Ever since the official reveal of the new Ridgeline, comment sections of car blogs and facebook posts all over the web have been flooding with comments from truck affictionados, enthusiasts and armchair experts claiming that, since the Ridgeline is FWD-based, it’s not a real truck. Trucks (or everything) should be rear-wheel drive like God intended! The 2017 ridgeline is a sissy van and not a real manly truck! Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you these people are flat-out wrong to dismiss this truck for it’s front-driveness. In fact, I think it’s rather brilliant.
The reason why I claim this is rather simple. Have you ever driven a rear-wheel-drive pickup (either rwd only or a 4wd pickup in rwd mode) in even only one inch of snow in the winter and that’s including good winter tires with absolutely no trailer or cargo? I have, many times plus it was a modern truck, and it absolutely sucks.
Pickups, even modern models, have terrible weight distribution. Most of the weight is up front, a bit like old-school muscle-cars. This translates to horrible traction when unladden on snowy and icy surfaces. Modern, body-on-frame pickups do fantastically in bad weather with 4x4 switched on yes, but it’s also the only way they are reasonably driveable without looking like the guy trying to drive an old foxbody mustang with summer tires in the opposite season. Who just wheelspins on the spot at every intersection without making forward progress.
It really is that bad. A fwd compact sedan with winter tires and an open diff will make significantly better forward progress than a rwd body-on-frame truck with equivalent quality tires. And that’s because the weight is on the drive wheels. Which should be pretty obvious.
So, the Ridgeline being fwd-based in this case actually helps to curb the bad-weather traction issues that plague traditional trucks.
Someone in a base 2wd ridgeline will struggle a lot less in winter driving than someone driving, say, a base-model rwd Colorado. And those Ridgeline owners with 4wd trucks will need to switch that mode on less than those driving a 4wd equipped traditional pickup. This, ladies and gents, should translate to better fuel economy in winter months.
In conclusion, while the ridgeline’s underpinnings may make it seem less “manly” to many, those who don’t suffer from self-esteem issues and buy a ridgeline will get to enjoy a truck that is both practical and easier to live-with if you live somewhere where the winter climate sucks terribly.