2016 Best Drives: The Amazing Mercedes-Maybach s600

By Bob Long

Looking back at 2016 in and all the great press vehicles loaned to me by the car manufactures there a number that jump out for various reasons.  When it comes to ultra “price no object” luxury automobiles it is hard to beat the Mercedes Maybach.  The back seat of this vehicles is one finest places you will ever spend in any automobile.  The experience is more like your own private jet plane.

Between 2004 and 2012, Mercedes-Benz resurrected the long-dead Maybach name to target the world’s ultra-wealthy with its most luxurious sedans. The Maybach brand never really caught on with the exception of a few Hollywood stars and an occasional rap artist.  So this year Mercedes has taken a more modest approach. This new for 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 (there is  no “Benz” in the name, officially) stays under the Mercedes brand umbrella and is related to the current generation S-Class, but its purpose is still to take on Rolls-Royce and Bentley brands.

I remember when I was on the Motor Trend staff a day in LA in which Maybach executives gave the staff an up close and personal ride and drive.  We were all impressed with interior and some of the technology but a number of staff members lead by this writer  questioned the styling.  To check out the reaction in Car Crazy Beverly Hills we took a Maybach 57 through a McDonald’s drive through to see if we got any comments or questions.  The answer was none what so ever.  Heads did not spin on Rodeo drive as we motored by in this large $300,000 plus vehicle=bad sign.

Mercedes is  very proud of its  S-class as it should be in every way. The luxury sedan is not only a technology leader, it also outsells the Audi A8 and the BMW 7-series combined. What a contrast to the Maybach 57 and 62, which was largely unchanged for more than 10 years. Based on the W140 S-class, the Maybach was already somewhat outdated even when brand new.

In creating a hyper luxury sedan this time around, Daimler played it safe and created a much better car. The new Mercedes-Maybach S600 is a Mercedes-Benz S600 with an extra 7.9 inches of wheelbase and an unprecedented level of equipment. It will cost just over half as much as the previous Maybach, which retailed for $379,000 in 2013.  Although my test vehicle loaded with a few options came to $230K, the new Maybach is a relative bargain.

Despite the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 is shorter than the old Maybach 57, and thus far more maneuverable, it offers more room in the rear passenger compartment.  Both rear seats recline like business-class seats on an aircraft, and together with extending footrests, they make it easy to work, watch a movie, or simply fall asleep. Daimler claims it offers the quietest rear passenger compartment of any car in production. I believe it without doubt.

Powered by the familiar 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12, a 36-valve engine rated at 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque, the Mercedes-Maybach accelerates with punch. The company claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds. Very impressive for such a large heavy vehicle.

There is no mistaking that this is a large car, yet the driving experience is hardly different from that of a regular S-class. My test car was equipped with an air suspension that reacts to camera scanned road surface data. Mercedes-Benz has refined this system to a remarkable level since our experience with a prototype years ago.

Maybach-Exclusive Touches include silver plated champagne flutes in the rear compartment.  Other Maybach-exclusive interior features include bespoke wood trim inspired by the S-class coupe as well as hand-stitched leather on the door panels. A full-length center console with deployable work tables is optional.

The changes to the exterior are rather more convincing. Aside from the extra length, the front and rear fascias are based on those of the standard S-class ) but receive an extra dose of chrome. The greenhouse is restyled with a rear-quarter window in the C-pillar. there are exclusive colors and unique  20-inch bowl-shaped aluminum wheels that are not available on any other S-class.

In a straight line it performs like royalty, with a large horseshoe brace preventing the back end from getting flexy.   All of the great technology of the S class is in place making the  ride and drive experience from the driver’s seat  quite good.   It is so much better than the original Maybach models.

It doesn’t look like or feel like a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce cabin. and that is good and that’s why this new formula works. The Bentley Mulsanne starts at $303,700,  huge leaps beyond the $189,350 Maybach S600 . Yes, in its appointments the S600 Maybach is the supremely nice Mercedes S class cabin but with all diamond-quilted seating surfaces, contrasting wood and Nappa leather, and a stitched leather headliner and couple of extra pillow for the back seat passengers. The Maybach gets minor exclusives like certain wood and chrome trim on the doors, and Agarwood as a scent for the atomizer.

The Burmester audio system is world-class and the rear passenger area (according to Merecedes that is where a lot of owners will ride) is a taste of the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.   To quote the old line Champaign Wishes and Caviar dreams all come true when you own a Mercedes Machbach S 600.

Congratulations Mercedes on the creation of the magnificent 2016 Mercedes- Maybach S 600.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-RWD

Highlights

Performance

Luxury at its finest

Comfort

Tecnology

V-12 engine

Lowlights

Fuel economy not great but if your buying on who cares?

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 10

Handling 7

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 5

Audio System 9

Performance 7

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 9

All New 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Double Cab makes a good truck better.

By Bob Long

Toyota has pretty much dominated  the midsize truck market in recent years. As a matter of fact half of the midsize trucks sold in the U.S. are Tacoma’s. It’s no wonder why. The Tacoma has a solid reputation based on excellent capability, reliability and an inherent tough demeanor. Yet new rivals have been introduced in this once-stagnant segment, and now the Tacoma faces tough competition from the refined Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, as well as the Nissan Frontier. For 2016, Toyota has built upon what Tacoma fans like about the truck, while improving key features like fuel efficiency, noise levels in the cab, and overall refinement. It all comes to market wrapped in bold, attractive new styling.

The Toyota Tacoma is highly versatile, with proven off-road capability and the best payload capacity in its class. Buyers can choose from two engines, two cabs, two bed lengths and 2- or 4-wheel drive, plus the new Tacoma is much easier to park in a garage than a full-size truck. For 2016 Toyota’s midsize truck is essentially all new, with new styling, a new V6 engine and transmission, a more refined and quieter interior, more capability, and new features.

I recently drove a 2016 Toyota Tacoma V6 Double Cab, backed by the all-new 6-speed automatic transmission. The new drivetrain offers more power while also improving fuel economy. Acceleration is strong and steady, although far from fast. Acceleration from 0-60 seconds will take you in the high 7 second range.   Overall it is a clear improvement in power over the 2015 model.

Changes to the suspension plus tweaks to the frame make the 2016 Tacoma feel more planted and more stable on-road. Handling feels better, and the ride is comfortable and compliant. The brakes, still discs in front and drums in the rear, feel confident and strong.. The cabin is much quieter, and has a fresh new look. However, whether you opt for the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road or Limited, you will not be getting power seats as they are unavailable. Off-road, the new Tacoma is tough and highly capable, and the optional Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select make trail adventures a breeze.

With optional Crawl Control, with the truck in low range, you set the system’s speed, and it manages acceleration and braking. All you need to focus on is steering. Multi-Terrain Select automatically matches the type of ground you want to cover (snow, ruts, etc.) to the proper transmission, throttle and brake settings.

There are hidden spots underneath the back seats that serve as good places to stow small items you’d rather keep out of view. If you want a flat cargo area in the cabin, fold down the rear seats. The seatbacks are flat and covered in plastic, creating a home for not so clean gear.

The Toyota Tacoma is highly versatile, with proven off-road capability and the best payload capacity in its class. Buyers can choose from two engines, two cabs, two bed lengths and 2- or 4-wheel drive, plus the new Tacoma is much easier to park in a garage than a full-size truck.  The Tacoma is not the most fuel-efficient truck in its class, nor does it offer the best towing capacity.

Recently I drove a 2016 Toyota Tacoma V6 Double Cab, backed by the all-new 6-speed automatic transmission for a whole week.. The new drivetrain offers more power while also improving fuel economy.

The Tacoma gets an all-new modern refined interior for 2016, with new, high-quality materials, new seats (and a new seating position) and a bevy of cool available features. Items like push-button start and a moonroof option are segment firsts. There’s also a handy multi-information display, where you can look at fuel economy, outside temperature, and even off-road info, such as the trail mode the Tacoma is in and the angle the Tacoma is at when on a steep hill. The new Tacoma also comes with a new version of Entune, the connectivity and entertainment control center, and Qi wireless charging.

Exterior styling wise you can tell this is still a Tacoma, new styling cues like LED daytime running lights and an exterior design inspired by Toyota’s off-road race history set it apart from past trucks. There are five trim levels – SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited –each of which gets different front-end styling. The bed is still composite-lined and contains two useful storage bins, but is now deeper so it can carry more cargo. The tailgate is damped for easier opening and locks for added security. My test truck had the excellent  optional 3-piece hard tonneau cover..  This a first time offering straight rom the factory. My test truck also had the optional towing package.

Sticker price with options was $40,020.  Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, a basic version of Entune connectivity, an automatic limited-slip differential, eight airbags, a lockable tailgate, adjustable tie-down cleats in the bed, 16-inch wheels, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. One exclusive on all 2016 Tacoma trucks, however, is a mount for a GoPro camera and I though a journalist had left behind from another test drive..

My test truck ah such creature comforts including push-button start with Smart Key, leather seats, Entune with a full App suite, a JBL sound system, and heated seats.

Under the Hood was a 3.5 liter V 6 putting out 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque.It is not the smoothest V-6 in the marketplace but gets the job done.  EPA numbers for my test vehicle came in at 28 city a 23 Mpg highway.

Toyota has taken a good truck and made it better If like Tacoma’s you are going to love the all new 2016 model.

 

Front Engine-4 X 4

Highlights

JBL audio system

Factory Tonneau cover

New Creature comforts

Lowlights

No available power seats

Engine Refinement Could be Better

Fuel Economy also could be better

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 6

Interior styling and quality 6

Handling 5

Braking 5

Fuel Economy 6

Audio System 8

Navigation System 8

Performance 7

 

2017 Best Drives— MercedesAMG C63 S Coupe

By Bob Long

I remember the first time back in Boston around 2009 when I got a week test drive in C63 AMG Sedan.  The massive V-8 power plant stuffed into this compact car combined with an exhaust note right out heaven,  I still remember it so fondly.  The exhaust  sounded like a German World War II howitzer cannon and I loved it.

Fast forward to recently when I was blown away by one best drives of the past year.  First off styling wise it is absolutely breathtaking in full zoot S trim.  This is one beautiful machine from every angle.  The 2017 Mercedes AMG C63S Coupe is simply stunning.

For those not familiar with AMG.  The former separate tuner company beat its path to high-performance credibility with a hammer. The German speed shop’s first street car, the 355-hp 1987 ( assembled by Porsche) Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer sedan, set the record for the world’s fastest production four-door at 178 mph, then set the pace for the subsequent 30-year parade of raucous, tire-shredding AMG brutes.

The speed shop is now part of Mercedes and has in rent years produced the incredible SLS AMG Gull wing and the current AMG GT Coupe.  As of late, more civilized cars and the use of all-wheel drive suggest that today’s AMG swings its hammer a little more softly in exchange for greater chassis control and improved traction. That is upsetting period.  Loud and brash machines like the  C63 S AMG coupe are increasingly rare and that is a shame.

The new 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S coupe doesn’t come off as a brute at first glance. Twin turbochargers muffle the small-displacement 4.0-liter V-8, and the exhaust terminates in a quartet of pea shooter tailpipes hidden behind the jumbo trapezoid openings in the rear bumper.

Yet pin the throttle and this more efficient engine is almost as wild as the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 that it replaces. The high-output C63 S model packs a 503-hp sledge of an engine that pummels the concrete, while a seven-speed automatic bangs through ratios and a bawdy, unmistakably eight-cylinder thunder blares. In true traction-be-damned AMG fashion, it sends all 516 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels.

Among its peers, the C63 remains the biggest bruiser. The C63 S holds a 78-hp advantage over the BMW M4 and a 39-hp edge on the Cadillac ATS-V. Non-S C63 models make 469 horsepower and 479 lb-fts till at the front of the pack, but you should pass on the upgraded S only if the extra eight to ten grand would bankrupt you. Beyond the extra power, the S version adds the option of carbon-ceramic brake discs on the front axle and replaces the mechanical limited-slip differential with an electronically controlled unit. It also augments the mode selector with a Race setting to relax the stability control, stiffen the dampers, and sharpen the shifts beyond Sport+.

AMG eagerly points out that the C63 coupe is not just a C63 sedan with two fewer doors. Engineers in  gifted the coupe with a shorter final-drive ratio 3.06:1 in the two-door versus 2.85:1 in the sedan for quicker acceleration. Helped by a 100-pound weight advantage, the C63 S coupe should tear down a straight one tick ahead of the four-door, clearing 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.  Starting price for the pretty loaded machine is $75,925.  No longer does 6.3 V8 or to be correct a 6.2 liter V8 resides under the hood.  Todays C63 s uses
4.0-liter turbocharged 8-cylinder engine producing 503 hp and 516 lb-ft through a; 7-speed automatic transmission.  Mileage is rated at 17 city and 23 highway but really who cares?

The coupe also receives a unique rear suspension; it isn’t shared with either the C63 sedan or the less powerful C-class coupes. In pursuit of a more rigid assembly, AMG rearranged the upper links, replaced several bushings with ball joints, and widened the rear track by 1.7 inches compared with the AMG sedan. The wider rear stance should make the coupe more susceptible to understeer than the sedan, although we can’t say that’s definitively the case without driving the two back-to-back.

Even with the extra rear-end grip, the C63 S coupe does a nice job getting its front tires to bite and lead the car around a road course on fresh rubber. The steering is hefty and accurate, though largely unfeeling. But as the Michelin Pilot Super Sports heat up, the car becomes a 3800-pound pendulum, scrubbing the front tires in one corner and then swinging the back wide in the next. If you’re a track rat logging your lap times, the BMW and Cadillac are better choices. True to its predecessor, though, the C63 makes drifting as easy as tapping your big toe.

The interior is equally exquisite as the exterior design the Burmester audio system is fantastic.  The aero pieces are killer and compliment the sexy lines so well.

This is  a car that feels most at home on the road, where it’s an effortless and luxurious means to driving wickedly fast well within the car’s limits. It offers thrust at any rpm and comfort in any task. Public streets also are where the differences between the new and old car are most evident. On the road, the 2017 C63 feels more refined and its cornering abilities go deeper than that of its predecessor.

The pricing can escalade into six figures with all options checked but like my other favorite coupe the Jaguar F Type now available in SVR trim for 2017 is worth every penny.   I love coupes and I love this car.  Hand down it is one best drives of the year.

For those  lucky folks with means fall in love with the AMG C63S Coupe and you will be in automotive nirvana.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-RWD

Highlights

Performance

The Engine

SEX on Wheels styling

Comfort

Lowlights

No AWD option for some who want all power to the ground

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 10

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 8

Braking 8

Fuel Economy 6

Audio System 9

Performance 10

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 76

 

2017 Honda V-6 Touring Coupe Quality with a little added fun.

By Bob Long

It’s been a long time since I have been behind the wheel of Honda Accord Coupe. Recently I had the opportunity to sample a Touring V-6 coupe and came away from the experience with a smile on my face.

I still like the Accord Coupe’s exterior lines, and there’s more space in the back seat than you might expect. The dash layout is typical Honda good, and the company seems to have made some changes to its dual-screen stereo/nav/bluetooth setup that make it significantly easier to master.   However the with no volume knob it can frustrating operating the entertainment system.

Driving around greater Orlando FL the coupe drew its share of admirers.  People exclaimed “nice car!” and “that’s cool, what is it?” during my time behind this Accord’s wheel. I’d say Honda’s styling department did something right. This is probably the best-looking Accord to date, or at least the most aggressively styled.  This also a vehicle that quite a few modern designs looks better in person than in pictures.

The most interesting thing about this Accord, which may or may not be surprising, is that it’s actually fast. It does things you don’t expect a standard Honda to do including torque steer, and squealing tires, real performance fun. The automatic mated to the 3.5-liter V6 did a fine job at managing the 278 hp and the 252 lb-ft of torques.

During my time on the highway, the Accord proved docile and comfortable the cabin was virtually free of wind and road noise, the seat was supportive and the infotainment system was very good.  While the power delivery might surprise, the rest of the car feels perfectly Honda. The brakes work well, but don’t send you much feedback. The steering feels is light and numb, but still does a decent job.

If you’re looking for something more subdued than an outright performance car, the Accord will still scratch your itching desire for speed.

The 3.5-L V6 and is emission certified at the LEV3-ULEV125-rating. What’s that all about?  Well, the engine and the Accord overall has really low emissions. This pays off by not only being green, but if you happen to work in a LEED certified building you may get a closer-in parking space that’s required to be reserved to encourage clean-vehicles as part of the LEED rating.

I enjoyed my drive time with the Accord Touring V6. Acceleration is quite impressive and the fuel gauge never seemed to move. And when pushed, the engine isn’t overly noisy. Zero to 60 mph is in the low-6 second range. Overall ride and handling are very confident and composed . Interstate on-ramps are taken with ease and there isn’t much body roll.

The Accord Coupe rides on 40-series tires on 19-inch wheels, making it a little rough riding at times especially for those buyers not used to sport or sporty cars like the Accord

The interior is quite roomy with good seat comfort and an overall high-quality feel. The push button start is easy to locate with its bright red coloring. There’s a 7-inch touch screen for audio control but no physical knobs for tuning or volume. There’s a volume control on the steering wheel that works quite well, but that doesn’t help the front passenger.

I love Honda’s Lane Watch feature that displays an image in the center screen of the right lane next to the car when the right turn signal is on. It’s great for checking for bicyclists.

There’s also heated front and rear seats, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.

The full suite of Honda Sensing safety technology is standard on the Accord Touring V6. It includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning with automatic braking, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation.

The forward collision alert is a bit sensitive flashing its “Brake!” visual flash alarm.  The 2017 Accord Sedan has received the highest available crash safety rating, a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA.

This new safety technology that has become available on more and more new vehicles really is proving beneficial to help reduce even minor collisions. If I had a young new driver in my family I would want them driving a car with this safety equipment.

The 2017 Honda Accord pulls off quite a feat when it comes to style: It looks handsome, contemporary, yet timeless. This is a well-proportioned vehicle whose design will likely hold up well as the years pass. The Accord coupe looks elegant, sporty and more expensive than it is. The 3.5-liter V6 delivers decent power and is rated at 21 city and 32 MPG highway. A top-line Accord Touring model sits above $35,000 in coupe form like my test model

For those a little more style in their Accord and some performance fun the V6 Accord delivers a great driving experience and is good entry into the world of performance coupes.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Safety features

The ability to light up the tires in an Honda Accord

 

Lowlights

Pesky Touch screen

No volume nob just a sliding digital scale on the entertainment system face

No AWD option

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 6

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 8

Audio System 6

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 6

 

2016 Ford Explorer Platinum = Great Luxury SUV

By Bob Long

Recently I had the opportunity to sample the reworked Explorer for 2016 and in particular had extra drive time in the all new Flagship model the Platinum edition.

I love Range Rover’s think of this as an American Blue Oval alternative  with a much lower price tag. With a base price starting at $53,000, the Explorer Platinum aims for customers who simply “want everything” in a simple  prepackaged model.  The folks at Ford say there are quite a few of those buyers out there in the marketplace.

Platinum is also meant to lure customers away from imports that may not have as much interior room or capability for the money, and also encourage folks who might be looking at a Yukon Denali despite not needing the traditional truck like body on frame construction with all negatives that comes from that setup including rough ride and poor handling.

If love loaded SUV’s the Explorer Platinum gets pretty much every option from a 3.5-liter Ecoboost twin-turbo V6 under the hood to quilted-leather door panels, massaging front seats and heated second-row seats.

Ford has also joined the growing number of automakers offering birds-eye camera systems on their large size machines. The Explorer goes a step further with a front side-view camera that “peeks” around corners at blind intersections and the like, plus washer-fluid sprayers for the front and rear cameras. Those of you in southern states may find that silly, but if you contend with snow and salt six months of the year, the camera washers are a face-palm innovation you’ll be thrilled to have.

Otherwise, the story here is coddling accoutrements and loads of tech: Aluminum and ash trim on the instrument panel and doors, a wood-and-leather-covered heated steering wheel, Smart USB ports for faster charging, park assist (parallel and perpendicular), lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and a panoramic moon roof. Ford also made noise about its new 500-watt Sony audio system.  Although megawatt multi speaker stereos are nothing new. After spending time with a wide variety of music on the Sony system as the resident audiophile at North America Driver, I can attest to its consistently stunning soundstage.

The 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine doesn’t make this hefty beast fast; rather, it delivers on Ford’s marketing refrain about delivering V8 power in a V6 package. A healthy 365-hp output and 350 lb feet of torque, and it simply moves the Explorer along with ease in any situation. There is no turbo lag its seamless across the power band.Ford claims 5,000 pounds of towing capability for the EcoBoost V6; its use for years now in the F-150 should allay any durability concerns.

I love the a terrain-management AWD system that adjusts parameters based on conditions, chosen using a console-mounted knob with normal, snow, sand and mud settings. None offer this much sheer bang, though: There’s little doubt the Explorer Platinum gives buyers just about everything they could dream up in terms of equipment; the fact it still slots in tens of thousands of dollars below an equivalent Mercedes-Benz (or GMC Yukon Denali, for that matter.

The 2016 Explorer brings new looks, new technology, and new thinking to Ford’s ubiquitous midsize SUV. The refreshed exterior borrows from Land Rover’s styling, and the new interior brings more refinements and ease of use, especially for shorter buyers, or those put off by Ford’s touch-sensitive control interfaces and earlier versions of MyFord Touch.  I love that Ford has replaced or some of the touch screens with real buttons and knobs.  In other cases there are redundant buttons to compliment the touch screen

The Ford Explorer seats up to seven in its three rows, and thanks to its overall size even the third row offers room for adults. The second row comes as either a 3-person bench, or it can be had with two bucket seats. Fold both seating rows and you have generous cargo space.

The exterior styling updates to the new Ford Explorer don’t alter the basic silhouette of the SUV, but the details are quite nice. The new standard LED low-beam headlights, grille, and bumper in front give this mainstream SUV a first-glance resemblance to a Land Rover Range Rover. Changes to the rear are more subtle, and mostly consist of new tail lights.

The new Platinum model comes with premium  high-end leather, leather-covered dash, and other luxury items. It is a great place to spend time. The Platinum model comes loaded at base price of $53,000 its Eco-Boost V-6 delivers 16 mpg city and 22 highway This is least expensive luxury SUV on the market. The Explorer Platinum gives buyers just about everything they could dream up in terms of equipment; the fact it still slots in tens of thousands of dollars below an equivalent Mercedes-Benz or GMC Yukon Denali.

Its time to take a second look at the Explorer as the 2016 model is much improved and if you are thinking luxury SUV put the Platinum model on your shopping list.  You may just save yourself thousands of dollars over other comparative models.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Engine

Interior design and materials

Terrain Management System

Sony Sound System

Buttons and Knobs insread of 100% touchscreen

Lowlights

Not as off road capable as Jeep Cherokee

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 7

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 6

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 6

Audio System 9

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10

 

 

The Non Truck-Truck 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition is Pure Joy

By Bob Long

I said on my national radio program AutoWorld with guest Mark Williams Editor and Chief at pickup trucks.com I was not going to title my print review “the non Truck Truck” but I have decided to do it anyway.  I really like the Black Edition and the title is on target.

Again, I did not expect to like this second generation Ridgeline that much but I liked it a lot  Both Mark and I were Editors at Motor Trend when the first generation took home the Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award.  But this second generation us so much better and this special edition is a knockout.  All black inside and out and running on set of black wheels the truck got positive feedback everywhere I drove greater Orlando FL

The Honda Ridgeline returns to a reinvigorated midsize pickup segment after a two-year absence. The fully redesigned 2017 Honda Ridgeline hangs on to what made it unique while introducing improvements that make it  a lot more functional and it will attract a wider audience.

The new Ridgeline still has more in common with Honda’s midsize SUV, the Pilot, than other trucks in the segment. The wheelbase has been stretched to accommodate a truck bed and the suspension components have added beef, but the Ridgeline still delivers a car like ride and manageable handling which in my opinion is good for that certain type of truck buyer.

The Ridgeline also gets an upgraded 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed transmission, a good combination that’s 30-horsepower stronger than generation one Ridgeline.  It puts out 280 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque.  EPA mileage numbers for my all wheel Drive test model
18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.  My load all wheel drive test truck came in price wise at around $44,000.

The Honda Ridgeline still only come in a single crew cab with short bed configuration. But this time around the forward cabin is as attractive and inviting as a Pilot, and is available with the Pilot’s full range of the latest tech and safety features. Meanwhile, the back row retains the class-leading legroom and unique folding rear seat that made the original Ridgeline so flexible and accommodating.

The old styling cues have been scrapped in favor of a more traditional bed design. The change makes it easier to reach into the forward end, and it allowed a 3.2-inch wheelbase stretch that enabled a longer bed. Now 66 inches long, the Ridgeline’s bed is 2.3 inches longer than a Chevrolet Colorado’s and 3.5 inches longer than a Toyota Tacoma’s. As for the Ridgeline’s signature in-bed trunk and dual-action tailgate, they’re still here and as fantastic as ever.

But some aspects of the Ridgeline still trail the competition. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system now has driver-selectable terrain settings, but crossover SUV levels of clearance and suspension articulation limit it to light-duty dirt-roading. And while it is well suited to towing 5,000 pounds, those who want to tow more will need to look elsewhere.

The return of a much-improved 2017 Honda Ridgeline makes the midsize truck segment an interesting place. With the off-roady Toyota Tacoma on one end, the shrunken full-size familiarity of the Chevrolet Colorado in the middle and the practical and smooth-driving Honda Ridgeline at the other end, midsize truck buyers have a wide spectrum of choices.

The 2017 Honda Ridgeline masters the careful balance between midsize truck and quiet, refined SUV. The cabin’s dimensions are essentially the same as they were in the last-generation Ridgeline, meaning that front and rear seats are pleasantly roomy for five people. The design is crisp and fresh, with greatly improved materials, and features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated seats and an 8-inch touch screen. If you want to carry gear inside, push the 60/40-split rear seat against the back of the cab to allow space for a bicycle or a 55-inch flat screen TV.

All Ridgeline’s come standard with  active noise cancellation, hill-start assist, and 18-inch wheels. Also standard are a rearview camera and the useful dual-action tailgate, eight tie-down cleats, truck bed lights, an in-bed trunk, and Intelligent Traction Management. Also in every Ridgeline are power windows with (front) auto-up/down, push-button start, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping wheel, air conditioning with filtration, and Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio. There are plenty of safety systems, including collision-mitigation braking, road-departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot information with cross traffic, and LaneWatch. , adaptive cruise control, navigation, an acoustic windshield, truck bed audio, a 400-watt truck bed outlet, 3-zone climate control, leather seats, and heated front seats are options. The top stereo is a 540-watt, 8-speaker system which sounded great in my test Truck

Americans love trucks and my auto journalist friends have told me stories of the Texas State fair turning into a Truck international Auto Show. There’s a long-held set of ideas that many truck buyers consider obligatory  a body-on-frame platform is chief among them, along with purpose-built hardware like four wheel drive transfer cases and a solid rear axle.

I say this not a truck for that crowd but rather a different more Urban/suburbanite part-time truck most time a  small family SUV.  As I said earlier The Ridgeline’s awarded in-bed trunk makes a return in the second generation pickup, allowing for secured storage under the floor of the bed that also incorporates a drain plug at the bottom so it can also be used as an ice chest.
Adding to the Ridgeline’s tailgating prowess is the Truck Bed Audio function which uses the Ridgeline’s bed as an outdoor sound system. It might seem like a gimmicky feature at first, but in practice it sounds surprisingly good. Paired with the bed’s additional features, like a 400w power outlet and a dual action tailgate that can swing either down or out, the Ridgeline might be the most versatile party-mobile and Tailgate party king on sale today.  I think it just plain cool.  The 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black edition is pure joy to drive and packs a great bang for buck

 

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Truck bed audio system

Lowlights

Not for the hardcore Truck person

Some interior plastics could be better quality

 

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 7

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 7

Audio System 9

Performance 5

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10

Navigation 9