2017 Honda Ridgeline

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2017 Honda Ridgeline

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The Honda Ridgeline is a new answer to an old problem: How do you make a big truck small? The usual solution is build a full-size truck in miniature, with body-on-frame construction and a solid axle in the rear. The new-for-2017 Honda Ridgeline has found another path. It's built like a crossover SUV, with unibody construction and four-wheel independent suspension. The result is a pickup truck that trumps other midsize trucks in terms of ride, handling and overall smoothness.

And yet this innovative design doesn't impact its usability as much as you might expect: The Ridgeline's pickup bed is longer and wider than the competition's, and it carries more cargo. It has a two-way tailgate and an innovative in-bed trunk: a sizable (and lockable) storage bin beneath the bed floor.

Yes, there are compromises. The Ridgeline tows less than other midsize trucks, which generally pull in the 6,000- to 7,500-pound range. The Ridgeline with optional all-wheel drive is limited to 5,000 pounds. The two-wheel-drive Ridgeline is rated for just 3,500 pounds of towing. (It's also front-wheel-drive, not rear-wheel.) And while the all-wheel-drive system is great for bad-weather traction, the lack of a low range, and the Ridgeline's reduced ground clearance mean it can't venture as far off the beaten path as some dedicated off-road pickups.

On the other hand, a highlight of the Ridgeline's design is its spacious four-door crew cab, which is roomier and easier to see out of than other midsize pickups. Whether you're up front or in the back, seat comfort and space are excellent. The dashboard design is user-friendly and quality is top-notch. Our one big complaint — and it is a big one — is the touchscreen infotainment system found in higher trim levels. The interface is irritating, the touch-zones are tiny, and the volume slider is just plain wonky. We prefer the entry-level stereo system, which lacks navigation but has an ordinary volume knob. You'll have to do without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, however.

All Ridgelines are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 delivering 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. EPA fuel economy estimates are 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway) for the front-wheel-drive version and 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) with all-wheel drive. Acceleration is quick and smooth: 7.0 seconds to 60 mph in Edmunds testing. Handling and ride quality both far exceed that of other midsize pickup trucks. Some pickup trucks may have carlike attributes, but this one drives like a car, period. However, if you need to tow a heavy trailer or want to do any serious off-roading, the Ridgeline is not your best choice.

Honda builds the Ridgeline in a staggering seven models: RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E and Black Edition. Hondas generally have no options: The trim level determines equipment. The base RT, however, is not a stripped-down work truck, but one with a decent level of standard equipment. Subsequent trim levels add desirable comfort and safety equipment. Whatever your preference, Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Honda Ridgeline for you.

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