By Steve Wheeler
With several high-profile introductions in the past few years, the mid-size truck segment is on fire. The Honda Ridgeline has a far smoother ride than you’d expect in a truck. It provides a significant payload of 1,584 pounds and it can haul up to 5,000 pounds. Truck shoppers, the Ridgeline is worth a second look.
At first glance, the most obvious change to the Ridgeline is the loss of about 3 feet of sheet metal that slanted down from the roof to the sides of the bed. The new bed in the Ridgeline is more traditional looking, and items in the front of the bed can now be reached from the side.
The new 66-inch-long bed (nearly 4 inches longer than the previous model) has a lockable, waterproof storage compartment below the deck, which sits a little higher than a traditional bed. There’s room for the truck’s spare tire under here too, meaning you don’t have to lie on the ground to get your spare tire out if you have a flat.
LED lights are strategically located in the bed, which is constructed of a UV-stabilized high-strength composite bed that needs no bed liner. Honda also says the Ridgeline is the only mid-sized truck bed that can flat haul 4-foot-wide items between the wheel wells.
The Ridgeline has a dual-action tailgate and an available 115v outlet in the bed, as well as eight tie-down cleats. Also available is a Truck Bed Audio system, great for tailgating.
The engine in the Ridgeline is a new 3.5-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is rated at 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque and promises to deliver 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway (AWD). For 2WD models, add one mpg to each category.
The new Ridgeline is available only in a 4-door crew cab configuration, but Honda provides lots of choices in trim levels: RT, RTS, Sport, RT-L, RTL-E and a special “Black Edition.” The last two are available only in AWD, and the others have a choice of 2WD or AWD.
The “right-sized” Honda Ridgeline is 210 inches long with a 125.2-inch wheelbase, meaning it will fit easily in most garages.
The Ridgeline has lots of standard and optional features including a new 8-inch Display Audio touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a satellite navigation system, tri-zone air, push-button start, remote engine start, a power sliding rear window and LED lighting inside and out.
The new Display Audio system, standard in the 2017 Ridgeline RTL-T, RTL-E and Black Edition, is the most advanced system ever offered by Honda. The intuitive and easy-to-use 8-inch touchscreen lets you swipe, tap and pinch — just like on a tablet or smartphone — to control the vehicle’s audio system, display settings and other advanced features.
The operation of the audio and connectivity interface is fairly intuitive and easy, save for one thing: radio tuning and volume control are via the touch screen. I much prefer knobs when changing stations or adjusting volume in a moving truck.
The 5-passenger Ridgeline cabin is comfortable and roomy, even in the second row. Headroom in front is 40.1 inches and in the back it is 38.8 inches. Front seat legroom is 40.9 inches while rear seat legroom is 36.7 inches. There’s also 2.9 cubic feet of storage space below the second row seat.
The 2017 Ridgeline has a wide range of standard and available safety systems and technologies, and although tests have not been completed, Honda is predicting the truck will win top safety scores from the government and insurance industry.
These smaller trucks are rapidly gaining in popularity; they’re easier to park, they’re good off road and unlike some full-size pickups, they actually fit into garages. As the mid-size truck segment – aka the “right-sized truck segment” – takes off, it’s nice to see Honda back in the game.
2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD RTL-E
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 280 / 262 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic (AWD)
Price: $41,370 plus freight
EPA mileage rating: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined (AWD)
Fuel tank/highway range: 19.5 gallons/488 miles