The Ridgeline returns for 2017. Honda stopped producing the Ridgeline in 2014, but it’s back and completely redesigned with a more powerful V6, smooth ride, attractive interior and an optional truck bed audio system that makes the Ridgeline a top pick for tailgating.
Is the Ridgeline a real midsize pick-up or a Honda Pilot with a bed? It’s a blend of both as Honda says the Ridgeline offers an “unprecedented combination of cargo- and people-hauling capability.” It drives like a well-mannered SUV while having the payload capacity of a pick-up.
The five-passenger Ridgeline comes in seven trims: RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and Black Edition. The Ridgeline has front-wheel- or four-wheel-drive, while most competitors have rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive. Starting prices range from $29,475 to 42,850 which is spendy for a compact pickup.
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is powered by a new 3.5-liter direct-injected SOHC i-VTECV-6 engine with variable cylinder management that makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a wide ratio six-speed automatic transmission. The new engine has 30 more horses than the previous model. It’s peppy off the line and has plenty of power for passing at freeway speeds. The transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. The ride is very un-pickup like. It’s super smooth and you’ll sail over potholes and rough roads. You’ll probably forget that you’re driving a pickup as the Ridgeline drives like an upscale SUV. Visibility is good all the way around.
Other pickups have greater off-road capabilities but the Ridgeline is no slouch and can handle a variety of road conditions and terrain. Press a button on the center console to operate the Intelligent Traction Management System that offers different operating modes: Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand for AWD models, and Normal and Snow for front-wheel-drive models. The system adjusts the drive-by-wire throttle map, transmission shift map, Vehicle Stability Assist engagement and torque distribution (for AWD-equipped models) as needed.
EPA mileage estimates are pretty good for a midsize pickup. My tester gets 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21 mpg. I got 20 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The Ridgeline has a maximum 1,584-pound payload capacity depending on the trim and can tow up to 5,000 pounds which is the smallest of the class. Still it’s enough to haul a small boat.
The interior is probably the nicest you’ll find in the segment and also one of the roomiest. Materials are top notch including many soft-touch surfaces. Seats are comfortable and supportive.
Adults will be comfortable in both rows of seating and enjoy good leg- and headroom.
Standard features in the 2017 Ridgeline include push-button start, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, seven-speaker audio system, USB port, Bluetooth, and a five-inch display screen.
Optional features include a truck bed audio system, in-bed power outlet; tri-zone automatic climate control; HD Radio; satellite radio; power sliding rear window; power moonroof; 8-inch touch-screen audio system with navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Pandora compatibility; Siri Eyes Free, and a host of driver safety technologies including Honda LaneWatch; blind spot monitoring; rear cross traffic alert; front and rear parking sensors.
Also available is the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance technologies. It includes collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.
The infotainment system is the weak link. Honda’s touch-screen system isn’t that intuitive and there are no buttons or knobs so you have to go through menus and submenus to perform various tasks. Voice activation took several tries to make phone calls as it would usually suggest a couple of wrong names before finding the correct one.
Honda says the dent and scratch resistant bed construction is designed for rugged daily use and does not require the protection of a bed liner.
If you like to tailgate, you’ll love the Ridgeline’s dual-action tailgate. There’s an in-bed trunk with a fully flat floor and the world’s first truck bed audio system. You can even chill your tailgate beverages in the built-in trunk. It has a drain plug so you can fill it up with ice and wow your tailgating guests.
The Ridgeline’s 60/40-split and folding rear seat offers flexibility in hauling passengers and gear. With the seat bottoms folded up, you can transport large items such as a 55-inch flat screen television. If you’re hauling long items such as golf clubs, the Ridgeline’s large under-seat storage area can accommodate those with the rear seats folded down.
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is the first pickup to earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It has not yet been rated in NHTSA crash tests.
My tester starts at $42,870. Destination fee is $900 bringing the grand total to $43,770.
The Honda Ridgeline won’t be your first choice if you want a pickup for extreme off-roading that can tow large loads. But it will appeal to those who want the function and versatility of a pickup and the smooth ride, pleasant interior and fuel efficiency of a family crossover. That is, if you don’t mind the subpar touchscreen infotainment system.