Tuesday, April 04, 2006

One useless truck against another, AutoBlog talks Sport Trac vs Ridgeline

I'm on the record as not being a fan of either the Ford Explorer SportTrac or the Honda Ridgeline, but if you need to buy a useless truck, buy the Ford. In a piece over at AutoBlog they discuss an article from the Detroit News comparing the SportTrac and Ridgeline. The new SportTrac is larger and offers a V8 at last, to the glee of devoted fans, it's also finally caught up with it's Explorer brother, with it's new fully independendt suspension and modern interior. Ford is expecting to sell between 50-60 thousand units per year as they have in the past.
Honda sold 53,000 Ridgelines it's first year and says they are satisfied, although the disapointment seems clear. Honda's Ridgeline is less trucklike than competitors, like the SportTrac, because it's a unibody vehicle. The SportTrac sits on a seperate frame, but one of the best truck frames you can find, and you won't find many squeaks or rattles, this isn't a 1976 F100. SportTrac will benefit from Ford's work on the Explorer, that has refined that model into one of the best riding truck based SUVs around. Both articles, AutoBlog and Detroit News make much about Honda's lockable "trunk" in the cargo bed, but that's always seemed like a bad idea to me. But maybe that's because unlike many reviewers or Honda employees, I drive a truck. How are you supposed to use that lockable storage area if you have any items in the bed of your truck? Or how about this, if you have a bed extender cage, like many people do, and is available on the SportTrac, that means you have to lower the tailgate, then remove the extender to unlock and open the "trunk". But you're thinking, "Joe, not everyone has or needs one of those bed extenders." Well if they need a truck and they buy either of these, then they need the extender. My biggest fault with both of these is the short bed.
Now this is a truck! A much more usable 5ft bed, that with the extender comes to 7ft and you can drive this to any "black tie" event, just like either of the others. The Ranger Crew Cab has been available world wide, with the exception of United States and Canada for several years. And what Ford should be wondering is not how many people are buying Ridgelines, but how many are buying Crew Cab Tacomas, Canyon/Colorados and Frontiers.

I know I'm biased toward the Ranger, but if my choices were limited to the Ridgeline and SportTrac, I'd buy a V6 SportTrac, it's a better value.


Shawn said...

A jeep is nearly useless to carry cargo or for an passenger comfort...Yet there is a market for it. It's selling a lifestyle and an image. The same goes for Sport Trac. I hate the name Sport Trac...What da heck is a "Trac?"

Big Ford Fan said...

Shawn, you hit the nail on the head, these are "Lifestyle" vehicles, aimed at Construction Foremen and Engineers who need to carry small loads, and want some comfort and style.

Sport Trac is one of those names you either like or hate, I'm not too fond of it either.

I know that Art from NLP Racing can't wait to get one of these. But I'd rather have a Crew Cab Ranger, maybe because I need a longer bed to haul stuff home from Home Depot. And of course I love the Ranger.