“Can somebody transfer the Pilot?” somebody would name over the radio. “That is the Ridgeline,” would come the eye-rolling response. Do not get us mistaken, we just like the Honda Ridgeline right here at MotorTrend, however that precise dialog should’ve performed out 50 occasions throughout our 2017 Truck of the Year competition. Everybody mistook the Ridgeline for our long-term Honda Pilot. If it had been the 2021 Honda Ridgeline, that by no means would’ve occurred.
Let’s simply get it out of the best way. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline midsize pickup appeared like a Honda Pilot large SUV that had been Sawzall-converted right into a truck (a surprisingly widespread development amongst Los Angeles pool cleaners). That is not stunning, given the Pilot and Ridgeline have the identical unibody platform beneath, additionally shared with the Odyssey minivan. (Honda engineers hate it once we say that, so we’ll level out the mattress construction is considerably completely different beneath than the rear finish of a Pilot or Odyssey.) We dubbed the softer, rounder styling a retrograde transfer from the blocky, tough-looking first-generation Ridgeline, and it has been the truck’s largest downside since.
Not now. Honda listened to the critics and toughened the 2021 Ridgeline right up. The grille and headlights have been squared up a bit and now stand upright, and an influence dome bulge within the hood to clear it offers the Ridgeline a touch of that child big-rig look all of the full-size vans have been doing because the ’94 Dodge Ram. A pair of chrome exhaust suggestions poking out of a brand new rear bumper steals a visible trick from present Ram pickup to finish the look. It is a number of small modifications, however the general impact is dramatic. This does not appear to be an SUV with a mattress; this appears to be like like a truck.
The up to date Ridgeline nonetheless does not drive like a truck, although, and we’re nonetheless not complaining. A totally unbiased suspension in any respect 4 corners permits for higher particular person wheel management and considerably much less unsprung weight on the rear. Consequently, the Ridgeline rides and drives like a contemporary SUV, not like a pickup truck. It is extra planted and assured in a nook on pavement and has much less physique roll than conventional vans. Bumps are much better absorbed and do not upset the chassis wherever close to as a lot. Regardless of the distinctive suspension design, the Ridgeline Sport nonetheless claims the best payload capability in its class (1,583 kilos) when outfitted with all-wheel drive (Ridgeline) or four-wheel drive (every part else).
It is an necessary distinction. Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system is a formidable piece of engineering, in a position to ship as much as 70 % of engine energy to the rear wheels after which ship 100 % of that energy to both rear wheel as wanted. It is a slick system, but it surely has its pluses and minuses. Within the good column, the pc can put energy precisely the place it is wanted and alter the best way it responds relying on the situations. This implies placing the truck in Sand mode, for instance, makes a severe distinction off-road with extra wheelspin to maintain accelerates and torque-vectoring that pushes energy to the skin wheel and rotates the truck in a flip. Within the minus column, there is no low-range gear for severe crawling, and there aren’t any true lockable differentials.
The elements Honda engineers have chosen and their design priorities additionally restrict towing capability to five,000 kilos; one of the best within the class pull 7,500.
Design selections additionally critically restrict issues like method, breakover, and departure angle, to not point out floor clearance. The Ridgeline is just decrease to the bottom, which is healthier for aerodynamics and effectivity however worse for off-roading. In truth, sticking the exhaust suggestions out the bumper truly knocks 1.5 levels off the departure angle, although versatile mounts enable them to tuck up into the bumper in the event that they drag.
Level is, should you’re shopping for a midsize truck to drag heavy trailers or do some rock crawling, the Ridgeline is not for you. In case you’re doing actually anything, although, it is a critically compelling truck. The twin-opening tailgate (drop down or swing open), which makes loading and unloading heavy cargo loads simpler, is just kind of being copied by full-size vans (not midsize). Similar with the non-obligatory in-bed stereo system and ultra-strong composite mattress. The lockable in-bed trunk is clutch for each bringing extra stuff and maintaining it safe and out of sight, and it could actually flip it right into a pool or a cooler because of the drain plug. Nobody else is doing something like that. Then there’s the truth that the Ridgeline presents far and away the largest and most comfy cabin within the class.
That cabin’s additionally seen a number of updates since final we lined a Ridge. The Honda Sensing suite of lively and passive security options have been normal since this technology got here out. A push-button shifter was launched as normal final 12 months, and for 2021, the infotainment system lastly will get its quantity knob again.
The shifter is now related to a typical nine-speed automated transmission and all-wheel drive, putting off the previous six-speed and the front-drive base mannequin. With extra aggressive gear ratios, the 2021 Ridgeline is considerably faster, should you get it proper. Our take a look at workforce reported a really high quality line between a robust launch and a complete lavatory, however get it proper, and you may hit 60 mph in 6.Three seconds, a couple of second faster than most different second-generation Ridgelines we have examined.
In any other case, although, efficiency is the same as it’s ever been: lifeless even with the remainder of the category. Sure, you might need seen the tires look much more off-roady than earlier than, but it surely’s not what it appears to be like like. Honda labored with Firestone so as to add some chunky tread blocks to the shoulders of the Vacation spot LE2 all-season tires to make them look cooler and added some wheel offset to push them out flush with the physique. The blocks most likely assist a tiny bit in mud and sand, however that is it.
You get the tire dress-up regardless of which 2021 Ridgeline you buy, however not the wheels you see right here. Our take a look at truck was outfitted with the $2,800 HPD look package deal, which additionally will get you the huge plastic fender flares, a special grille, blacked-out trim, and the HPD stickers and badge. You’d have bother spending that a lot cash on the identical aftermarket elements, so until you actually dig the look, skip it.
Not less than it does not do something to the gas economic system. In case you’re purchasing Ridgelines, you might need seen the freeway ranking has gone down barely. Making the truck look more durable was dangerous for aerodynamics, however Honda designers labored exhausting to claw again each little bit of drag coefficient misplaced. These new intakes under the headlights, for instance, are useful. Though the workforce did not utterly mitigate the losses, the Ridgeline nonetheless will get a few of the greatest gasoline-powered gas economic system within the class.
Even with out the wheel and sticker package deal, it is easy to be confused about the 2021 Ridgeline’s pricing. At first look, it seems to have gone up a ton. It did not, nonetheless—not once you evaluate options. Sure, the bottom value is 1000’s greater than in 2020, however that is as a result of the cheaper front-drive mannequin is gone. In comparison with final 12 months’s all-wheel-drive mannequin, the value has barely gone up, and it stays proper on par with opponents in four-wheel-drive and four-door cab configuration. You should buy a less expensive midsize truck than the Ridgeline, however solely by sacrificing house and a few functionality.
With the Ridgeline’s largest failings—its decidedly un-trucky appears to be like and lack of a quantity knob—resolved, there’s actually no purpose to not suggest it. No, it is not for the hardcore purchaser, however these individuals are a minority of consumers. For everybody else who simply desires to do fundamental truck stuff, some hauling, and a little bit off-roading, the Ridgeline delivers in addition to or higher than the remainder.
|2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD HPD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$40,465|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Entrance-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINE||3.5L/280-hp/262-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,444 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||210.2 x 78.6 x 70.eight in|
|0-60 MPH||6.Three sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.eight sec @ 93.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH||125 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.eight sec @ 0.61 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/24/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/140 kWh/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.96 lb/mile|