Honda redesigned their Ridgeline for 2017 after a year hiatus, not that many probably noticed. It’s a comfortable truck like the model it replaced, and strikes just the right balance between daily driver and utility. It’s ideal for folks who have the need to haul stuff often enough but don’t want to mess up the interior of their SUV. The test vehicle is the full-boogie Ridgeline AWD Black Edition with an MSRP of $43,770. Hey, all that black doesn’t come cheap.
Honda didn’t take chances with the new truck’s styling; picture a Pilot with the roof removed behind the 2nd row seats and you’re pretty much there. The unconventional look is universally blamed for subpar sales of the original Ridgeline, as good as it was. Honda took the Pilot platform and beefed up its structure and the end result is a payload just shy of 1,600lb and tow rating of 5,000lb (AWD). The 9-speed autobox from the Pilot was tossed in favor of a 6-speed to harness the 3.5 liter V6's 280hp and 262lb-ft torque. EPA rating is 18 city, 25 highway with 21 combined.
The Ridgeline’s interior is a comfy place to be, and long rides won’t be fatiguing. The rear seat flips up to provide almost 3 cubic feet of storage, and there’s no shortage of storage bins. The rear door openings are tad narrow, and require a bit of a squeeze for an above-average size passenger to climb in. Rear seat room is adequate for adults, but don’t plan on cross-country trips. Honda’s touch screen interface is a bit tricky at first, and not very intuitive. Probably best to read through the manual first before attempting any of its higher functions.
The Ridgeline’s dual-action tailgate does that cool swing open to the side or drop down trick, and there’s a locking cargo area under the bed. The bed itself is a composite material to prevent dents when you’re actually doing truck-y things. Honda incorporates an audio system in the bedliner using exciter speakers built into the floor, and it’s just the thing for tailgating. The sound quality is pretty good; better than what you might think for such a setup.
It’s a truck that drives like an SUV, but with a 7-second 0-60 time it feels more lively. The four wheel independent suspension and unibody construction allows for a ride better than any body-on-frame truck and it’s quite stable when cornering with little body lean. Around town the V6 provides plenty of punch when coming off a red light or merging at highway speed.
Bottom line? The new Ridgeline picks up where the old truck left off. The unconventional styling is gone, replaced by a more familiar truck profile but the usability still ranks high and without the compromises that often comes with a truck. Honda researched this market to the nth degree, and came up with a solution for 90% of owners. Now that the polarizing exterior is gone, expect the Ridgeline to sell better in the midsize truck segment.