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Honda Ridgeline In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Honda Ridgeline is a car-like truck that’s affordable, fuel-efficient and practical.

Buyers love the Ridgeline for its comfortable road manners, which are unlike that of any regular truck.

In this new article, we analyze the Ridgeline’s performance in snow and winter conditions.

Here is the short answer about whether the Honda Ridgeline is good for snow and winter driving:

The Ridgeline is ideal for winter driving thanks to a 3.5-liter V6 engine that helps it power through snow, slush and sleet. It has an all-wheel drive (AWD) drivetrain that increases stability on winter roads. Features such as stability assist, traction control, and ABS improve handling in winter.

Is a Honda Ridgeline Good in the Snow?

With its reliability, comfort and efficiency, the Honda Ridgeline already ranks among the best trucks available. The Ridgeline’s prowess in snow only increases its attractiveness, especially for those living in cold climates.

The Honda Ridgeline is good in snow for many reasons. One of the noteworthy reasons is its generous ride height that allows it to ford knee-deep snow easily.

The Ridgeline’s innovative AWD system also contributes to its awesome snow capabilities. This AWD system comes with Variable Torque Management that allows you lock the rear for up to 18 mph in reverse or forward.

With VTM active, the Ridgeline will almost always power through when stuck in snow.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

The Honda Ridgeline is one of the top contenders for best winter trucks. The reason is straightforward: the Ridgeline packs features that make driving in winter safe and comfortable. Here are some of those features:

Vehicle Stability Assist (Electronic Stability Control)

As with any other Honda vehicle, the Honda Ridgeline comes with the Vehicle Stability Assist System. This system is the reason the Ridgeline remains balanced even on slippery roads covered in ice, snow and slush.

The VSA system monitors several things at once so it can detect when your truck may lose its balance. These include wheel speed, yaw rate, and steering wheel angle.

Once loss of balance is imminent, the VSA will execute a series of actions to keep the truck stable. It will restrict the engine to slow down the vehicle-a slower vehicle has fewer chances of becoming unbalanced.

Then it will activate brakes on individual wheels to force the vehicle back into position (if it was veering off its original course).

The VSA gives you confidence when driving on icy or snowy roads because it stops your truck from slipping and losing balance. This contributes to a safer driving experience in winter on the Ridgeline.

Traction Control System

The Traction Control system is another feature that contributes to safe winter driving. It prevents extreme wheel spin in slippery road conditions, including ice and snow.

Usually, extreme wheel spin causes traction loss and may lead to vehicle skidding/slipping.

While driving, the TCS regularly tracks wheel motion to know when any wheel spins excessively. If one of your truck’s wheels starts spinning rapidly, Traction Control will reduce its speed to preempt traction loss.

TCS can reduce torque transferred from the engine to the wheels; the wheel will rotate at a slower pace when it loses power.

Also, it could exert brake pressure to force the wheel to decelerate. Sometimes, the TCS may require both actions to stop wheel spin.

Antilock Braking System

The Antilock Braking System is the reason you can brake safely on winter roads. Without ABS, your brakes would likely lock up when you slam them.

Your wheels locking up in high-speed situations isn’t something you want to encounter because it could cause a crash.

The ABS on your Ridgeline monitors your wheel speed in braking situations.

If a wheel decelerates rapidly under braking, the ABS will limit brake force to stop it from entering lockup. This way, your wheel regains mobility and your car doesn’t skid or crash.

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

The Electronic Brakeforce Distribution system is a component of your Ridgeline’s ABS system. But this doesn’t mean it is the same with the ABS. It curtails wheel lockup, but operates differently.

Unlike the ABS, the EBD mechanism cannot limit brake force applied on wheels. Rather, it facilitates a proportional transfer of brake force across your truck’s wheels.

What this does is that it shields your wheels from excessive brake pressure, which would cause them to seize.

Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel

Features previously discussed have been safety-focused, but winter driving isn’t about safety alone, comfort is important.

The Honda Ridgeline delivers on the comfort front such that driving in winter is devoid of its usual discomfort.

It features heated front seats and heated steering wheel, both designed to increase warmth. This lets you ward off the chill that comes with winter and ensures your drive remains enjoyable.

You should also read our article about driving the Honda Pilot in snow and winter.

Does a Ridgeline Have Snow Mode?

The Snow Mode feature is absent from the Ridgeline which is disappointing. But it makes up for it with the Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) system.

When active, the I-VTM4 will lock up your rear differential and help you power through when your truck is stuck in snow.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Ridgeline?

The Honda Ridgeline can take on extra snow gear, especially if it will improve handling and control in snow. Some of the snow gear you can install on your Honda Ridgeline include:

  • Snow chains
  • Snow tires
  • Snow socks
  • Ice studs

However, we must remind you of the need to check local laws before you opt for any snow gear.

Different towns and states have different guidelines on what snow gear is legal for use on public roads. Checking those laws will ensure you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law.

Measuring your vehicle before you buy snow gear is another non-negotiable part of the snow gear purchasing process.

Don’t think you can determine the right-sized snow gear for your Ridgeline visually; you may end up buying something that doesn’t fit. Take measurements, especially for your wheel/tire size, and buy what corresponds to that size.

How Much Snow Can a Ridgeline Handle?

The Ridgeline sits high off the ground, so you can expect it to handle a lot of snow. According to Edmunds.com, the 2020 Ridgeline has about 7.9 inches of ground clearance.

With that generous clearance, the Ridgeline can traverse deep snow without snow stalling its wheels.

For an estimate, we’d say your Ridgeline should be fine driving in snow that’s under seven inches. Driving in deeper snow is tempting fate and you could get stuck.

Make sure to also read our article on the Ford Explorer in snow and winter driving.

How Do Ridgeline Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Ridgeline’s fuel-injected nature makes it impervious to changes in weather conditions. The same way it runs smoothly in summer, it will run smoothly in winter when temperatures dip to subzero digits.

Nonetheless, we have compiled a list of issues that could stop your Ridgeline from opening smoothly in winter temperatures:

  • Spark plug failure
  • Faulty air filter or fuel filter
  • Water-contaminated gasoline
  • Electrical issues, e.g., starter failure, ignition switch problems.
  • Battery failure

Can a Honda Ridgeline Drive on Ice?

The Honda Ridgeline is excellent for driving on ice, thanks to its safety features. With Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Assist, you need not fear loss of stability and traction on icy surfaces.

Besides, the Ridgeline’s Unibody construction makes it lighter, giving it a reduced center of gravity. This decreases your truck’s chance of being involved in a rollover accident when traveling in icy conditions. 

Does the Ridgeline Have 4WD?

The Ridgeline isn’t a conventional truck, so it doesn’t have four-wheel drive (4WD). It is a front-wheel drive model, but has available all-wheel drive (AWD).

The Ridgeline’s AWD system is as good as, if not better than, any 4WD system.

Paired with the optional Intelligent Variable Torque Management, this AWD guarantees better traction and safety in winter.

What About Older Ridgeline Models And Winter Driving?

The first Ridgeline released in 2006 had both ABS and Vehicle Stability Assist (although it had a different name then). Based on this, we think it’s safe to say the older Ridgelines are suitable for winter driving.

Do Ridgelines Need Snow Tires?

Snow tires are a necessity for winter travel. You should not travel in winter on your stock all-season tires. They are average on snow and ice and will provide less control and safety in those conditions.

You are better off getting a set of snow tires that you can use in winter and remove in summer.

Please also read our article about winter tires wearing faster in summer.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Ridgeline?

Given its engine power, there are divergent opinions on whether the Ridgeline can plow snow.

We advise consulting your mechanic before you put a snow plow on your Ridgeline. Moreover, you should get AWD before you think of plowing snow with the Ridgeline.

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