Quite a few have their doubts about the Honda Ridgeline’s unibody construction and unbiased rear suspension. Not me. I when drove the latest Ridgeline technology to Racetrack Playa, a geological speculate you may possibly have read through about in Loss of life Valley. The journey there was a tooth-rattling 54-mile out and back again journey on a badly washboarded filth street, but thanks to its carlike unibody structure and unbiased rear suspension executing a superior task sucking up the washboard at speed, the Ridgeline survived the trip much better than two off-road package deal vans that tagged along. It may well have returned with 1 a little bit leaky rear shock, but the Tacoma TRD Off-Road and Nissan Titan XD Professional-4X experienced dramatic explosive failures of their rear shocks and irreversible heat hurt to their front ones.
The Ridgeline’s suspension has no equal in the pickup world when it comes to on-highway ride and dealing with, and contrary to the unusual initial generation’s compromised bed, the new one’s is for a longer period and wider than any other midsize crew taxi. It is got that trunk and two-way tailgate, too. By all accounts it is a terrific truck if you can acknowledge you are going to by no means get it to Moab. But Death Valley amazed me. Substantially like that authentic era, the 2020 Honda Ridgeline is really quite well-suited to some off-highway scenarios. Let’s see if we can determine out why.
Ideal away we see a thing various. The Ridgeline uses MacPherson strut (yellow arrow) entrance suspension. Struts are sturdy, but their presence here does confirm that intense articulation is not in the playing cards. Also, the front air dam in advance of the wheel opening doesn’t offer a really extraordinary technique angle. Neither of these are restrictions on dirt streets in sensible ailment. But, yeah, it’s also true that the idea of the Ridgeline on the Rubicon path is laughable.
The next-generation Ridgeline’s front struts (yellow) contain a hidden attribute that was NOT present in the very first-technology truck. It is known as Amplitude Reactive Damping, and what that indicates is the struts have two damping valves alternatively of just one. These shocks use one of the valves to crank out fewer damping force and deliver a far more compliant trip when wheel motions are little on damaged asphalt, gravel roadways and washboard surfaces. The other valve comes into participate in to create a lot more damping power when wheel motions turn into far more exaggerated, as they would be as the body heels above in the course of tough cornering.
The reduced conclude of the suspension is positioned by a forged-aluminum control arm (environmentally friendly), a more robust piece that replaces a heavier metal device that was existing on the 1st-generation truck.
The steering knuckle (environmentally friendly) is cast metal piece that is much better than the 1 utilised on the authentic Ridgeline. Which is a topic that also applies to the hubs, wheel bearings, ball joints and other items. The 2nd-generation Ridgeline is basically a beefier truck than its predecessor.
This knuckle employs a pinch-design and style strut mounting level, which implies the decreased stop of the strut itself need to contain a thin bracket that suits into the slot (yellow) to guarantee suitable alignment of the two pieces.
This is an L-shaped command arm that factors towards the rear, so the standard load route principles utilize. Vertical highway shocks go straight up into the spring and damper assemblies, which we know as shock absorbers.
But the most abrupt and significant bumps also have a longitudinal part identified as harshness, which arrives in from the street by the tire and hub to the ball joint (yellow), which brings about the L-formed arm to pivot about its ahead bushing and change that pulse into an inward load at the rear bushing — which is intentionally big to do that job correctly.
As for cornering masses (eco-friendly) they come in as a result of the ball joint laterally and move straight on through the arm to its ahead chassis mounting place.
The lessen handle arm’s forward mounting position (yellow) is securely bolted with a vertically oriented bolt, which can make it easy to visualize how it might act as a pivot throughout harsh impacts. The rear bushing (inexperienced) is odd in a unique way. There’s no bolt. The reduce management arm terminates in a shaft that just plugs into it. I have to imagine the two are keyed in some way — not a flawlessly spherical shaft and a spherical hole — so they transfer collectively as the arm pivots up and down, but I couldn’t establish that for selected.
This angle reveals that the reduce manage arm’s higher bushing just about undoubtedly has a pillow ball — a form of ball-and-socket joint — hidden inside of the rubber. Meanwhile, the Ridgeline’s transverse-mounted engine and transmission make it required to mount the steering rack (environmentally friendly) powering the drive axle.
Like many modern day strut-centered suspensions, the Ridgeline’s stabilizer bar connection (yellow) is mounted straight to the strut itself, a move that produces a 1-to-1 stabilizer bar movement effectiveness ratio. The stabilizer bar itself (inexperienced) is mounted very low versus the subframe and guiding the steering rack.
Rear mounted steering prospects to front-mounted brakes, and these are based mostly on great-sized two-piston sliding calipers. The rotors are vented, of program, but there are other vents (yellow) that are nearer to the hub and wheel bearing regions.
The rear of the Ridgeline usually takes items a move more than the Ram 1500 we appeared at previous 7 days. We can see the coil spring from right here, but we can also see proof that this is an impartial rear suspension. The Ridgeline, staying a midsize pickup, isn’t developed to haul as considerably as a whole-dimensions pickup, but its payload rating of 1,580 lbs is really competitive in its possess segment if you confine your comparison to crew-taxi midsize pickups — the only configuration the Ridgeline arrives in.
This is certainly a multilink, but it’s a distinct kind that has one particular higher wishbone (yellow), so named due to the fact it has two inner mounting factors that make it entirely able of finding the fore-aft and in-out locale of the upper conclusion of the suspension on its very own.
Down down below, nevertheless, we see two discreet links rather of a wishbone. Both equally of them share tasks, but the far more highly angled forward url (yellow) has a lot more to do with fore-aft wheel site even though the more squared-up rear hyperlink (green) will take a larger share of the lateral cornering masses.
In this article they are yet again (yellow, inexperienced), but now we can see the third and last toe-control link (pink), which has an eccentric at its interior close for the adjustment of static toe-in. Meanwhile, the upper wishbone hovers over them all.
Like the entrance, the rear shock absorber (yellow) has Amplitude Reactive Damping valves hidden inside, in addition to the coil spring it carries on the outdoors. The both equally of them link to the rear decrease hyperlink, which shoulders the rear suspension masses. The mounting position is just outboard of the link’s midpoint at about the 65 percent mark, which provides the spring and shock a movement effectiveness ratio of .65-to-1. Just about every inch of wheel motion will compress them .65 inches, which is important to know if you’re a suspension engineer choosing on the stiffness of the rear springs you want to specify.
In the meantime, the stabilizer bar and its connecting connection (eco-friendly) connect immediately to the rear knuckle at a 1-to-1 movement effectiveness ratio.
Here’s a nearer appear at the stabilizer bar attachment bracket which is cast into the rear knuckle assembly.
As you may well have noticed, that rear knuckle (yellow) is made of aluminum. Not only that, it’s a tidy and compact piece. From below we can also see that the rear brake (inexperienced) is composed of a solitary-piston sliding caliper. But there is a little something lacking from this see.
That something is the parking brake. The rear caliper didn’t look to have any actuating mechanism for that purpose, and which is simply because the Ridgeline’s parking brake is a secondary drum brake hidden within just the hat portion (yellow) of the rear rotor.
But there is something else worth noting in this article. It may possibly not be evident at to start with, but it is been element of every single photo hence far. There’s not very considerably unsprung mass again below. This rear suspension can shoulder far more payload than a Tacoma crew taxi, but the Ridgeline’s use of impartial rear suspension removes the worst offender when it will come to unsprung mass: the rear axle and centre differential housing alone.
This is why the Ridgeline’s shock absorbers mostly survived its bone-rattling 54-mile round trip to Dying Valley’s Racetrack Playa and again though the Tacoma TRD Off-Road adhering to in its tracks explosively blew the seals and ejected the oil out of its rear dampers. On washboard roads, the shocks ought to primarily management the mass of the suspension as it tries to fly up off the surface area. Considerably less unsprung mass (in the Ridgeline’s case, a ton much less) implies a lot less inertia for the dampers to offer with. They really do not have to have to operate as tricky, so they really do not generate as much warmth.
Diminished unsprung mass is also why driving on dirt roadways is more quickly, a lot more stable and more comfy in cars and crossovers than in strong-axle vans and overall body-on-frame SUVs.
Here’s the Ridgeline’s differential. Due to the fact this is an unbiased suspension, it is mounted to the chassis alone. None of its excess weight is classified as unsprung mass.
Also, you are looking at a rear differential with remaining-appropriate torque vectoring. A locking differential can only bring the torque break up up to 50/50, but a torque-vectoring differential can go beyond that to assistance the vehicle steer and take care of with more agility.
The Ridgeline’s wheel and tire mixture continues the small unsprung mass topic. This one particular weighed 62.5 lbs, which is not too shabby. These are 245/60R18 tires, which is effective out to just beneath 30 inches tall. There appears to be ample tire-to-strut clearance to go a minor even bigger on the diameter, but do not estimate me on that. Struts also appear into play when it arrives to width and backspacing, so consider take note that these are 18-by-8-inch wheels with a 55-mm backspacing.
My greatest beef with the Ridgeline is there are only 4 of these. The spare is a non permanent, which is just improper for a truck. Also, it is concealed inside the underbed trunk (proven in movie down below). Certain, no just one will at any time steal it, but if you get a flat you will have to unload your mattress to get at the spare. We taken off it and carried it in the bed for the duration of that excursion to Racetrack Playa.
And which is just it. The Ridgeline does pretty very well out there so extended as your off-roading entails passable filth streets, don’t present severe clearance and articulation issues, and really don’t require boulder-hopping. All surveys I have observed point out that describes the vast bulk of truck homeowners. The rewards of this set up are genuine and tangible, and I believe we’re sure to see extra midsize pickups laid out like the Ridgeline. In point, Hyundai is on the verge of releasing a person incredibly soon.
Contributing author Dan Edmunds is a veteran automotive engineer and journalist. He labored as a car or truck growth engineer for Toyota and Hyundai with an emphasis on chassis tuning, and was the director of vehicle screening at Edmunds.com (no relation) for 14 decades.
You can locate all of his Suspension Deep Dives here on Autoblog.