Looking past its limited off-road abilities, fussy infotainment software, expensive active safety features, and pricey bottom line, the 2019 Honda Ridgeline offers class-leading handling, a comfortable and high-quality cabin, and an ingenious, functional bed.

Best Value

Ridgeline prices begin at $30,965 for the front-wheel-drive RT and top out at $44,395 for the all-wheel-drive Black Edition. Sitting between these trims are the Sport, RTL, RTL-T, and RTL-E, all offered with either front- or all-wheel drive. Choosing an engine and transmission is simpler – a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission is all that's offered.

The base RT trim comes with the usual power features plus keyless push-button start, a five-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, LED taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, an integrated class III trailer hitch, and a rearview camera. You have to opt for either the RTL-E or Black Edition model to get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Honda's Lane Watch passenger-side camera is standard on the RTL-T trim only.

Since the Ridgeline is essentially the family-friendly Pilot with a truck bed replacing the third row, we'd lean toward the RTL trim with its easy-to-clean leather seats and additional standard features like fog lights, three-zone automatic climate control, heated power driver and front passenger seats, moonroof, power sliding rear window, acoustic windshield, and remote engine start. Here’s how we’d build it:

  • Model: 2019 Honda Ridgeline RTL
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6
  • Output: 280 hp / 262 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 18 City / 25 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $35,845 (including the $975 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $35,845

Performance

Honda Ridgeline

At the top of its class in performance and handling, the Ridgeline's V6 engine offers crisp acceleration and pairs nicely with the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, while the crossover-based chassis carves corners more like a car. Irregular road surfaces are handled with aplomb (even better than the Pilot) with much of the credit due to a center bed reinforcement, as well as hydraulic suspension bushings, dual-action dampers, and, on AWD models, a rear torque-vectoring system. Payload capacity – which tops out at 1,569 pounds – is right in line with Chevy's body-on-frame Colorado.

The Ridgeline's unibody construction and lack of low-range gearing also make it a less-than-suitable off-roader. The litany of transgressions also includes an acceptable 7.9 inches of ground clearance that's reduced to six inches below the rear control arms, and a shortfall in torque compared to the Canyon/Colorado, resulting in a 5,000-pound towing capacity that's 2,000 short of GM's twins. The Rideline also lacks hill descent control, while its approach and departure angles can't match those of its competitor's off-road editions.

Interior and Exterior

Looking more like a truck than the first-gen model, the latest Ridgeline sports near-vertical bed sides and rear glass, a traditional pickup bed, and a version of Honda's current corporate SUV grille. It holds a well-finished interior that takes its design cues from the latest Pilot, and storage solutions – such as back row magic seats that flip up to hold a bicycle – that can be traced back to the Fit.

The front seats have a nice adjustment range, while back seat comfort is far superior to both the Colorado and the Toyota Tacoma. Topping things off, the UV-stabilized plastic bed doesn't need a bedliner. The tailgate both swings out and drops down, while a built-in lockable trunk under the bed floor – perfect to hold wet clothes after a camping trip – is big enough to hold an 82-quart cooler.

All is not perfect, as the front seats are a bit flat, the infotainment software is slow and counterintuitive, and you have to step up to the RTL-T to get the larger eight-inch touchscreen that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Contractors will pass because the 63-inch bed length falls short even with the optional bed extender, despite the 50-inch width being sufficient to accommodate the width of plywood and sheetrock.

The Best and Worst Things

Versatile with a capital "V," the Ridgeline works because it's a two-row Honda Pilot with second row magic seats and a lot more cargo capacity. We only wish its advanced safety features were available across the lineup.

Right For? Wrong For?

Honda Ridgeline

The Ridgeline's spacious, high-quality interior and versatile, functional bed should attract families and empty nesters.

At the same time, weekend warriors will find that a number of its competitors offer better off-road capability.

The Bottom Line

Despite high sticker prices, the limited availability of active safety features, and off-road utility that's eclipsed by many competitors, the 2019 Honda Ridgeline's segment-leading handling, comfortable interior, and highly-functional bed make it a top pick in its class.