Racecar towing, lite

Racecar towing, lite

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Racecar towing, lite


Is the new Honda Ridgeline the tow rig amateur racers can live with?

Somewhere between the turbo diesel dually 1-ton truck towing the multi-car trailer to the track, and the autocrosser driving his car to an event, lives the Honda Ridgeline. For many weekend warriors, having a dedicated tow rig is not in the cards; having a vehicle that can serve as a commuter and family car plus handle relatively light-duty towing on the weekends, however, is.

If you want to tow with a Ridgeline, you really must opt for the all-wheel drive version, as the standard two-wheel drive trim limits you to a sparse 3,500lb towing limit – all-wheel drive steps the capacity up to a more reasonable 5,000lbs. While this may not seem like much capacity, it is more than adequate for recreational racers towing production-based cars on open trailers. We have even seen a few with smaller enclosed trailers in tow – just be sure to keep in mind the maximum load capacity and account for any cargo you are carrying, as well.

We hitched our open trailer with our Spec Miata behind the Ridgeline for a trip to the dyno. Our 70-mile journey offered a good mix of city and highway driving, and we found the Ridgeline to be more than up to the task of towing this load. You won’t mistake it for a turbo diesel truck when it comes time to climb a hill, but it is capable of getting you to your destination.

Over the course of our trip we averaged 16.4mpg towing, which is a solid number when dragging a car and trailer behind anything.

Perhaps the only thing lacking in the Ridgeline was a proper manual mode for the transmission. The “D4” option on the shifter allows the driver to lock out the top gears, which was useful in town, but being able to select and hold a gear would be beneficial for long climbs or during descents.

Upon initial inspection, the cargo area seems on the small side, but the hidden trunk below the bed is spacious and offers a secure place to keep trackside tools, leaving the bed open for extra tires, transmissions and the like. While not a full-sized truck bed, it’s likely big enough for most recreational racers. Offering more security, there are already aftermarket canopies that look way better than they did on the first generation of the Ridgeline.

The interior of our RTL-E tester was nicely appointed, offering comfort and features found in similarly equipped Honda sedans, and came with an as-tested price of $41,370.

Free from the trailer, around town the Ridgeline does the job of commuter and family car nicely, with enough room for the entire family to be comfortable, but compact enough for even difficult parking situations.

The Ridgeline won’t likely sway full-sized truck fans to the Honda fold, but for those looking for a family vehicle that can also tow a racecar, the Ridgeline might be the perfect fit.