The Honda Ridgeline is an animal that is unlike any other out there. It’s been redesigned for 2017 and it continues in the tradition of something very different in the midsize truck segment. For those looking for a car-like hauler with a pickup bed for utility, this could be a good choice for many. If you want a heavy duty work vehicle for towing, you will want to look elsewhere.
Don’t get us wrong, the Ridgeline is not just a city commuter. It can serve double duty and be a more than capable recreation vehicle.
The new Ridgeline has some interesting characteristics that set it apart from the rest, and we discovered them while driving the AWD RTL-E trim this week.
The Honda Ridgeline is all-new for 2017. In its second generation, the midsize pickup is bigger than the first generation. There’s more cargo bed capacity and a higher payload rating at 1,584 pounds. It gets improved horsepower and fuel economy, with new safety features and upgraded technology.
Features & Options
The Ridgeline RTL-E ($41,370) features a power tilt/slide moonroof, LED headlights with auto on/off and auto high beam control, chrome door handles, a power sliding rear window, parking sensors, driver seat memory, and a heated steering wheel. A suite of safety aids include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, road departure mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The sound system has 540 watts and eight speakers, plus an all-new truck bed audio system. The bed also gains LED cargo lighting and a 115 volt, two prong power outlet.
Total MSRP including destination: $42,270.
Stepping inside the new Ridgeline reveals a modern cabin, with materials of high quality and a fit and finish above most other midsize trucks. The heated front seats offer excellent relaxation, while the driver memory and center arm rests are comfortable for long trips into the high country. We especially liked the well designed center console with an usable flat sliding top.
It opens to a large storage bin for keeping valuables out of sight.
The display screen is large, as are the various icons, and the infotainment and connectivity options, which now include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, are contemporary. What we didn’t like were the touch controls on the big center dash screen. They are not all that receptive when we tried to adjust the radio’s volume.
The Ridgeline comes in crew cab only, with the rear seats offering enough space for three adults, although it will be tight. Rear passengers sit upright and have a better view out the front of the vehicle than most midsize pickups. They aren’t as comfortable as the front seats but they fold flat for plenty of additional interior cargo space. The bed offers a two-way tailgate and an extra large lockable storage area in the rear.
Our tester came standard with lots of updated safety features like adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and lane departure warning, among others. We felt the system was a little too eager to jiggle the steering wheel when the truck got close to the lines.
Engine, Towing & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower, an increase of 30 over the outgoing engine. It comes in at 262 lb-ft of torque, which is respectable but not overwhelming for a truck. Power is transferred to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission instead of the five-speed used previously.
With all-wheel drive, EPA fuel ratings come in at 18/25 city/highway and 21 combined mpg.
The Ridgeline is up to the task if you do have a payload. The AWD pickup’s maximum payload is 1,584 pounds, which is the best in the midsize pickup category. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds which is less, however, than most competitors.
It comes equipped with a 2-inch receiver hitch and seven pin connector.
Midsize pickups, like the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado, are more civilized in ride quality than ever before, but the Ridgeline bumps up the comfort level another notch. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is smooth on the road and quiet at highway speeds. In terms of overall comfort, this truck is heads above the rest. It handled the mountain roads with ease as we pushed it hard up I-70 at altitude.
The extra horsepower is evident when we passed slower traffic going up the steep incline.
The structure gets upgrades that make it more rigid, affecting driving dynamics in a positive way. The truck feels exceptionally solid over rough dirt roads, and the suspension tuning is a little firmer than on the mechanically similar Pilot. The newly upgraded truck will handle many recreational pursuits as long as you don’t need extra ground clearance over exceptionally rough terrain.
In the area of cabin refinement and driving dynamics, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline has it over the competition. Honda did a good job designing a pickup that will be suitable for everyday transportation but beefy enough to get you away from civilization for weekend recreation. More technical info on the new Ridgeline here.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy