When Honda decided to launch a large pickup truck for the 2006 model year, the company didn’t take the conventional route. Rather than traditional body-on-frame construction, for instance, the Ridgeline was unibodied. Now, Honda has revived the Ridgeline in fully redesigned form, with a more powerful V6 engine, and what the company calls an “ultra-rigid” unibody structure. As before, the emphasis is on aerodynamics, sophistication and innovation, as well as cargo-carrying capacities.
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2017 Honda Ridgeline Overview
What's New for 2017
Honda dropped the initial version of the Ridgeline after the 2014 model year. Now, a totally redesigned Ridgeline is ready for the marketplace, intended for both recreational and work use. Notable features include a Honda-exclusive In-Bed Trunk and a dual-action tailgate that aims at drivers who hold “tailgate” parties. Honda claims the largest cabin in the Ridgeline’s class, as well as the world’s first available Truck Bed Audio system. Torsional rigidity is said to be up to three times as great as rival body-on-frame trucks. Inside is LED map lighting, with soft-touch materials throughout the cabin.
Choosing Your Honda Ridgeline
Honda’s direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine develops 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, driving a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but torque vectoring all-wheel drive is available on all trim levels. The fully independent suspension uses Amplitude Reactive dampers. Honda promises “class-leading” payload capacity (1,584 pounds), plus towing capacity up to 5,000 pounds. Pushbutton-actuated Intelligent Traction Management has four modes: Normal, Snow, Mud, and Sand for AWD models; or Normal and Snow for 2WD Ridgelines.
The glass fiber-reinforced composite cargo bed is 3.9 inches longer and 5.5 inches wider than the original. Honda asserts that it’s the only cargo bed in a midsize truck that can hold items that are 4 feet wide. Eight 350-pound tie-down cleats are standard.
All Ridgelines get a multi-angle rearview camera. The 60/40-split folding rear seat holds up to three passengers. With seat bottoms folded upward, a Ridgeline can carry bulky items. Under-seat storage is available, and integration of smartphone features includes navigation capabilities.
Available features include a 400-watt in-bed power outlet, LED projector headlights and daytime running lights, satellite-linked navigation, and an 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. The Honda Sensing group of safety and driver-assistive technologies includes collision mitigation braking, lane-departure and forward collision warnings, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.
Seven trim levels are available:
Honda says it took the “best and most beloved” elements of the original, blending them into a new platform and advanced technology. Many fans of domestic-brand pickups shunned that first-generation Ridgeline from the start. Whether this redesigned midsize Ridgeline will be able to compete more effectively against traditional-type Ford, Ram and Chevrolet/GMC pickups with rear-wheel drive is an open question. Honda’s version even differs considerably from the import brands that offer larger pickup trucks.
2017 Honda Ridgeline Review
The Ridgeline was a staple in Honda’s lineup from 2006 through 2014, but sales and demand tapered off through the 2010s. This led to the model going on a hiatus in 2015 and 2016 while the automaker redesigned it. Now with a new look and feel, the Ridgeline is—once again—prepared to satisfy buyers who want both a pickup for active lifestyles rather than hard work.
Pricing and Equipment
The Honda Ridgeline’s pricing starts off at $30,375 (destination fees included) for the RT trim. While that price may seem high for a base-level pickup, keep in mind that this is no normal truck: It comes standard with desirable features such as 18-inch wheels, a 2-inch receiver hitch, a dual-action tailgate, push-button start, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, a seven-speaker sound system, and more.
The model I tested was the range-topping Black Edition trim, which checked in at $43,770 (delivery fees included). For this extra scratch, my model included:
- Leather upholstery
- Heated seats
- Eight-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Tri-zone automatic climate control
- 400-watt in-bed power outlet
- In-bed audio system
The Ridgeline isn’t your typical pickup truck with a slew of powertrain options. Instead, it has one powerful V6 option and buyers can choose only between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Where the Ridgeline really excels is its payload capacity and buttery-smooth ride for a pickup.
- 280-horsepower V6 is plenty potent
- 1,584-pound payload capacity tops its class
- Smooth-riding crossover chassis
- Quick to 60 mph
While my tester was all-wheel drive and had some light off-road and hauling capabilities, the fact that the Ridgeline is now front-wheel drive in its base setup is a little unsettling. It seems odd to toss 1,500 pounds of gravel in the bed of a front-driven vehicle.
- Base front-wheel-drive system seems counterintuitive
- Lacks low-range transfer case
- 5,000-pound max towing puts it a bit behind its competitors
My tester was the Black Edition model, so I was surrounded by smooth leather and premium goodies. The quietness of the cabin was also pleasant, as was the visibility from the pilot’s chair.
- Peaceful cabin makes it easy for long trips
- Plenty of luxury in the Black Edition
- Great-sounding audio system
- Lots of room in the back seats, and they fold up for plenty of storage
- High captain’s chair and short hood work together for great visibility
While the interior was great, there were a few flaws:
- I found padding on the back seats to be a little on the thin side, so they may not be great for long trips.
- The audio system also lacked redundant physical buttons, meaning I had to rapidly tap a button on the screen to turn the volume down.
- Oddly, this range-topping model didn't have ventilated seats.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The Ridgeline held several surprises for me, including its max payload, the in-bed audio system’s sound, and the interior quality. The most impressive, though, was its comfortable ride. I honestly never expected a pickup to ride so much like a comfy crossover, but the Ridgeline pulls it off.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The infotainment system is annoying to operate. Not only does it lack redundant physical buttons for common functions, it is also slow to search for points of interest and proved to be a distraction overall.
The Bottom Line
Although it now has more conventional looks, the Ridgeline is still a niche vehicle—not quite a pickup but not quite an SUV. It's perfect for buyers who are looking for the best of both worlds. Overall, the Ridgeline does what it is supposed to do very well, but it lacks any true truck-like characteristics.
In summary, if you’re looking for a real midsize pickup, the Ridgeline isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a daily driver with some pickup capabilities, then Honda built the Ridgeline just for you.
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