Interesting midsize truck comparison / test

rruff

Explorer
Tribalism certainly exists within the 4x4 community. However, I don't think tribalism is the main reason that the Honda Ridgeline is looked down upon by hardcore 4x4 enthusiasts and truck owners. It's because its a car-derived vehicle that's intended to offer some amount of truck functionality, as opposed to being a truck designed/built from the ground up to offer total truck functionality.
"Some" amount of truck functionality is all most truck buyers actually use. If any! But where Honda "fails" is that it can't deliver a fantasy/lifestyle/ rugged/ cowboy marketing angle. The Ridgeline just doesn't look the part. Apparently an "aggressive" tall grill and hood are absolutely mandatory, along with a gratuitously high climb-in and seating position, and a 400hp engine. None of these 1/2 ton trucks are really made to be rugged haulers of stuff, else they'd have some respectable payload. They are spec'd to a marketing angle. They can sell trucks as "manly" looking vehicles, and seduce women with the idea that big vehicles are safer. The interiors are luxurious, and they compromise the suspension so it doesn't ride too much like a truck. It is your one vehicle that can appeal to everyone and do everything!

But 99% of the time it's commuting to work or driving to the store. Tasks that could be more efficiently and comfortably performed by pretty much every car on the market. But it's not about making sense. It's about manipulating people into buying stuff.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
"Some" amount of truck functionality is all most truck buyers actually use. If any! But where Honda "fails" is that it can't deliver a fantasy/lifestyle/ rugged/ cowboy marketing angle. The Ridgeline just doesn't look the part. Apparently an "aggressive" tall grill and hood are absolutely mandatory, along with a gratuitously high climb-in and seating position, and a 400hp engine. None of these 1/2 ton trucks are really made to be rugged haulers of stuff, else they'd have some respectable payload. They are spec'd to a marketing angle. They can sell trucks as "manly" looking vehicles, and seduce women with the idea that big vehicles are safer. The interiors are luxurious, and they compromise the suspension so it doesn't ride too much like a truck. It is your one vehicle that can appeal to everyone and do everything!

But 99% of the time it's commuting to work or driving to the store. Tasks that could be more efficiently and comfortably performed by pretty much every car on the market. But it's not about making sense. It's about manipulating people into buying stuff.
I certainly agree that many, if not most, truck owners buy a truck because of what they want one, not necessarily because they need one.

But that's a separate issue all together from whether or not a unibody car-based "truck" (Honda Ridgeline) can actually replace a traditional BOF truck in its intended functional role. Yes, many people want a higher-sitting suspension, with a powerful engine, and solid rear axle because of the cool factor that is perceived from owning a vehicle with such features....but those features do in fact serve a functional purpose, even if the owner might not put them to good use.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
They are spec'd to a marketing angle. They can sell trucks as "manly" looking vehicles
Toyota has sold the Hilux and now Tacoma as a lifestyle truck here for a long time. It was intended to be a smaller, cheaper, lighter alternative to the FJ45 and FJ75 utes of the time, whether for individuals or light commercial. That's what the segment has always been about. If "real" work was to be done you are supposed to get a Land Cruiser or Hino truck (or presumably a Tundra here). It's us knuckleheads who've pushed the limits of the mini trucks, primarily because the small size is a benefit on trails.

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toyota-tacoma-ad-bmx-mike-saavedra_mid.jpg
 

rruff

Explorer
But that's a separate issue all together from whether or not a unibody car-based "truck" (Honda Ridgeline) can actually replace a traditional BOF truck in its intended functional role.
I wonder if we will ever get a chance to find out. Weren't cars all BOF back in the day? I wonder what inherent advantages BOF has where trucks are concerned? Purpose built offroad vehicles are usually steel tube space frames, which is a type of unibody...
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I wonder if we will ever get a chance to find out. Weren't cars all BOF back in the day? I wonder what inherent advantages BOF has where trucks are concerned? Purpose built offroad vehicles are usually steel tube space frames, which is a type of unibody...
The reason BOF is preferred over unibody is body seams don't open as much over time, the sheet metal being somewhat isolated from the frame flex. It can obviously be done, e.g. the old Jeep Cherokee eventually became partially unibody. The primary reason unibody is used by manufacturers is it's cheaper to produce cars that way.

You know if Toyota could make Tacomas with unibodies and MacPherson struts they would. Whether it's marketing or performance, I dunno. It may only be image. There's still plenty people (ahem) who feel stung over trucks using IFS... But I bet there's less machismo globally and yet the Prado and Hilux remain BOF. That may change in the next few years with the TNGA platforms, though I think the current rumor is there will be a TNGA BOF for trucks still.

Also realize that none of this is done in a vacuum. A unibody designed 10 or 20 years ago isn't the same as one now. Engineering and manufacturing evolves so it's not impossible a Ridgeline that sat higher and used a live axle would be perfectly suitable. The Ford Transits are built that way so obviously they can tolerate some level of abuse.
 
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rruff

Explorer
The reason BOF is preferred over unibody is body seams don't open as much over time, the sheet metal being somewhat isolated from the frame flex.
The light truck frames are being made stiffer though. But ya, I can see some issues with the desire to have big door and window openings with a strong and stiff unibody frame. If you are after a particular "strength" (slamming into rocks and ruts) target, it's probably easier to isolate the body from the frame a bit.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
The reason BOF is preferred over unibody is body seams don't open as much over time, the sheet metal being somewhat isolated from the frame flex. It can obviously be done, e.g. the old Jeep Wranglers eventually became partially unibody. The primary reason unibody is used by manufacturers is it's cheaper to produce cars that way.

You know if Toyota could make Tacomas with unibodies and McPherson struts they would. Whether it's marketing or performance, I dunno. It may only be image. There's still plenty people (ahem) who feel stung over trucks using IFS... But I bet there's less machismo globally and yet the Prado and Hilux remain BOF. That may change in the next few years with the TNGA platforms, though I think the current rumor is there will be a TNGA BOF for trucks still.

Also realize that none of this is done in a vacuum. A unibody designed 10 or 20 years ago isn't the same as one now. Engineering and manufacturing evolves so it's not impossible a Ridgeline that sat higher and used a live axle would be perfectly suitable. The Ford Transits are built that way so obviously they can tolerate some level of abuse.
I suspect the reliance on BOF for truck design goes beyond a simple image/marketing justification. The design is still used for most trucks all over the world.

I agree that technology may change that going into the future. My point is if current unibody construction was just as capable and durable as BOF construction, you'd expect more than a few companies to be offering that type of "truck."


I wonder if we will ever get a chance to find out. Weren't cars all BOF back in the day? I wonder what inherent advantages BOF has where trucks are concerned?
Better durability going over rough terrain...you're going to slide on your frame rails before you start incurring body damage. In theory, I suppose a unibody could be built to withstand the same level of abuse...I don't know if anyone has built one to date.

Easier to accessorize/modify the vehicle...that's a huge advantage for towing trucks or commercial trucks with vocational bodies and equipment.
 
But 99% of the time it's commuting to work or driving to the store. Tasks that could be more efficiently and comfortably performed by pretty much every car on the market. .
I kind of fall into this category. However a car will not tow my trailer or haul the bulky items I do. Even if it's only a few times a month. Mathematically, buying a beater to drive to work just doesn't make financial sense for me.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The light truck frames are being made stiffer though. But ya, I can see some issues with the desire to have big door and window openings with a strong and stiff unibody frame. If you are after a particular "strength" (slamming into rocks and ruts) target, it's probably easier to isolate the body from the frame a bit.
The irony is Tacomas have windows that are growing smaller, the sight lines being terrible IMO. The only reason I can really say a BOF is strictly necessary for my truck is being an Access Cab it lacks a B pillar and that would be impossible with a unibody.

The cab itself on a BOF only needs to be strong enough to resist collapse in a roll over, it's not really an critical structural member like in a Ridgeline. Which is actually probably more rigid overall. But of course removing the bed and having more than one cab configuration is impossible without being distinct vehicles.

But it's interesting when you compare the gen 1 to gen 2 Ridgeline how the C pillars shrank and lost their sails. Early unibody and materials needed the support (same as in an Avalanche, BTW) to give the rear rigidity while fast forward 10 years and better steels and design let them make it slightly more traditionally pickup looking at the back window.

This is a good analysis of what I mean:
https://www.autosteel.org/-/media/files/autosteel/great-designs-in-steel/gdis-2017/track-2---2017-honda-ridgeline.ashx
 
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Clutch

<---Pass
But 99% of the time it's commuting to work or driving to the store. Tasks that could be more efficiently and comfortably performed by pretty much every car on the market. But it's not about making sense. It's about manipulating people into buying stuff.
We live in a capitalist society, constantly dreaming up new ways to sell you the same old crap. ;)

I am about 50/50 on my usage....half for commuting, the other 50% for doing truck stuff. Even with that, would like to have a car just for commuting if I wasn't such a cheap SOB. Like a zippy little VW hatch, Miata, or something along those lines.

My neighbor has a good combo, he has a Tundra and his wife has Suby Crosstrek.

Do like the Ridgeline, but don't think I could go bombing down dirt roads like in the Tacoma without much worry.
 
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OverlandNA

Active member
Unibody truck perspective - 1971-2003 Chrysler & 1971-1995 GM full size vans were unibody with passenger car engines. Many were not grocery getters but loaded down fleet vehicles running dirt roads for construction, power line maintenance etc. The bodies didn't fall apart or get tweaked due to the lack of an additional frame.
I owned a 78 Dodge B100 Quigley conversion for several years and it held up fine offroad.
How many people buy a new pickup from the big 3 lineup and then plunck down another 10, 20, 30+ grand lifting it, tires & wheels, all the this and that's that a mall cruiser must have. The same can be done with a Ridgeline.
GM, Ram & Ford all have recent recalls on their trucks.
For those having problems towing with a FWD, your cure may be as easy as adding air bags to get the rear back to where it started before the hitch was loaded.

Do you really need 4 wheel drive?

 

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DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
lifting it, tires & wheels, all the this and that's that a mall cruiser must have. The same can be done with a Ridgeline.
When you said that I had to look it up and guess I shouldn't be surprised that you can. Appears to be primarily spacer lifts.

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Do you really need 4 wheel drive?
The question you're asking is philosophical, do you really need to drive on unimproved roads and explore backcountry routes? I use my truck primarily for recreation so it spends a majority of the time in 4WD and low range. The time spent in 2WD is typically on highways during a trip, so the accumulated miles might be 90% highway the operating time would be 50/50 2WD-high and 4WD-low.
 

Clutch

<---Pass
Unibody truck perspective - 1971-2003 Chrysler & 1971-1995 GM full size vans were unibody with passenger car engines.
We had both in our construction fleet. Both did fine loaded down. A van does an advantage over a pickup that the body acts as a support. Honda had to beef up the chassis in areas to get the stiffness that is needed to have unibody in truck form.

Do you really need 4 wheel drive?
Nope, don't need 4WD to go off-road. :D



When you said that I had to look it up and guess I shouldn't be surprised that you can. Appears to be primarily spacer lifts.

View attachment 502484
The first gen they ran in Baja had Kings but that was a full on custom shop job, not sure if there are strut kits.

http://www.fourwheeler.com/project-vehicles/129-0605-desert-race--honda-ridgelin/



 
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Dalko43

Explorer
Unibody truck perspective - 1971-2003 Chrysler & 1971-1995 GM full size vans were unibody with passenger car engines. Many were not grocery getters but loaded down fleet vehicles running dirt roads for construction, power line maintenance etc. The bodies didn't fall apart or get tweaked due to the lack of an additional frame.
I owned a 78 Dodge B100 Quigley conversion for several years and it held up fine offroad.
How many people buy a new pickup from the big 3 lineup and then plunck down another 10, 20, 30+ grand lifting it, tires & wheels, all the this and that's that a mall cruiser must have. The same can be done with a Ridgeline.
GM, Ram & Ford all have recent recalls on their trucks.
For those having problems towing with a FWD, your cure may be as easy as adding air bags to get the rear back to where it started before the hitch was loaded.

Do you really need 4 wheel drive?

What percentage of people take their BMW M4's and Porsche 911's to the track on a regular basis, or even at all?

If that number is somewhere around 5%, does that mean companies should stop making high performance RWD cars?

Some people actually need the full capability of a 4wd BOF truck. Some people just want to own one for daily commutes. Regardless of an individual's personal motivation, the conventional BOF truck design does have a functional role, which has yet to be fully embraced by the unibody CUV/truck designs. And so long as the demand for those conventional trucks exists, whether it be based on need or want, companies will oblige the market.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The first gen they ran in Baja had Kings but that was a full on custom shop job, not sure if there are strut kits.
I'm not aware of any aftermarket MacPherson strut kits. It's enough different that I think the stress of using the shock to also locate the wheel replacing an upper arm would make manufacturers run, not walk, away from that application. The one in your photo looks like King seriously upgraded the shafts. There's obviously a lot of options for MacPherson suspensions but I'd think mostly for cars for tracks and perhaps rally (e.g. I suspect there's a ton of Subaru stuff and they can be lifted, too, mostly blocks AFAIK though). But dunno about threaded body or oversized shocks like we often use.
 
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