2017 Honda Ridgeline Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
January 19, 2017
What Did We Get?
As recently as three years ago, the midsize pickup market consisted of just two trucks: the Nissan Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma, neither of which had been fully redesigned in more than a decade. But the introduction (or reintroduction, you might say) of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in 2015 and then Toyota's redesigned 2016 Tacoma breathed some life into the once-stagnant segment. For 2017, we have another reintroduction: the new Honda Ridgeline.
Like the previous-generation Ridgeline (sold from 2006 to 2014), the new model is a distinctive choice for a midsize truck. The rear seat is quite roomy, providing a nice middle ground between mid- and full-size crew-cab pickups in terms of legroom. The rest of the cabin shares its overall design and technology with Honda's Pilot crossover SUV and features materials of a higher quality than you'll get from competitors.
With our decision to get a Ridgeline cemented, we consulted the trim list to determine which features we'd want for our 12-month test.
What Options Does It Have?
Every 2017 Honda Ridgeline comes in a crew-cab body style with a 5-foot-4-inch bed, a six-speed automatic transmission, and a 3.5-liter V6 with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
Seven trims are available: RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E and Black Edition. The first five come in front- or all-wheel drive, while the RTL-E and Black Edition are strictly AWD only.
Jumping from one trim to the next typically involves a modest price increase for a few more features. Not so between the RTL-T and RTL-E. For one, the RTL-E comes standard with the pricier AWD configuration, and it adds a considerable number of safety and luxury features to the Ridgeline. These include forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, LED headlights and cargo lights, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel and parking sensors. The range-topping Black Edition offers a few cosmetic changes inside and out, and we didn't feel these additions were worth an extra $1,500.
After some price versus features debate, we chose the RTL-E. We think it suits the Ridgeline's character as a roomier, more comfortable, less truck-y alternative to midsize pickups such as the Colorado and Tacoma.
Like most Hondas (and unlike every other pickup), features are directly tied to the trim level and there aren't any factory-installed options. Some dealer-installed accessories are available, such as a CD player and a storage bin located under the rear seats, but we opted not to get these. With a $900 destination charge, our 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E rings in at $42,270.
Why We Got It
Honda's take on what a pickup should be like is unique. It's the only vehicle in its class to have carlike unibody construction and a fully independent suspension. The combination gives the Ridgeline a more comfortable ride quality than other traditional pickups with their body-on-frame construction and solid rear-axle suspension. Out back, the tailgate is hinged on the bottom and the left side, so you can drop it down or swing it open depending on your needs. There's lockable under-bed storage, and the high-end RTL-E even includes audio speakers in the bed for tailgate parties.
A potential drawback to the Ridgeline is its reduced towing and off-road abilities, at least compared to those of rivals. Will the Ridgeline's more carlike demeanor win the day, or will we pine for the more rugged approach of a traditional pickup?
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor @ 1,445 miles