The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is like a Pilot with a cargo bed. It’s a compact pickup that handles like a crossover. It can’t tow and haul as much as other compact pickups but has an upscale interior and smoother ride, making it nice as a daily driver with the capacity to do those “honey do” jobs on the weekend.
Base Price: $36,490
As Tested: $40,860
Mileage: 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined
Most pickups have body-on-frame construction but the Ridgeline has unibody construction which provides more refined handling than other trucks.
The Ridgeline got a makeover for 2017 after a two-year absence from the Honda line-up. Several tweaks were made since then, and for 2021, the Ridgeline gets standard all-wheel-drive, some exterior styling updates, and an updated infotainment system that now has a much-needed volume knob.
The 2021 Ridgeline comes in four trims: Sport, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition. Starting prices range from $36,490 to $43,920. Even the base model comes well-equipped. All-wheel-drive is standard across all trims; front-wheel-drive is no longer offered. Unlike other pickups that offer a variety of cab and bed sizes, all trims of the Ridgeline have the same crew cab with room for five passengers, and a bed size of 5’4”.
Only one engine is available: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. As mentioned above, the Ridgeline has SUV-like handling thanks to its unibody construction. The ride is smooth and comfortable. There’s plenty of power for everyday driving. Acceleration is peppy from a stop, and the Ridgeline easily speeds up for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The nine-speed shifts smoothly and quickly and always seems to find the right gear. For punchier performance, you can put the Ridgeline in Sport mode. The suspension absorbs bumps and rough roads, and the Ridgeline stays planted when cornering.
Fuel economy is what you’d expect for a small pickup. EPA ratings for my tester are 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21. I got 21 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
When properly equipped, the Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 pounds and haul up to 1,583 pounds. This is less than many other compact pickups, but you can tow a small trailer or boat, and you’ll have plenty of room for camping gear and most of those trips to the home improvement store.
The composite bed is highly scratch and dent resistant without a liner and can accommodate four-foot-wide building materials flat on the bed floor. The dual-action tailgate can open downward or to the side, providing flexibility in loading and unloading your cargo. There’s also lots of storage inside the vehicle, including 2.9 cubic feet under the second row. The seats can flip up to make room for large and long items with a flat floor and foldaway 60/40-split rear seat bottoms.
The Ridgeline isn’t up to serious off-roading but can venture off the beaten path thanks to its 7.6 inches of ground clearance and traction management system that lets you choose from sand, mud and snow settings.
The interior is pleasant and attractive. There are some hard plastics but most materials look and feel good. The seats have nice contrast stitching. Seats in both rows are roomy and comfortable with good leg- and headroom.
Standard features include proximity keyless entry push-button start, remote start, rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, eight-inch touchscreen, seven-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto,and two USB ports.
Available features include leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, eight-speaker audio system, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, wireless device charging, and two rear-seat USB ports.
Standard driver assistance technologies include the Honda Sensing suite of safety features which includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors.
The eight-inch infotainment system now has a volume knob – hooray! With the old system, it was very frustrating to have to use the touchscreen to adjust the volume. Unfortunately, the infotainment system still needs more updating. The menus are not always laid out sensibly, the small buttons are tough to reach and use, and the system can be slow to respond to touch and voice commands.
My tester has the new Honda Performance Development (HPD) Package which add some exterior styling tweaks including a special grille treatment, black fender flares, bronze-colored wheels, and HPD graphics on the bed walls. The package is available on all Ridgeline trims.
Smooth, comfortable ride
Lots of standard and available features and tech
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Clunky infotainment system but at least it now has a volume knob
Not as capable as other pickups
My tester starts at $36,490. Radiant Red paint is $395. The HPD Package is $2,800 and adds fender flares, 18-inch HPD Alloy wheel, grill, HPD decals, HPD emblem. Destination fee is $1,175 bringing the grand total to $40,860.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is one refined small pickup. It offers smooth, SUV-like handling, an upscale cabin and lots of standard and available features and tech. While it’s not as capable as other small trucks, it’s a versatile vehicle with enough hauling and towing capability for many buyers looking for a pickup.