by: Mike Ginsca,
Is the Honda Ridgeline a pickup truck? Well it looks like one and has the capabilities of one. However there are those that refuse to acknowledge it as a truck but rather an SUV with a bed. So what is the Honda Ridgeline?
Engine – The Honda Ridgeline’s specs are more or less in tune with other midsize pickup trucks. It is powered by a 3.5L V6 producing 280hp and 262 lb-ft of torque which is more than enough power to tow up to 5,000 lbs; its maximum tow rating. While the engine’s power is a healthy amount, it’s all at the top of the rpm range. Peak torque isn’t reached until the engine is spinning at 4,700 rpms. As a result, when you’re towing or carrying any cargo, the engine has to work hard to get the truck up to speed.
But when the Honda is not loaded up with cargo or passengers, it can achieve a fuel economy rating of 12.6 L/100km (18.7 mpg) in a city and 10 L/100km (23.5 mpg) on a highway. Not bad for a big 3.5L V6 and better yet in the real world, I was averaging around 12 L/100km during my time with the Ridgeline.
Transmission – When this second generation Honda Ridgeline was introduced in 2017, it had a 6-speed automatic. This 2019 still has to make due with this transmission. But for 2020, Honda is pairing the V6 engine with their 9-speed automatic transmission. But until that time comes, this 6-speed automatic is still a good transmission. The transmission shifts gears smoothly and even at highway speeds, the engine is not spinning at a ludicrous amount of rpms.
Braking – The brakes are relatively strong for a midsize truck. There is quite a bit of pedal travel but that makes it very easy to modulate the braking force with your foot making for smooth stops. Forward collision alert and emergency automatic braking are standard features across the entire Ridgeline range.
Handling – Because the Honda Ridgeline has a unibody construction rather than a cab-on-frame construction like most other trucks, it is one of the best pickups to drive. Four wheel independent suspension and a sharp steering response make it stable and easy to drive for anyone on any road.
Capabilities – Towing is rated at 5000 lbs with maximum cargo at 1485 lbs for this Black Edition model. The cargo rating is similar to most other midsize pickups but the towing rating is on average 2000 lbs less than the competition. The Ridgeline’s lack of 4×4 with low range gearing, a solid rear axle, and box or C frame construction prevents it from having the 7000+ lb towing rating of the competition. The bed of the Ridgeline is not as tall as the competition from Chevrolet or GMC but it does offer a clever in-bed storage that is waterproof and lockable. The tailgate also has a clever design as it can open in the traditional sense as well as a side hinge.
Ride Comfort – Due to its fully independent suspension, the Ridgeline doesn’t feel anything like a traditional pickup truck. Instead it drives smoothly over bumps and road imperfections without much body roll. The supportive seats add to the comfort by providing good padding for long distance trips.
Interior Space – With its wider body than the likes of the Chevrolet Colorado, the Honda Ridgeline feels much more spacious. The driving position is high up and getting in and out is a breeze for anyone. The rear seats also offer much more space than the competition and they can fold up to provide excellent rear storage for tall items.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – With its unibody construction, noises that intrude into the cabin are generally the same as those in an SUV. There is some road noise from the winter tires that were equipped on this test vehicle as well as a bit of wind noise when on a highway. However, neither of these noises are very obtrusive and you can still have a long drive without feeling fatigued.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Apart from the advanced safety features such as lane departure warning and keep, blind spot sensors, emergency automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control, the Honda Ridgeline Black Edition doesn’t bring anything new to the table since its introduction in 2017. The infotainment system is the older generation and not the new iteration that is found in the Honda Accord. There still isn’t a volume knob. But on the plus side, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across all trim levels.
Exterior Design – This Black Edition adds, as the name suggests, black trim pieces. Black wheels, black chrome grille bar, black door handles and door surrounds are part of this package. Strangely though in addition to the black colour, it’s also available in white.
Interior Design – Stepping in the Honda Ridgeline feels a lot like stepping in the Honda Pilot because it shares a lot of the interior design. The controls for the different features are positioned where you’d expect them to be making for very easy learning and muscle memory. The materials used in the cabin are soft to the touch and have a premium feel when compared to other pickups in this segment. The Black Edition adds Black Edition floor mats, “Black Edition” stitching in the seats, and red ambient lighting.
The Honda Ridgeline starts at $42,490 CAD (33,900 USD) and goes up to $51,190 CAD ($43,520 USD) for this Black Edition trim. The starting price is a bit more than the competition but you get more features as standard so it makes for better value. This Black Edition is less expensive than the most expensive Chevrolet Colorado or Ford Ranger but even so, it’s not the one I’d recommend. Save approximately $2,000 and opt for the Touring trim (RTL-E in U.S.) or if you’re ok with not having ventilated seats, navigation, blind spot sensors, and LED headlamps, go for the EX-L (RTL in U.S.) and save an additional $4,000. But is the Ridgeline better than other mid-size trucks? For day-to-day use and carrying smaller items in the bed, absolutely. That’s how most truck owners use their pickups anyway so why not be in comfort while doing so?
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Honda.ca