarity Battery Electric

As earlier reported by Torque News and others, the 3rd generation Clarity Fuel Cell manufacturing platform further expands into a gasoline/electric hybrid varient, and a battery electric offering. Honda, while not specific as to the near future application of electrification, has indicated that a crossover, SUV, or pickup truck may be in the works in the not too distant future.

Despite current low-fuel pricing, for Honda Motor Company, and other makers positioning for market share in California, still the world’s largest auto market, electric is the viable future in high-torque-output, super low to no exhaust emission, environmentally friendly, personal and commercial transportation.

You will see, and possibly drive, or ride in, a fully autonomous, (hands-free, sensory, computer controlled) long-range electric car within the next decade.

I’ve experienced high-speed hands-off-the-wheel driving behind the wheel of this car. 2017 Volvo S90 is like no other car on the road today.

it’s a trip!

 

Auto Press leaks 2017 Clarity Battery Electric Range, Not Long

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Although not substantiated by the maker, experts anticipate 80 miles between charge cycles for Clarity BEV

As announced Monday morning by Automotive News, E.V. enthusiast looking to Honda for extended battery electric vehicle range, will be a bit disappointing by Clarity BEV. (Battery Electric Vehicle)

In a recent interview with American Honda, Automotive News was informed that the Clarity platform battery electric follows the example set by the no longer available in the U.S. Fit E.V. — with an approximate 80 mile drive range before requiring recharging.  O.K., I was anticipating a bit more!

Will short-range kill the market for Honda’s battery electric Clarity platform variant?

Frankly, I believe when looking to the recently formed hydrogen development alliance between Honda and General Motors, the maker has dedicated facility and resources to the development and marketing of compressed hydrogen fuel cell electric cars. I take a closer look at 2017 Clarity FCV here.

With the 230 mile range Chevy Bolt coming on-line at well under $38,000, before tax incentives, and Tesla shooting for 2018 manufacturing and delivery of the Tesla 3, outside of the hardcore Honda EV loyal, there is little market for Clarity BEV.

Clarity to come in 3 variants

Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric

At this point in time it’s nearly impossible to measure what’s referred to as the “white space” in a rapidly expanding and ever-developing E.V. market. The viable future of the electric car rests with battery density, and the manufacturing volume capacity of an emerging battery industry.

In a recent report from automaker Tesla, it’s revealed that battery module cost was 60% of what it was just 5 years earlier. That’s a step in the right direction as auto manufacturers mainstream electrification of personal conveyance. Who will take the immediate lead in the market mainstreaming of the E.V.?

As of this writing the #1 engine manufacturer in the world is Honda — that’s the internal combustion engine. No company has done more to develop and market low to no emissions

I.C.E, and certainly Honda demonstrates market viable applications of electric motors in the NSX supercar, and the now on the highway Clarity FCEV.

At its base core, Clarity Fuel Cell is an electric vehicle. Clarity Battery Electric, for now I’ll take a wait and see position as to the market viability of Honda’s 80 mile range electric. Read my latest take on the Clarity BEV here.

 

 

American Honda’s John Mendel leaves a positive legacy in wake of retirement

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Mr John Mendel Executive Vice President, American Honda Motors, automotive division.

Our collective hats are off to Mr. John Mendel as he vacates the top office at American Honda Motors for greener country pastures. No worries, American Honda Motors remains in very capable hands as 2nd in command Mr. Jeff Conrad picks up the Mic at a time when Honda can do little wrong.

With Accord, Civic and CR-V leading segment sales in the U.S. auto market, the future outlook remains bright for America’s # auto manufacturer. John Mendel leaves A.H.M.C. on a high note, with record sales recorded in 2016 — thanks to the continued sales success of the top-3 — as well as new-found market momentum in Fit and HR-V., both great values, presenting exceptional optional and standard passive and active safety features, Lane Watch, and a very decent transformable ‘magic-seat’ interior.

Ode to Mr. John Mendel, as published today in Honda-Torque News

John Mendel takes a final bow at American Honda

In a world of an eminent ongoing change, there comes a shift at American Honda Motor Company. An auto-world-celebrity in his own right, “Big John” Mendel will be missed.

I meet John Mendel at an Acura TLX event a few years back in Virginia. At that time, I found this big bear of a man, a formidable, well spoken, but effectively the “King” of American Honda Automotive, not overly approachable. With the Takata Airbag related threats would come bodyguards, that too would change.

I would come to consider John a friend as he went out of his way to share with me what he could about the inner workings of Honda, near future developments, and where the maker focused as to alternative transportation, safety, and electrification. Furthermore,  I appreciated John’s personal acknowledgement of my work as an automotive journalist.

As it turned out, the more that I got to know John, I would soon come to realized that Mendel epitomized the roll-up-your-sleeves and get it done attitude that drives Honda. What you see with Mendel, is what you get. There’s no false pretense present, he’s a genuine Honda player, and a “car guy,” in the old-school sense of the auto industry.

John Mendel worked his way up through the Ford Motor Company, before transitioning to Mazda, and then Honda Motors in 2004 — just on time for the world-wide recession. He made it through the economic s… storm, Honda made it.  John Mendel is well liked by dealers, the automotive press, and associates. Because, at his base corp. he’s one of us, a no-nonsense team player.

Effectively the head of Honda’s U.S. Automotive operations, John Mendel would appear time and time again over the years, sharing the good news, as to industry benchmark setting model roll outs, while putting out media fires, airbag recalls, and the supply chain cause and effect, of earthquake, and tsunami related impact on America’s 4th largest automotive brand.

Through good and bad times, “the buck stopped” at John’s desk, as he masterfully handled diversity, setbacks, and success, masterfully. All, to the bennefit of Honda, and its premium brand Acura, a true professional.

As with all entrepreneurs

As announced yesterday by Honda News, Mr. John Mendel will retire from Honda. He joins his sons in a micro distillery start-up in Mammoth California. I’ll be headed out to “Devil’s Creek Distillery” to sip some moonshine sooner than later, and wish John Mendel smooth sailing towards continued success.

2017 Honda Ridgeline road trip
Honda reinvents the midsize truck segment.

As to the future of American Honda Motors, it’s in good hands with Mr. Jeff Conrad. Stay tuned.

MOTO RACER 4 Comes To North America January 24 (Video)

MOTOR RACER 4 may be the most realistic hands-on off and on road motorcycle racing Video game of all time. It’s fun, fast, furious, realistic and debuts in North America January 24.

The MOTOR RACER franchise is looking for your feedback on its latest edition of the over-the-top, action packed on and off-road motorcycle racing thriller. MOTO RACE 4 puts you on the bike, while capturing forward, side, and rear view shots of the action — way cool, and butt sore cool! The detail and life-like imagery all the way down to the dust cloud is just a bit mind-boggling — it’s that real — it’s like you’re sitting on the seat, air bound. 

From road racing to handlebar-hanging aerial suicide jumps, MOTO RACER 4 puts you in the action without having to leave the comfy confines of your favorite chair.  Here’s where it gets interesting.

To celebrate the North American launch of MOTO RACER 4, the maker is giving away 2 PS4 and  1 Xbox 1 digital access codes. Here’s how it works: Watch the YouTube demo video, comment below, and we’ll randomly pick 3 winners based on their sincere, detailed feedback. Make it good! Like it, don’t like it? Bring it on.

 

Civic tops our Honda news for December

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback passes my drive review with flying colors.

With a much anticipated arrival of the manufactured in England 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback,  the 44 year compact icon bettered its sales position in the United States. Actually, Civic was the best selling compact sedan in North America for 2016. We first experienced 2016 Civic behind the wheel in Malibu, California.

And although American Honda doesn’t disclose individual variant sales numbers,(sedan, coupe, hatchback) I’ll step out on a limb here with a qualified guess that the November arrival of Honda’s turbocharged 5-door hatchback pushed the lineup into a world-class-compact competition, with very positive sales results.

On a personal note: 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Touring was my Honda-Torque News pick for Honda’s most surprising car offering in 2016.

That’s a big deal with American Honda no leading the sales race with 4 contenders taking #1 in class: Honda Accord, Civic Sedan, CR-V SUV and Odyssey Minivan. In short, the buying public has made Honda the fastest growing automotive brand in North America. And crossover/SUV fans: 2017 Honda CR-V arrives with a welcomed surprise or two.

When we look to the numbers, Honda not only builds well over 95% of cars sold in North America, in Canada, Mexico and the U.S., but, when looking to domestically sourced parts percentage, your North American Honda contains a higher percentage of “Manufactured in the U.S.A.”parts than Chevrolet, Dodge or Ford.

As to the engine: Honda’s dedicated to manufactured in the U.S. low displacement, super low friction and near-zero emissions turbocharged 4 cylinder gasoline engines throughout the re engineered lineup. This holds true for the exceptional manufactured in England turbocharged 5-door hatchback. Reflecting on my initial drive time, I find Civic Hatchback to be the most refined offering in the 10th generation lineup. Speaking of auto-innovation, take a look at Honda Clarity.

As to Honda’s latest Civic offering: Say what you will, I appreciate the utility of a compact hatchback; Honda’s quirky good looks, and what I now consider to be the most comfortable power adjusted driver’s seat in the Civic brand.

Was it love at first site? Well no! But much like the proverbial ‘girl next door,” she grows on you.

We head on down to Fort Umpqua Days in 2017 Honda Ridgeline Pickup

Fall is a great time for driving the back roads of western Oregon. The weather borders on perfection and is generally dry, cool in the mornings, warm in the afternoon, and breezy. Last Labor Day Weekend, we headed down to “Fort Umpqua Days,” with Ms Nancy King. Frankly, she wasn’t eager to vacate the driver’s seat of 2017 Ridgeline, and headed south on the old Territorial Highway toward Drain, Oregon.

V6 powered, fuel-efficient, easy handling

In talking with Ridgeline development engineers, as shared with Torque News, Honda’s only pickup truck offering is designed with the part-time pickup truck user in mind. Our 2017 Ridgeline Black Edition comes fully equipped with every bell and whistle in Honda’s arsenal, including HondaWatch ™, active safety suite, standard multi directional back up camera, power adjusted, cooled and heated driver and front passenger seat, leather trim, and black anodized exterior trim details. You will find full specifications here.

For night driving, our Ridgeline comes equipped with LED self dimming headlights, high visibility running and tail lights. Sinister by day, congenial by night, Ridgeline proves an exceptional multiple task master, tough yet accommodatingly posh — in a pickup truck sort of way.

The best seats in the Honda lineup

I realize that what constitutes “best” is a very personal assessment. Yet, our Ridgeline pickup with just a bit under 4,000 miles showing on the odometer, presented the most comfortable seat that I’d encountered behind the wheel of a Honda or Acura for that matter, over several years of short and extended vehicle drive review.

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It may simply be relative to my personal size, weight, body condition, etc, I don’t know, but I’m very impressed, so was Nancy! In short, 6 foot 5 inches tall, and 5 foot 6 inches tall, both found 2017 Honda Ridgeline infinitely adjustable, medium soft as to ride quality, without being squirrely, and powerful enough as to engine performance.

Interior sensory perception

Ridgelines interior is pleasing to the eye and touch, and while a bit plastic-rich, does present a nice balance of utility meets refinement. I  further appreciate the ergonomically correct layout of Ridgeline’s center stack touchscreen monitor, instrumentation and i-MID. We both found Ridgeline personal electronic connectivity to work seamlessly, as did the Garmin based navigation.

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And of course, the backup camera as displayed through the monitor produced images of clarity, although a bit grainy at night!  The leather seating in our black edition is nicely detailed with muted red piping seating surface inserts,   and perforated for heating and cooling. I further found the fit and finish as to material interface exceptional.

Engine exhaust tone, shift patterns, cab noise, and more

I truly appreciate the throaty exhaust tone of Honda’s mechanically bulletproof 3.5 Liter V6. Our Ridgeline test mule is equipped with “Econ mode.” and at the touch of the button will seamlessly transition to 3 cylinders when driving at speed on the highway.

Honda employs the 6 speed automatic transmission across the lineup with torque transfer duty relegated to either a FWD ( front-wheel-drive) differential or optional “Intelligent Variable Torque Management,” VTM 4, AWD (all-wheel-drive.)

For 2017 all Ridgeline trucks come equipped with a push button “dedicated traction mode,” We discovered it initially in the all new Honda Pilot. Bottom line: Ice, Mud, Snow, no problem! But for us on this mostly dry day (we did encounter a raindrop or two,) Ridgeline proved a no fatigue drive and ride experience, despite an 8 hour, 400 mile drive day, on mostly two lane rural roads. Like I said, Ridgeline is quiet, smooth and fun to drive.

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23.9 MPG combined real world fuel efficiency

On a day rural two lane, highway and gravel road transitions, on the flat and through the mountains, our 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition, as fully loaded as you can find one, averaged 25.7 MPG combined on regular unleaded gasoline — we didn’t baby it!  And yes, we did encounter more than one conventional pickup truck owner that appreciate the almost sinister look of Honda’s latest and greatest offering.

In conclusion

I recommend 2017 Honda Ridgeline Pickup to anyone considering a new truck purchase, or wishing to eliminate a car or two from the stable, while opting for a vehicle that presents truck toughness, crew cab, SUV-like utility and premium Accord-like interior comfort and quiet. For those of you living in regions that don’t require AWD traction, take a look at the all new FWD(front wheel drive) Ridgeline with a beginning MSRP of $29,475 to $42,870 +.

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What I’d change

Truthfully, not much. However, for dedicated off-road use, I’d personally like to find a bit more ground clearance, specifically up front. I talked a bit with Honda engineering as to a possible air-suspension option, it could be done. Also, a few more inches in truck bed length and rear door seat access  would be appreciated. But then it wouldn’t be a Honda Ridgeline.

2017 Honda Ridgeline is the makers greatest achievement to date on the road to reinventing their entire line.