Honda has reintroduced its versatile Ridgeline pickup truck for 2017 after a two-year hiatus, giving this second generation a complete makeover, new technology and improved fuel economy.
Prices begin at $29,475 (plus $900 freight) for the base RT model with front-wheel drive, and range as high as $42,870 for the top-of-the-line Black Edition with all-wheel drive.
Overall, there are five front-drive trim levels, and seven all-wheel-drive versions. Other two-wheel-drive versions are the RTS ($31,515); Sport ($33,015), RTL ($33,780); and the RTL-T ($35,930),
The all-wheel-drive models begin with the RT ($31,275), followed by the RTS ($33,315); Sport ($34,815); RTL ($35,580); RTL-T ($37,730); RTL-E ($41,370); and the Black Edition.
Our test vehicle for this report was the RTL-E all-wheel-drive version.
Honda discontinued the Ridgeline at the end of the 2014 model year, but decided to bring it back, and it went on sale this summer as an early 2017 model.
Despite the makeover, it’s still readily identifiable as a Ridgeline. It still comes with four full-size doors, and has some new premium features such as standard LED taillights, and available LED projector-beam headlights and LED daytime running lights.
It’s also still essentially a Honda Pilot midsize crossover with the third row seat and cargo area converted into a 5-foot, 4-inch pickup cargo bed. Interior appointments and other features are nearly identical to those of the newest Pilot.
The Ridgeline seats up to five people, with two bucket seats up front and a three-person bench in the rear. In our tester, two adults could ride comfortably in the back seat, but knee room was somewhat limited when the front seats were pushed back on their tracks to accommodate larger riders in the front.
Inside, Honda gave the Ridgeline a more-upscale look, using high-quality, soft-touch materials throughout. Some of the new features include LED map lights. Other standard or optional amenities include a 4.2-inch color display, and available heated front seats and steering wheel.
Based on Honda's global light-truck architecture, the Ridgeline is a unibody vehicle – essentially a crossover pickup – with Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering safety body structure.
It includes fully independent front and rear suspensions with Amplitude Reactive Dampers, proving vastly improved ride comfort and handling compared with a conventional body-on-frame truck such as the Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier.
Honda says the new Ridgeline is tops in its class for quietness inside the cabin, and for its “anticipated collision safety performance.” We found the cabin of our tester to be relatively quiet for a pickup – thanks to its Pilot heritage. Conversation was possible with backseat passengers even at highway speeds.
Under the hood of all models is a more-powerful and fuel-efficient direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine, cranking out 280 horsepower and 262 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with a wider gear-ratio spread. The previous Ridgeline had a five-speed automatic.
This powertrain offers plenty of power for all situations, including mountain grades and uphill freeway on-ramps. It also allows the Ridgeline RTL-E to tow trailers weighing up to 5,000 pounds.
A new Intelligent Variable Torque Management system with torque vectoring comes with all-wheel drive models, Honda says it’s “the most advanced [all-wheel drive] technology in the midsize truck class,” which “results in class-leading EPA fuel economy ratings, along with superior all-weather traction and handling capability and robust medium-duty off-road performance.
EPA ratings for front-drive Ridgeline models are 19 mpg city/26 highway/22 combined. For all-wheel-drive versions, the ratings are 18/25/21. During our test week, we averaged 23.6 mpg, with a mix of about two-thirds highway and the rest city driving.
The all-wheel drive is not designed for serious off-road mud, sand and trail driving, however, as it does not have low-range gearing necessary for extreme four-wheel-drive operation on steep, rough or slippery surfaces.
Honda says the 2017 Ridgeline also offers consumers more choices than ever before including a new eight-inch Display Audio touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility; the newest Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System; three-zone automatic climate control (front driver/passenger and rear seat), keyless entry and pushbutton start (with remote engine start); a power/sliding rear window; and a multi-angle rearview camera system.
A Class III towing hitch is standard, and AWD models have a seven-pin wiring connector.
Among standard safety features are four-channel, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist and hill-start assist; electronic stability control with traction control; Trailer Stability Assist; Agile Handling Assist; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front air bags; driver and front-passenger side air bags; side-curtain air bags for all four outboard seating positions; and a new Tire Pressure Monitoring System with real-time display of individual tire pressures.
The cargo bed is 3.9 inches longer than the previous generation’s, and has an overall payload capacity of 1,584 pounds. The cargo bed extends to nearly 8 feet long with the load-supporting dual-action tailgate lowered.
The bed is 60 inches wide, except between the rear wheel wells, where it’s 50 inches wide. It’s capable of hauling heavy objects, and there are eight tie-down cleats, each rated to secure 350 pounds, Honda says.
It has a lockable 7.3 cubic-foot trunk, under the rear of the cargo bed, and a unique tailgate that will swing down like that of a conventional pickup, or open to the side to get it completely out of the way when loading or unloading the trunk.
Arguably the most-stylish and carlike pickup on the market, the Ridgeline can accommodate the family quite comfortably, while also bringing along luggage secured in the trunk, and cool stuff riding in the bed – such as ATVs, kayaks, motorcycles and other sports or camping equipment.
Available advanced safety features include the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Depending on the trim level, the Ridgeline also can be equipped with Honda LaneWatch, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, and a blind-spot information system. All models have the rearview camera system.
Besides all-wheel drive, additional features that were standard on our RTL-E model, which also come on the Black Edition, include the Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, automatic high beams, collision-mitigation braking system, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Monitor, corner and backup sensors, one-touch power moon roof, the power/sliding rear window, LED bed lighting, heated outside mirrors with memory, and font and rear body-colored parking sensors.
Also exclusive to the RTL-E and Black models are automatic LED headlights, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with two-position memory, a 540-watt premium audio system with eight speakers and a subwoofer, Honda’s very cool truck-bed audio system (perfect for outdoor events), a conversation mirror with sunglasses holder, front-row courtesy door lights, front illuminated cupholders, LED front map lights, a truck-bed 110-volt power outlet, and LED ambient interior lighting (blue for the RTL-E, red for the Black Edition).
Other standard features on our tester included leather upholstery (with heated front seats), a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 1.5-amp charging port in the front, and a 1-amp port in the center console, chrome door handles (black on the Black Edition, body color on other models), capless fuel filler, Homelink, and three-zone automatic climate control.
We also had the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, which shared the eight-inch audio screen in the center of the dash. It’s one of the best nav systems I’ve tested recently, and is easy to program and follow.
The Ridgeline has a lockable trunk built into the truck bed, with a capacity of 7.3 cubic feet, designed to keep valuables secure.
Honda says the new Ridgeline was designed and developed in its Los Angeles design studio and its Raymond, Ohio, new-model development center. It’s assembled at the Honda plant in Lincoln, Ala.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2017 Honda Ridgeline
The package: Midsize, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger, V-6 powered, pickup truck.
Highlights: This is Honda’s only truck, which has returned to the lineup for 2017 with a complete redesign after a two-year break. It is roomy and comfortable, has plenty of power, and has some cool available features, including an awesome truck-bed audio system.
Negatives: Limited knee room in the back seat.
Overall length: 210 inches.
Curb weight range: 4,242-4,515 pounds.
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 280 HP./262 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Cargo volume: 33.9 cubic feet (in open truck bed); 7/3 cubic feet (in lockable truck-bed trunk).
Towing capacity: 3,500-5,000 pounds.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain both rows.
EPA fuel economy: 19 mpg city/26 highway/22 combined (2WD); 18/25/21 (4WD).
Fuel capacity/type: 19.5 gallons/unleaded regular.
Main competitors: GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma.
Base price range: $29,475-$42,870, plus $900 freight.
Price as tested: $42,270, including freight (RTL-E model, includes all-wheel drive, no options).
On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).