Full 2013 Honda Ridgeline Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline gets a standard rearview camera for all trim levels.
If you're using a pickup for a trade or serious towing, then a conventional pickup still is the way to go. But if you only occasionally require the utility of a pickup, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline is worth considering.
There are plenty of full-size pickups with beds barely longer than the 2013 Honda Ridgeline's 5-foot box and with the same 50-inch width, so the Ridgeline's no less capable as a cargo hauler than many run-of-the-mill crew cab battlewagons. At the same time, it gives you a much more manageable footprint. And while you still enjoy a high-set seating position and admirable ground clearance, the Ridgeline's fully independent suspension and lighter, car-based structure make it more nimble than most conventional pickups.
Honda keeps the Ridgeline simple with a single four-door body style, one engine and an all-wheel-drive system for all models. The 2013 Ridgeline's cabin is wide and spacious and loaded with versatility for cargo and passengers. But for the higher driving position, you could be in any number of Honda's cars or crossovers -- if they also had the bed out back, handy in-floor storage locker and a tailgate that swings or drops down traditional-pickup style.
The Ridgeline has some notable drawbacks, though. Its lighter-duty suspension and structure makes it more of an urban hauler that gets you through difficult weather or mild off-pavement excursions than a true off-roader. The Ridgeline's V6 power also falls short of the V8s or turbocharged V6s in full-size domestic pickups, and its fuel economy isn't so great, either.
If you need a pickup but can't sacrifice standard pickup toughness, stick with similar-sized conventional pickups such as the Nissan Frontier or 2013 Toyota Tacoma. Both offer more body styles and heavier-duty undercarriages. But the Ridgeline and its all-around versatility might be best thought of as an alternative to midsize crossovers useful in so many suburban households.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline is a five-passenger midsize pickup truck offered in a single four-door crew cab body style with four available trim levels: RT, Sport, RTS and top-of-the-line RTL.
The entry-level RT is well-equipped with standard features including 17-inch steel wheels, a power-sliding rear window, air-conditioning, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat (with under-seat storage), a rearview camera, full power accessories, cruise control, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player.
The Sport adds 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, foglights, special exterior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auxiliary audio jack.
To the RT's features list, the RTS adds 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat and an upgraded seven-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer. The top-level RTL gets 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a sunroof, leather upholstery, ambient console lighting, heated front seats, a 115-volt AC power outlet and satellite radio.
The Ridgeline's factory options list is limited to a navigation system with Bluetooth, and is only available for the RTL.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline offers only a 3.5-liter V6 generating 250 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. Power flows through a five-speed automatic transmission and a standard all-wheel-drive system, although in normal driving power is sent almost exclusively to the front wheels. The system can be locked in all-wheel-drive mode at speeds up to 18 mph. In Edmunds testing, the Ridgeline accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, a little slower than most competing trucks.
EPA estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined -- mediocre considering the Ridgeline V6's modest power and performance. Some full-size traditional pickups with more powerful V6s are rated better. On the bright side, the Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 pounds, a limit similar to some V6-powered full-size pickups. The Ridgeline's payload and towing capacity is less than many V6 midsize pickups equipped with trailer-tow packages, however.
Every Ridgeline comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags (with rollover sensor) and front seat active head restraints.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Ridgeline received the organization's highest "Good" rating in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes, as well as for roof-strength testing. In Edmunds testing, the Ridgeline required 133 feet to stop from 60 mph, a little long for a midsize pickup.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline's cabin is wide, as are its seats, and entry into the front or rear seats is easy, something we can't always say about the rear seat of conventional midsize pickups. The gauges are large and easy to read, and major and secondary controls are operated by large stalks and knobs suitable for gloved hands. Secondary controls for the audio and climate-control systems are simple and functional, perhaps reflecting the overall age of the Ridgeline's interior design. Another tipoff to the relative age of the truck's infotainment architecture: Bluetooth hands-free phone control, often standard on even the most modest of new models, is optional. And even then, you'll have to first buy the RTL trim level to get it.
But the Ridgeline's car-type structure lends a more comfortable and nicely trimmed interior than you'll find on most competing pickups. Handy and capacious storage spaces and cupholders abound. The 60/40-split rear seat folds to make room for large items that won't fit in the bed's 8.5-cubic-foot lockable stowage area, although it is capable of holding a bag or two of golf clubs. The lockable trunk's drain plugs allow for all manner of potentially sloppy uses, but anything in there might have to be removed if you need access to the spare tire under the bed floor.
The 2013 Ridgeline's carlike independent suspension delivers a smooth and quiet ride compared to conventional pickups and handling is more responsive, too. The Ridgeline's 3.5-liter V6's output is sufficient, but the truck's excessive weight, coupled with an automatic transmission with just five gears, means disappointing fuel economy for a truck that should have more of an advantage in its class.