I’ve been a fan of the Honda Ridgeline since day one. Of course, maybe that’s because I’m not a traditional truck kind of guy. I use a trailer for hauling big stuff. That’s because most of the time I simply need a comfortable car to get me where I need to go. That’s why the 2017 Ridgeline is a perfect compromise. It’s both a great car and a solid truck.
Of course if you’re a true-blue worker bee who uses your truck every day to haul big stuff, then you don’t want the Ridgeline. You need a full-sized pickup with a full-sized bed. If you’re hauling a huge boat or trailer, you’ll want a pickup with a massive torque pulling engine. But I often tell people before they buy a vehicle to think about what they really want to accomplish. If you’re someone who does 98% of your driving to and from work, hauling kids, or running errands, then maybe a huge pickup isn’t the answer. Perhaps you have a horse and you need to haul all the assorted tack, or you sell things at craft fairs on the weekend. You have big stuff that just won’t fit into the hatch of your SUV. That’s exactly what the Ridgeline was born to do.
Let’s start with the comfort side. The front part of the Ridgeline is basically a Honda Pilot. They don’t share the exact same looks, but underneath it’s essentially the same. The Ridgeline is built on a unibody chassis. That means its ride is less like a truck and more like a car. Having said that, Honda says it did a lot of work to strengthen the Ridgeline’s chassis so it’s ready for business. Inside, the interior is nearly identical to the Pilot. Again, that’s the good news. It’s both comfortable and comforting. It’s not a work environment or an imposing façade. It’s exactly what you need most of the time you’re out driving.
The Ridgeline has a 280 horsepower V6 engine. That’s 30 more horsepower than the first generation. Honda says it has about a 1500 pound payload (depending on which one you choose and up to 5,000-pound towing capacity. Once again, big trucks will give you more, but this will handle most of my needs. I found the acceleration just fine. The Honda Pilot does a little better, but then it also weighs nearly 200 pounds less (all that chassis strengthening has to cost something!). That 280 horsepower engine is your only option. If you want more in a mid-sized truck you’ll need to look at something like the Chevy Colorado. But for me, the V6 would be just fine. That engine gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 21 mpg. I managed 20 mpg during my test week.
Back inside, I like the latest version of the Honda display interface that controls entertainment and so much more. Honda upgraded it last year and the changes made a big difference. I also liked the way the rear seats flip-up to give more storage space. Other mid-sized pickups have this feature, but they just don’t do it as well. About the only thing I didn’t like was the driver’s arm rest. Every time I put on my seat belt, I had to pull it up. That means adjusting it every single time. OK, it’s not a big deal, but I did find it annoying.
In the back, the truck bed is ready for either work or play. The tailgate can either swing down or open to the side. Ford invented this for its station wagons back in the late 1960s, and I’m surprised more trucks don’t do this. It simply makes it easier to load something heavy into the bad without pushing it across the tailgate. The Ridgeline has speakers embedded in the side walls so you can crank up your tunes wherever you stop. Another useful extra is a large lockable storage compartment under the bed. You could store lots of boring stuff, or you could fill it with ice and plenty of drinks for your tailgate party. It even has a drain plug at the bottom.
One thing Honda did was make the 2017 Ridgeline a little more traditional looking. Gone is the sloping C-pillar that extended from the cab down to the truck bed. Now it looks more like all the other trucks, which could help win over the folks who want the standard look.
The Ridgeline starts at $29,475. My test truck was the all-wheel-drive RTL-E. With plenty of options (including some great safety stuff like lane keeper assist and forward collision mitigation), it came in at $42,270.
Everyone who buys a truck does it for different reasons. If you need a big truck to do beefy work, there are plenty of options. But if you want a truck that will give you the best of both worlds, I think the latest version of the Honda Ridgeline is a great choice.