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February 2017 Letters To Four Wheeler Editor

Posted in Features on February 24, 2017
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Wayne’s World

At the end of Trail’s End (“Wheeling the Jeep JK in Zambia,” Oct. ’16), you stated, “If you were the person making the decisions at Jeep, what design elements, equipment, and features would you include on the Wrangler JL?”

I own a ’12 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon and would suggest the following improvements: move these three control buttons up higher on the dash so they would be handy to see and use.

1. Electric axle locker control button
2. Electric sway bar control button
3. Hill descent control button

I own a ’14 Mercedes Benz E350, and it has a “Hold” function for the parking brake. You simply push down hard on the brake pedal after you come to a stop, and it sets the emergency brake on a hold position (a “hold” light comes on the dash) that automatically holds you until you put your foot on the accelerator. What a great feature this would be on any four-wheel-drive vehicle.

I have long thought I would like to contact someone at Jeep design stating some things that could be improved, but who could you contact? And who would care?

And of course, every Jeep owner’s desire: a decent V-8 and diesel engine option.

Here's hoping you can get the information to someone in “Jeep Land” who will listen and possibly implement some suggestions.
Wayne Buxton
Via email

Thanks for the input, Wayne. Believe it or not, the manufacturers do care about consumer input and they listen. A Jeep engineer may have just read this and may be pondering your ideas. We’d like to see more exterior lighting options, like side- and rear-facing LEDs. Oh, and LED rock lights on the Rubicon would be dandy.

Ridgeline Reactions

We last exchanged emails in November 2015 regarding the possible return of the Dodge Dakota. Today, I read your review of the ’17 Honda Ridgeline.

My son was an intern for Honda several years ago. When he came home for a visit one trip he was all enthusiastic about this new “lifestyle pickup” that was in development, i.e. the original Ridgeline. Now one might expect a young student to be taken by features such as the in-bed “trunk,” a.k.a “icebox” for tailgate parties, but what impressed my son the most about Honda in general was the build quality. And knowing that in a few years I would be looking to replace my ’96 SLT extended cab Dakota, I promised to give the Ridgeline consideration.

Fortunes change and in 2006 after totaling my ’96 during a brake failure, it was time to shop for a replacement vehicle. I do not require a heavy-duty truck for my lifestyle. I do enjoy camping and boating and also tow a small flatbed trailer as well as a tent camper. When necessary I also haul lumber and such for projects, trucks are good for that, but before I had a truck at all I accomplished the same with the flatbed trailer towed behind my minivan.

Now I was already familiar with the Dodge offerings at the time and not too crazy about them either. By then, Dodge had stopped calling the Dakota a midsized truck and indeed it was also more of a “lifestyle truck” with the Quad Cab outselling the extended cab models. So I didn't feel like I was betraying Mopar when I went to check out the Ridgeline. What I found you already know: unibody construction, only automatic transmissions available, fulltime AWD, four doors, and a bedside height only a basketball player could reach over. And like the Dakota, it was BIG. Now, if I had a young family, a four-door pickup would make sense—Dodge, Honda, doesn't matter—but at my stage of life, a longer bed length is more useful, with sides I can reach over. While the Dodge bed height remained about 15 inches when they went to 2WD and 4WD on the same chassis, it made me stretch more than I wanted, but I could do it (and still do). Not so with the Honda and it's sloping sides. I can't say I'm crazy about a two-way tailgate (reminds me of older Ford station wagons), but it does permit easier bed “reach,” but again, mostly for the ice box (trunk).

I have mixed feelings about independent suspension (I think the jury is still out there) and any form of unibody. I confess to being something of a Luddite. I can recall while growing up all the jokes about the Nash Rambler and it's unibody construction, but as the Virginia Slims ad used to say, “We've come a long way baby.” So for those who use the Ridgeline as a family hauler on pavement or mild dirt roads and trails, I'm sure it will handle it just fine. But not for me; not yet anyhow. I want to choose when to use 4WD. I like the feel of a frame-on-body design and solid axles. I favor bed length over passenger capacity.
Frank Capristo, Jr
Via email

It’s going to be a great fit for a lot of people. Utility of a light truck with the ride and comfort of a crossover. How many people drive a truck and actually use it for what it was designed for?
Via Instagram

I need/use a bigger truck. But you just can’t beat Honda reliability. Will be a great fit for many.
Via Instagram

Finally, at least they actually have a real truck bed. But still wouldn’t drive it.
Via Instagram

We received a number of comments about the ’17 Honda Ridgeline, and it was a mixed bag of love/toleration/hate. Time will tell if the IFS/IRS unibody Ridgeline will continue to be in a class by itself here in the U.S. or if it’s the precursor to an onslaught of unibody pickups.

And This

I need snow chains for my 39-inch Super Swamper TSLs.
Sergio Santio
Via Facebook

You guys should build a ’92-’98 4x4 Suburban. I’m a really big fan. Been reading y’alls mags since 2003.
Mike Bethune
Via Facebook

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