If your ride is feeling slightly underpowered or if you simply want to squeeze more out of it, you can improve it with a Honda Ridgeline supercharger and boost its performance by up to 70%. But is it possible to install a supercharger kit on a compact pickup truck such as the Honda Ridgeline? The idea that you can quickly bolt on an extra part and get tons of extra torque and horsepower is a highly attractive option, especially since most supercharger kits provide you with everything you need for easy installation.
But how does supercharging work? Can you use it to add some extra ponies to your Honda Ridgeline? What are some other Honda rides that you can boost with a supercharger kit? Check out this guide on supercharging your Honda!
Generally, Hondas are pretty hot rides at the outset. That’s perfectly understandable given the company’s long history with racing. Ever since the 1960s, the Honda Motor Company has been one of the major players in motorsport. The manufacturer’s cars frequently dominate the tracks in a variety of racing events, from Formula One, Super GT, WTCR, and Indycar to rallycross, offroad, and the drag strip.
Moreover, some of the best Honda sports cars for most of those purposes are the legendary S800, Civic Type R, Integra Type R, S2000, and the famous NSX. You probably know those models for their power, speed, precise steering, and aerodynamic bodies. Plus, they have impeccable handling and offer an uncompromising racing experience.
There’s no question that Hondas are performance cars, and we can see that with the triumphant S2000. The earlier models of this sports car have an engine that spins to 9,000 and outputs 237 hp. While that is certainly a sufficient amount of juice for the track, any racer who wants to unleash the full potential of their Honda can soup it up with a supercharger.
The result? Well, you’ll get a linear power curve and boost that delivers impressive results on the street and on the track.
While the reputation of Honda’s sports cars speaks for itself, this automaker is probably not the first one you’ll think of when it comes to pickup trucks. That is understandable, as the Ridgeline is the first and only pickup truck that Honda produced. It was initially introduced in late 2004, and there have been two generations of it so far. Frankly, the Ridgeline became a rather controversial vehicle when it first rolled off the assembly line. Its unibody construction and non-traditional truck features created some confusion.
In fact, the model was criticized for having more in common with the Accord than a traditional pickup truck. It took a long time until the mid-sizer got the credit it deserved. For instance, the 2021 Ridgeline design revamped this vehicle with features that are more in line with those found on traditional pickup trucks. But even earlier, in 2020, U.S. News gave the Ridgeline a #1 compact pickup truck award.
Regardless of all the controversy, all of the iterations of the Ridgeline proved how special midsize pickups could be. The Ridgeline is powerful enough to:
- Tow a boat, motorcycle, or racecar
- Handle the snow like a boss
- Provide tons of interior space
- Park in public parking garages and cruise the city streets with ease
Interestingly, Honda never designed the RL to compete with traditional American pickups. According to the manufacturer, the Ridgeline was meant to appeal to Honda fans who wanted to own a pickup truck made by the company. And while the truck doesn’t have a cult following in the U.S., you can head on over to the Ridgeline Owners Club message board to see just how many people love this Honda vehicle.
Additionally, some of its best features are a robust engine, versatile cargo space, and a large yet premium interior. The first-gen Ridgelines were also noteworthy for their in-bed trunk operation and a dual-action tailgate. The spacious interior, overall comfort, and great noise isolation of the newer models also stand out.
As mentioned earlier, there are two generations of the Ridgeline:
|Honda Ridgeline First Generation||2005–2015||3.5 L J35A9 V6 or 3.5 L J35Z5 V6 with approx. 247 hp||5-speed automatic|
|Honda Ridgeline Second Generation||2017–present||3.5 L J35Y6 V6 with 280 hp||6-speed automatic|
What makes the Ridgeline stand out is the combination of its power and ruggedness, along with the car-like driving experience that it offers. It’s a great match for daily driving, hauling, and even racing. Just have a look at Honda’s Baja Ridgeline customized off-road monster that snatched up several consecutive wins at the Baja 500 USA, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Supercharging is relatively common with pickup trucks, and it’s highly popular for models like the Ford F-150, Dodge RAM, GMC Sierra, Chevy Silverado, and Toyota Tundra. In fact, some of those trucks came with factory-installed superchargers. Others had the option to add in a supercharger kit built directly by the manufacturer.
Still, it’s been a long time since factory-supercharged pickup trucks were available. That was back in 2004 with the F-150 SVT Lightning. But, the factory-supercharged 2021 Ram TRX proved that the trend is making a comeback. If you own a pickup truck, you can easily fit a supercharger kit into your engine bay, and you’ll see major improvements in torque and power.
Superchargers are large air compressors that you can bolt onto your engine. They use the principle of forced induction. They take power from the vehicle’s engine and compress the inflowing air to gauge pressure. Compressing the air to above atmospheric pressure results in a boost. For example, with a boost of 1 psi, the supercharger pressurizes the air to 1 psi above atmospheric levels.
Essentially, the engine gets a higher content of oxygen particles for each liter of air. In turn, this increases the amount of fuel that can be mixed. That’s how a supercharger allows you to produce more power.
However, the process can also heat up the intake air, which has to be cooled down. The solution is to add an intercooler to lower the temperature of the incoming air before it gets to the intake manifold and enters the combustion chamber. Furthermore, the engine’s crankshaft powers the device. It is usually connected via a belt, chain, or shaft.
The process of forced induction relies on the engine’s power, and that’s exactly what makes it different from using turbos. Turbochargers use the vehicle’s exhaust fumes to power the compressor, which almost always results in lag. With superchargers, you will barely get any response lag. Plus, they’ll give you a linear boost across the whole RPM range.
What’s more, there are three main types of superchargers:
- Roots style — You’ll often see the Roots style blower sitting on top of a car’s hood. This type uses dual rotors that mesh together to compress the air.
- Centrifugal — This type looks similar to a snail shell. It uses an impeller wheel to compress the air.
- Twin-screw — The twin-screw type spins two screw-like rotors with meshed lobes to compress and send the air into the engine.
As a result of the above-mentioned principles, superchargers can significantly increase your truck’s torque and horsepower output. Depending on the type of supercharger, your car, and your engine, you could gain a power boost of around 30% to 75%.
If you install a supercharger on your truck, it will essentially behave like a vehicle with a much larger and more powerful engine. Because of its link to the crankshaft, a supercharger always runs together with the engine. That way, you’ll get an instantaneous throttle and boost response. Unlike turbos, you won’t have to wait for the compressor to speed up. In simple terms, you’ll get the following benefits for your pickup truck:
- The added torque and power will make hauling much easier, and the engine will require less throttle input
- Low RPM boost
- Quick acceleration
- Improved cold starting
- Improved mixture of fuel and air
- No lag
Hooking up a supercharger to your engine should be a relatively straightforward process. The easiest way to go about it is to find a kit suited to your particular truck and engine model.
Supercharger kits are made for a specific car model, so you won’t buy the wrong one. They contain everything you need to bolt the device onto your engine. That includes:
- Supercharger unit
- Mounting hardware
- Intake system
- New belt
- All related hardware and parts
If you have enough experience, this should be a fairly simple mod with no major overhauls. The whole process takes around 6 to 8 hours. However, if you are not a skilled mechanic, it’s better to leave it to a professional. An experienced mechanic can quickly install a supercharger onto your pickup truck and give your car a tune-up to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Unfortunately, supercharging the Ridgeline’s 3.5 L V6 is tougher than it seems. As mentioned, the easiest way to supercharge any pickup truck is to invest in a bolt-on kit. However, supercharger kits are vehicle-specific, and so far, no one has made a Honda Ridgeline supercharger kit.
Back in 2006-2007, Comptech (later known as CT-Engineering) was testing a mass-market prototype. To the unacquainted, Comptech played a huge role in Honda’s racing efforts in the U.S. by working on the first Honda race car in the 1980s. The company produced some of the best engines for Acura and Honda, along with a range of high-quality supercharging kits.
In the mid-2000s, the prototype of the Ridgeline kit was said to cost around $5,000, which is what you should expect to pay for a quality supercharger kit. What’s more, the provided boost was around 50 hp.
But, Comptech’s engineers had issues with the tuning and the performance of the prototype kit. Namely, the driveline of the 2006–2009 Ridgeline and the VTM4 all-wheel-drive system are already configured to work to their maximum capabilities with the stock engine. This almost makes it impossible to fit a supercharging kit without harming the truck. That could be the reason why Comptech never released their kit.
According to several discussions on the Ridgeline Owners Club message board, the truck was specifically designed to work within a set of limits. Introducing forced induction into the equation can cause problems because the driveline simply wasn’t made to handle more power.
Also, the 3.5 L V6 engine in the Ridgeline is a high compression engine (10.5:1) and while that is ideal for a low boost supercharger, the internals weren’t built to handle forced induction. In other words, the Ridgeline was not designed as a tuner vehicle. As a result, it’s almost impossible to find aftermarket performance parts, kits, mods that are made solely for the G1 and G2 Ridgeline.
Of course, you can still customize trucks with superchargers that aren’t specifically designed for them. However, this is not recommended because it is risky, and you need to know exactly what you’re doing. It will require extensive mods while increasing the costs.
For instance, only a handful of members from the Ridgeline Owners Club forum were able to supercharge their RL successfully, and most of them had to do a complete overhaul. Some claim that you can reuse parts from the J-series. Others swapped out the engine in their Ridgeline in order to accommodate an Eaton M90 supercharger with custom adapter plates. Alternatively, since the Ridgeline uses the same engine found in the MDX, Accord, and Pilot, you could watch those vehicles to see if you can find a suitable kit.
Still, most owners who have tried to install a supercharger or a turbo have said that there’s not enough room in the RL’s engine bay. Overall, it appears that it’s incredibly difficult to fit a supercharger into the Ridgeline. Even with extensive mods, forced induction could damage the driveline and the engine. This could change with the new 2021 redesign and upcoming models because the demand for supercharger kits from RL owners is quite high.
Let’s use this hybrid hatchback as an example to further illustrate the benefits of supercharger kits. Namely, the Honda CR-Z was introduced in 2010, and it redefined the concept of affordable hybrids.
While the car boasts beautiful engineering, its sporty performance is a bit underwhelming. If you want to upgrade it, you can find a made-for-measure supercharger kit. This kit increases power to nearly 200 hp compared to the stock 130 hp.
Back in 2015, Honda even released its own dealer-installed supercharger kit for the CR-Z. Either way, a supercharger on a CR-Z will give you a 25% increase in power and torque while offering easy installation. Since the kit is a perfect fit for the CR-Z, you will not have to overhaul your car completely to get the desired effect. Plus, the sport hybrid coupe is built to handle forced induction, and a supercharger will not damage it.
|Gasoline||1.5-liter||LEA l4||111-112 hp||106 lb-ft|
|Electric||MF6||14 horsepower||58 lb-ft|
Alternatively, you can easily supercharge a Civic to get a 6-8 psi boost. And with a Honda S2000, a Civic supercharger will give you a 100 horsepower gain. If you prefer to stick to pickup trucks, the chances are that you’ll have to skip the Ridgeline and install a supercharger in another model. The Chevy Silverado and the Ford F-150 are some of the most popular choices for installing superchargers.
To sum up, it is incredibly difficult to fit a supercharger into the Honda Ridgeline due to the car’s construction and the lack of aftermarket supercharger kits. But, judging by the demand from many Ridgeline owners, we’re hoping that this mod will become available on the newer Ridgeline models soon. Alternatively, you can look into supercharging kits for other pickups like the Silverado or even quench your thirst for speed by supercharging other Honda models like the Civic, Civic Type-R, Integra, and so on.