New Honda Ridgeline redefines pickups
Honda has reinvented the pickup and it’s a darn sight nicer than whatever you’ve driven before.
To be honest, it’s a suburban cowboy’s pickup, but that’s what so many pickups are used as anyway – kid haulers and the occasional run to a home improvement store or big-box garden center. This one is just being honest about it and making your ride simply oh, so, comfy.
The Ridgeline is not about who has the bigger engine, toughest body, greatest towing capacity, it’s about refinement in a crew cab pickup body with a big open bed for hauling. It’s also quite a bit more.
My test truck was the Black Edition, which (not surprisingly) is black, with black wheels and a black grille to give it a decidedly elegant, yet macho look. Think I wanna be formal, but I’m here to party too! This is Honda’s top-of-the-line Ridgeline.
Like all Ridgelines it comes with a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 that creates 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s just fine. Acceleration is good and steady from a stop and ultimately Honda says it’ll carry a 1,584-lb. payload, best in class. It’ll even tow 5,000 lbs., which is well shy of competitors like the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma, but plenty for pulling a camper or boat or snowmobile trailer.
Ridgeline rides on Honda’s sturdy Global Light Truck platform with a 125.2-inch wheelbase that calms road imperfections. This feels smooth and controlled like Honda’s Pilot, a full-size SUV.
There’s push-button traction control and the engine has a cylinder deactivation system to let it run as a 4-cylinder when less power is needed. That saves gas. I got 19.7 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving and the EPA rates this 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Ridgeline’s 6-speed automatic transmission also is perfectly mated to the truck’s engine and provides smooth effective shifts. This feels downright silky, like a luxury SUV.
Likewise handling is fairly precise for a pickup. There’s decent road feel and the Ridgeline turns into corners well with more responsiveness than you’d expect in a pickup. This is beauty, not the beast.
All-wheel drive is standard on the Black Edition, as is remote start and a spiffy black leather interior with red stitching around the seats and inside the tiny holes of the perforated seats. It looks sharp!
The dash is a textured black surface with black gloss trim and matte silver trim by the dash’s screen and around the shifter.
Beyond the Black Edition’s great looking interior the first thing you’ll notice is how quiet it is. Other pickups have improved the last several years, but this is big-time quiet, a plus when the family’s aboard.
And Ridgeline will easily haul a family of five. The rear bench has good head and legroom and also will fold up to allow you to carry a bicycle, front wheel on, inside. If you’re taking a family trip there’s also a hidden trunk in the rear of the truck’s bed so you can carry suitcases and hide them.
That’s easy to get at too because Honda has retained the former Ridgeline’s dual-action tailgate. Open it down and flat like a normal truck tailgate, or use a lower release to swing it outward like a car door. That allows a person to stand close to the trunk for loading and unloading. Clever!
Say, that trunk also locks, and has a drain plug if you decide instead to use it for icing down drinks at a tailgate party.
For the record, the Honda’s bed is lined and will hold 34.0 cubic feet of cargo. It’s 5 feet 4 inches deep and 4 feet 2 inches between the wheel arches.
Back inside you’ll find super comfortable seats that are supportive, but cushy enough to make long-distance travel a pleasure. Best truck seats I’ve ever planted my backside in. Power driver’s seat and lumbar support with two memory settings. There’s two-level seat heat too and a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel with the usual assortment of radio, computer and phone buttons on its hub.
Dash layout is simple with a large nav/radio screen that is easy to see and use. There’s a rearview camera and plenty of power outlets under the center stack and in the big storage bin/armrest between the seats. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also are standard, as is Bluetooth.
Other tech goodies on the Black Edition? Blind-spot warning, lane departure and park assist.
Overhead is a sunroof and sun visors that slide.
Then there’s the price. Naturally the Black Edition pushes the envelope, but not nearly as much as full-size pickups and about the same as the Colorado, Tacoma or Nissan Frontier. This one started and ended at $43,770, including delivery, so pretty sweet.
For those of us who are less stylish and have smaller bank accounts, the base two-wheel-drive RT lists at $30,375 with delivery and AWD pushes it to $32,175. There also are RTS, Sport, RTL and RTL-T editions before you hit the Black Edition. Each trim level goes up roughly a couple grand and adds more goodies as standard.
Bottom line, if you ARE a suburban cowboy, someone who doesn’t haul lumber and farm goods for a living, the Ridgeline is likely a near perfect fit. Just figure out which level meets your budget and prepare to be driving in comfort instead of wrestlin’ a big beast pickup into every parking spot in suburbia.
FAST STATS: 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition
Hits: The future of pickups, smooth, refined like SUV w/good handling, power, ride, silky shifts and all-wheel-drive. Super comfy supportive seats, sunroof, good dash/radio/nav layout and function, rear-view screen and blind-spot warning system. Dual-action tailgate and trunk in bed.
Made in: Lincoln, Ala.
Engine: 3.5-liter, i-VTEC V-6, 280 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Weight: 4,515 lbs.
Length: 210 in.
Wheelbase: 125.2 in.
Cargo: 34.0 cu. ft., bed (7.3 cu.ft. trunk)
Tow: 5,000 lbs.
MPG: 18/25 (EPA)
MPG: 19.7 (tested)
Base Price: $43,770 (includes delivery)
Invoice: $40,076 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $43,770
Sources: Honda, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage