Family resemblance. If you think the 2021 Honda Ridgeline looks familiar, you’re not alone. The truck gets a styling refresh this year, and the new front end borrows its air intakes straight from the face of the Honda Pilot.

The resemblance isn’t an accident — the Ridgeline shares its structure with the Pilot SUV, and it bridges the gap between crossovers and more utilitarian pickups. The updated look is a good one, and the Ridgeline looks pleasantly rugged, especially with the bronze wheels of the new HPD trim.

Purists may scoff at a pickup derived from an SUV, but they probably haven’t driven a Ridgeline. It handles far better than most mid-size pickups, and the steering lacks the disconnected feel of most large trucks. The driving experience reminds us of the Pilot — and that’s a compliment.

Just enough grunt. The Ridgeline also shares its engine with the Pilot: a 280-horsepower V-6 that sends power to all four wheels. A nine-speed automatic transmission makes acceleration smooth and quick, and the Ridgeline feels peppy to drive.

Payload is a respectable 1,600 pounds, but towing capacity maxes out at 5,000. While that’s significantly more than the Pilot, you’ll find better towing in a Ford Ranger or Chevy Colorado. Still, the Ridgeline handles a utility or moving trailer just fine.

The upside is strong fuel economy for a pickup. Even with all-wheel drive, the Ridgeline earns an EPA-estimated rating of 21 mpg combined. That’s decent for the class, and excellent compared to many pickups.

Honda Ridgeline

The everyday pickup. The Ridgeline may not win any towing competitions, but it separates itself from the pack in day-to-day usability.

The interior is more sophisticated than those of most competitors, and it’s full of handy storage bins. Materials are generally high quality, and thoughtful details like fold-down armrests make the Ridgeline feel more premium. Second-row legroom is excellent for the class, and the rear seats flip up to accommodate large items in the cabin.

The composite bed is nearly impossible to dent, and it comes with speakers and in-bed charging for maximum tailgating enjoyment. We’re even bigger fans of the under-bed storage locker, which can be used as a cooler and hosed out when you’re done.

Safe and sensible. The Ridgeline is arguably the safest pickup on the road. Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control are all included standard, something no rival can claim. Crash-test scores are generally favorable, and the Ridgeline earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA.

In addition to its safety credentials, the Ridgeline comes with a winning set of standard features. Base models come with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, better than you’ll find on a Jeep Gladiator or Chevy Colorado.

The Ridgeline is also more expensive, and we’d recommend sticking close to the base configuration to maximize value. The Sport and RTL trims are both well-equipped, and we think the Ridgeline’s practicality and usability are worth the asking price.

Final thoughts. Pickups often compete on numbers: towing capacity, payload, bed size, torque. The Ridgeline bucks the trend, distinguishing itself with a comfortable interior, a confident chassis, excellent features, and clever packaging. In our opinion, those virtues are more important than raw power for most buyers. As a result, the Ridgeline is one of our favorite pickups — if you’re in the market for a mid-size truck, this is a good place to start.

Check prices for the 2021 Honda Ridgeline »