Future Honda Ridgeline, Bad Subarus and Nissan Versa Questions? [Ask Nathan]

Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept for 2018 SEMA Show.

It would be awesome if the future Honda Ridgeline looked something like this Honda Rugged Open Air Concept – but it won’t.

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference.

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Any future Honda Ridgeline information?  
  • Are all Subarus bad?
  • Is the new Nissan Versa any good?

The first question comes from a viewer who wants information about the future Honda Ridgeline.

This is an old sketch of the Honda Ridgeline. It looks sleeker and more truck-ish than the current model. The new one may have more going on underneath – hopefully. (Image: Honda)

Q: Via Twitter (@NathanAdlen): Love my 2017 Honda Ridgeline. It’s my best vehicle ever. But it could use improvements.

What do you think about the future Honda Ridgeline? Will it get better mileage? That’s the one thing I think it needs.


A: Hi May!

We hear that there are some real changes coming for the future Honda Ridgeline. Keep in mind, while the Ridgeline’s sales numbers hover around 2,600 units per month, (just over 1/10th of Tacoma sales) it is good seller for Honda.

Having real updates and unique upgrades could boost sales significantly.

This is what the current Ridgeline looks like. [Photo: Honda]

There are a lot of rumors running around about the future Honda Ridgeline powertrain. Possibly as early as 2020, we may see a new ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. This transmission is already used in the Pilot and Passport (among others) and it could significantly increase highway mpg.

Many forums and fan-sites talk about a hybrid or plug-in hybrid system coming in the next few years. Both systems are said to increase power, torque and efficiency. One possible system in the hybrid could use an electric power system to aid the gas engine.

The plug-in hybrid could be a four-cylinder mixed with several electric motors that power the rear wheels, similar to other AWD hybrids currently available. Some speculate that this plug-in system could make the Ridgeline a true hybrid/electric vehicle with a large enough battery pack to allow all-electric driving, using the gas motor as a generator.

[Photo: TFLcar]

Design changes

A refreshed front end is most likely in the cards. Honda may simplify the nose or change the grill for efficiency and cooling. This could be especially true if they use new engines.

I suspect they will use updated lights, LEDs for the most part, perhaps a slightly updated rear taillight as well.

Interior changes may be limited to new electronics and an updated infotainment system. There should be some interior design updates as well. This will bring it in line with the more modern interior of the Honda Passport. It’s quite possible that the next Honda Ridgeline may also receive Honda’s next generation passenger side airbag as well.

The guys from TopSpeed have considered the possibility of a Honda Ridgeline Type R. So, if this happened, what would it be? While it’s kind of unlikely, it would be fun to see what a beefed up suspension and tire/wheel package would do for performance. While we’re at it, why not shoehorn a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 out of the Acura NSX in there?

As I said, this one is pretty doubtful.

This image on TFLtruck.com is from a comparison we did a few years back.

Other possible updates

The Honda Sensing safety system should be standard soon. A Honda fanboy told me that he heard that there may be a trick tailgate, similar to the one used in the GMC Sierra 1500. Some speculate a tire and wheel upgrade as well.

That’s about all I have. I hope they keep or increase its utility, capability and performance while keeping the prices (somewhat) manageable.

We’ll see soon!


(Photo: TFLcar)

The next question comes from a former Subaru fan who has some issues with today’s Subaru.

Q: What’s up Nateman? I know you’re not reviewing many Subarus which is stupid of Subaru.

Seriously, but you don’t kiss up to them like everyone else. Here’s my problem, I absolutely hated my 2015 Subaru Outback. It drank oil like a leaking oil tanker and it had no power. The minute I finish my payments, which is early next year I want to kick it to the curb.

My problem is YOU! Seriously you threw a monkey wrench in my plans when you actually said the Subaru Forester was pretty good and you gushed about your friend’s new Crosstrek. Tommy and Roman seemed to like the Ascent too. Does this mean that Subaru is improving? Should I give them another chance?

I need AWD real bad. I live in snow country and having AWD is a real plus. So I want to know if I should even consider a new Subaru or not?


(Photo: TFLcar)

A: Howdy Bud!

Man, I wish I could give you more information than I already have about Subaru. The past few cars we sampled were pretty damn good; however, we have seen owners (including our own staff) complain about oil loss in their Subarus.

I still maintain that the new Subaru Crosstrek manual I drove was awesome.

This is a difficult question. Subaru builds a safe car with a good AWD system, but some of their reputation has been soiled with CVT and oil issues. I can’t predict future reliability of Subaru product. If you are truly disenfranchised by Subaru’s products, maybe looking at an alternative will help with your piece of mind?

I have been very impressed with Hyundai and Kia’s crossovers recently. They have a great AWD system, good power and top notch value. Also, they have a killer warranty – something I think you’ll like to have.

Mazda and Volkswagen build some interesting alternatives too. I am a huge fan of the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. The Buick Regal TourX is underrated and can be had for quite a bargain if you negotiate hard.

Best of luck!


The last question comes from a fan who wants to buy a new Nissan Versa.

Q: Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) Thinking about the 2020 Nissan Versa with the manual transmission!

I priced one out for about 16K. I want to know if this is a good idea?


A: Hi Sean!

I haven’t driven the new Versa and I don’t know anyone who’s driven the manual version. With what I’ve seen it appears to a better car than the one it replaces. I will say that I’m impressed with its standard equipment and new design.

I applaud your choice of a manual transmission too. While I can only speculate that it’s sportier than the CVT, (it most likely is) I find that owners of Nissan products who opt for a manual transmission seem to have less issues than the CVT-equipped versions.

If you’re looking for an alternate to compare – I highly recommend the current Toyota Yaris iA.

Let us know what happens!


Check out this new/old Lexus GS 350 review!

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com.