The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is fully redesigned, inside and out. Honda’s entry into the midsize pickup class ditches the divisive styling of the past in an attempt to better compete in a segment that offers strong competition.
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is offered in seven trim levels: RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RLT-E and Black Edition.
The Ridgeline is all-new for 2017 after taking a hiatus following the 2014 model year. The 2017 Ridgeline has a new exterior and an updated interior, and a front-wheel drive version is now available (previous Ridgelines were all-wheel drive only).
Under the hood is a V6 engine, and power gets to the wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The Ridgeline seats up to five.
The new Ridgeline is shaped more like a true truck than its predecessor. There’s a long hood and engine up front, a cab in middle, a bed in back and no angular pillars in between.
Still, its profile doesn’t look as rugged as that of the competition. The relatively low ground clearance plays a part in this, as does the fact that this truck’s lines are more softly rounded than those of its brethren—the sloping front hood, especially, gives the Ridgeline a more carlike look. The other trucks in this segment all look off-road ready, while the Ridgeline looks like a truck meant to ply city streets.
Out back, the dual-action locking tailgate is handy and easy to use. The in-bed storage compartment will be a welcome addition for those who like to tailgate at rock concerts and football games, as will the available in-bed audio system. The in-bed trunk is deep and easily accessible, and its presence does not interfere with the flat-load floor. Our Ridgeline RTL-E’s in-bed trunk even had bed lights.
Honda lists the bed length at 64 inches with the tailgate up (83 inches with the tailgate down), and 50 inches wide. Even though the bed is only a tick over 5-feet long, and competing trucks are available with longer beds, the Ridgeline is handy for home-improvement duty, or for hauling weekend toys such as surfboards, ATVs, dirt bikes, bicycles and the like.
Standard exterior features include a dual-action tailgate, in-bed storage area, eight truck-bed tie-down cleats, truck-bed lights, 18-inch wheels and LED taillights.
Key available exterior features include fog lamps and LED projector headlamps with automatic high beams. Our test truck had these options, and we found the automatic high-beams a little slow to click back to regular brightness in suburban traffic.
A power-sliding rear window with defroster is also available, as is a power moonroof and an LED cargo light. Other available exterior features include an in-bed audio system.
Truck interiors are getting nicer and nicer across the board, and the 2017 Ridgeline is no exception. The cabin is a variation on what’s found in the company’s cars and SUVs, with some adjustments to increase potential storage.
One of those adjustments is the standard 60/40-split folding rear seat providing under-seat storage. It’s extremely easy to operate: a quick lever pull to bring it up, a slightly forceful shove down to lock it back in place. Honda claims that with the rear seat up, there’s room for a mountain bike with both wheels on, and that golf clubs will fit under the rear seat even when it’s down.
Other storage options include a deep center console with a sliding lid, a shelf just ahead of the shifter and a lockable glovebox. There’s also a generous assortment of cup holders.
The space is roomy and airy, offering up to 40.1 inches of front headroom (top trims shrink to 39.5) and 38.8 inches of rear headroom. Legroom checks in at 40.9 inches up front and 36.7 inches in the rear throughout the lineup. That’s more maximum headroom than the 2016 Toyota Tacoma both up front (39.7) and rear (up to 38.3). With 45 and 42.9 inches, respectively, the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma offer more front legroom. It’s a different story in back, as the Ridgeline trumps both in rear legroom.
Regardless of the actual measurements, the Ridgeline feels plenty roomy both up front and out back.
Gauges are clear and easy to read, and the overall cabin design is sleek and modern. Climate controls are also easy to manipulate. Most surfaces look and feel nice for the price, but a few pieces of cheap plastic are hidden throughout.
Standard interior features include power windows and door locks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a multi-function center console, a locking glovebox, a rear window defroster, two 12-volt power outlets and steering-wheel mounted controls.
Available interior features include heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, a power driver’s seat, a power passenger’s seat, leather trim and tri-zone climate control.
There’s just one engine available across the Ridgeline lineup: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a six-speed automatic, and the Ridgeline is available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Our Ridgeline came with all-wheel drive, which is standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition trims and optional on the rest.
A traction-management system is standard. It offers normal, snow, mud and sand modes for all-wheel drive models and normal and snow modes for front-wheel drive models.
On the road, the Ridgeline is about as carlike as a truck can be. It rides like a large, tall sedan, or maybe like a well-composed crossover SUV. Long highway jaunts are a breeze, with the Ridgeline remaining poised throughout. The experience is only occasionally marred by some float and wallow on certain types of pavement, but it’s barely noticeable unless you’re paying close attention.
Steering is direct and responsive, and while no one will ever mistake the Ridgeline for a sports car, it handles corners as well as any large sedan.
The V6 provides plenty of punch for around-town acceleration, but you need to dig into the throttle a bit to get it going. The brakes are firm and smooth, and the transmission is seamless.
Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds. That’s less than the maximum for either the Tacoma or the Colorado. With two-wheel drive, the Ridgeline can haul 3,500 pounds.
Fuel economy is listed at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models and 18/25 mpg for all-wheel drive models like the one we tested. During our week with the truck, we logged 20.8 mpg. The combined rating for the all-wheel drive Ridgeline is 21 mpg, so that’s about on par. We did a fair amount of highway driving, and most of the time, the truck was in the fuel-saving Econ mode.
The Honda Ridgeline’s standard tech features include push-button start, cruise control, a 5-inch color LCD screen and Bluetooth connectivity.
Key available technology includes second-row USB ports, satellite radio, Pandora internet radio streaming, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a premium audio system and a navigation system.
The worst part of the interior is the infotainment touch screen that dominates the center stack. There are no knobs whatsoever, even though there’s available space in the lower corners. The driver can control audio volume and swing through the radio presets via steering wheel-mounted controls, but having knobs available for at least some functions would make it easier to flip through menus.
Volume and tuning aside, selecting certain menus wasn’t an intuitive-enough process, and our eyes had to leave the road for far too long in order to get the right selection. On the plus side, the screen reacts to commands quickly once the right menu is selected, and it’s easy to see and read. Apple CarPlay also worked flawlessly when we connected our smartphone.
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline comes standard with a rearview camera, hill-start assist, stability control, trailer stability assist and a tire pressure monitoring system. The truck’s range of air bags includes side-curtain air bags for all outboard seating positions.
Available safety technology includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, lane keeping assist and a blind spot information system with a cross-traffic monitor.
The Ridgeline suffers a tad here, as most of the active safety and driver-assist features are only available on the top trim levels. This applies to some of the most desirable connectivity tech, such as navigation and smartphone mirroring, as well.
A base Ridgeline RT starts at $29,475 (excluding a $900 destination fee). If you’re looking for a basic work truck, the Tacoma and Colorado start at thousands less.
The good news is that the all-wheel-drive is available on all trims, and a fair amount of comfort and convenience features are available on the lower trims.
If you’re intent on the Ridgeline, we’d recommend the RTL-T trim. It doesn’t have the active safety tech of the RTL-E or Black Edition, nor does it offer the in-bed audio system, but it has almost all of the same comfort and convenience features along with the most desirable connectivity features: satellite radio, premium audio, smartphone mirroring, navigation, Pandora integration and multiple USB ports. That’s for a price of $35,930 (before destination and delivery) as compared to our RTL-E test truck’s sticker price of $41,370.
The Ridgeline isn’t the perfect midsize truck. It has less maximum towing capacity than two key competitors, its bed is smaller and it’s not really meant for serious off-roading.
That said, the Ridgeline will appeal to a certain segment of truck buyers. Urbanite weekend warriors who love to tailgate, surf or work on home improvement projects will find the Ridgeline handy and useful. Its on-road manners are unassailable and the interior is mostly upscale. There are also clever storage solutions inside and out, as well as a standard V6 and quad cab body style.
If you don’t need a long bed, a lot of towing capacity or the ability to boulder bash, the Ridgeline is an excellent truck.