We at Edmunds happen to love the old Ridgeline, and we have repeatedly ranked it as the best midsize truck. What else does Honda have in store for the 2021 model?
TRAVIS LANGNESS: This is the Honda Ridgeline. It's Edmunds' top ranked midsize pickup truck for years. And we know what you're thinking, and we know you're going to type it in the comments below. And we'd appreciate it if you take caps lock off for it, but, yes, it is a truck. And this 2021 model has had some changes, so we want to tell you why it's remained Edmunds' top rated pickup truck.
So what does that mean? Can it tow and haul the most? Can it go the furthest off road? The Edmunds' testing process is about finding the best overall vehicle, so while that means looping in the other stuff, we also like to look at on-road performance, comfort, tech, what's the interior like, and how useful is it on a day-to-day basis. We're going to go into all those details with the 2021 Honda Ridgeline in this video, and if you want to see more videos like this, be sure to click the link below to subscribe and go to Edmunds.com/sellmycar to get a cash offer on your car or truck today.
First thing's first, it looks like a truck. Woo. Yes. From the A pillar forward, this has got all new sheet metal. It's new bulging hood, boxier fenders, and that big kind of squared out grill.
It doesn't look like an SUV that's had the back chopped off anymore. It looks more like a purpose-built truck, which is good. And it's also got all wheel drive as standard. No more front wheel drive, which means the price goes up a little bit, but you get a standard 5,000-pound tow rating.
On the inside, you get updated infotainment graphics. You get available wireless smartphone charging, and a volume knob is back. Every Ridgeline gets a new dual exhaust, and across the model lineup, there are all sorts of new packages like this HPD package that adds plastic cladding and gold wheels. I'm here for it.
In the bed is where the Ridgeline stands out from the rest of the segment. It's got this composite bedliner so you don't need to do a spray on bedliner, and it's got all sorts of cool features, stuff like in-bed storage, which can be used as a second trunk, or it can be used to wash out your muddy gear. There's even a drain at the bottom to let it all go.
Then there's the multifunction tailgate. It opens up and down or side to side, which is something you don't get in any other midsize truck. It's also the only midsize truck that can fit a sheet of 4x8 plywood without sitting on top of the fender walls. And on upper trim levels, you get stuff like an in-bed plug, or you can turn these sides into speakers with drivers. Tailgate mode. How cool is that?
It's also got a pretty impressive payload, over 1,500 pounds, which means you can put a quad or a couple of motorcycles in here without overloading the capacity. Admittedly, the Ridgeline does have a drawback in the towing department. It maxes out at 5,000 pounds. Rivals, like the Colorado, max out over 7,000 pounds, but when you think about what you're towing on a regular basis, 5,000 pounds is quite a bit.
It can accommodate stuff like small boats or dolly trailers. Even a lightweight aluminum car trailer would be just fine. And if you're towing near 7,000 pounds all the time, it's going to be a pretty awful experience to do it in a midsize pickup truck. You might want to think about full size at that point.
On the inside, there is a ton of space in the Ridgeline. I mean, it's a pilot after all, right? There's good driving position, and the materials are decent. The sport trim level, the base, has some hard plastics around you, but it's better than anything you get in a base Tacoma or Colorado. And as you move up the trim levels to things like the RTL and the RTLE, things get really nice inside the Ridgeline.
There's also all this great Honda storage solution stuff, so you get multiple levels of storage in the door, multiple levels of storage below the infotainment screen, and this massive center console that's bigger than anything in the class. Plus there's a couple of USB ports, and power outlets, and pretty decent touchscreen that's now got a volume knob.
Since the Ridgeline only comes in crew cab configuration, you get a pretty big rear seat. It's got more leg room than almost anything in the class, and it's got these great flip up seats with a flat floor so you can store all kinds of big items in the back if you don't want to throw them in the bed or in the trunk in the bed. There are a lot of storage solutions in this truck.
No matter what it looks, like the Ridgeline has never had the rough and tumble body on frame capability of some other midsize trucks, but what it does have is an excellent balance between truck capabilities and on-road comfort. Under the hood, you have the same V6 and nine speed automatic as previous model years, and they make a great combo. At our test track, this is one of the fastest vehicles in the segment, and according to EPA estimates, it's also one of the most fuel efficient vehicles in the segment.
What the Ridgeline doesn't have though is any optional powertrains, so while some rivals have a four cylinder and a V6 or an optional diesel, with the Ridgeline, this one engine is what you get. It is, however, the most comfortable, and quiet, and refined pickup truck on the highway in the segment. It doesn't get upset by mid-corner bumps. It soaks up most of the road imperfections in the city, and steering and handling are car-like. They're really top notch and better than what you would expect from a truck that's this capable.
So what does the Ridgeline offer in terms of off-road capability? Well, there's no skid plates. There's no lift kit. You can't get off road knobby tires or remote reservoir shocks on this one, but it does have standard all wheel drive now and independent suspension, which means it's less likely to blow out of shock at Racetrack Playa.
Let me tell you what I mean. So Edmunds took our old long term Ridgeline line, a 2017 model, same underpinnings as this truck, out to a place called Racetrack Playa. It is a brutal 26-mile drive down a washboard road to get to the racetrack. It's a big open space in the desert, and our Ridgeline blew out a shock along the way, one of four. But the other two support trucks, Toyota Tacoma and a Nissan Titan, blew out two and four shocks respectively.
Click the card thing wherever it is for more information. But basically what we discovered was all that heavy equipment hanging out underneath those trucks caused more stress on the shocks and caused them to fail. So what you get with a truck like the Ridgeline is the capability to go places off road that aren't necessarily the toughest in terms of, woo-hoo, articulation, but you can still get to beautiful destinations with a little bit of guidance.
So, yes, if you want to use a term like lifestyle truck, fine, go ahead. But this truck is not a poser. It can do truck things. And if I'm honest, the Ridgeline is more comfortable on these kinds of roads anyways. If I'm just going somewhere, a staging area to launch my motocross bike, or I want to have a nice picnic in nature, maybe do some hiking somewhere that I've never seen before, the Ridgeline is going to be more comfortable on the way there. And when I'm done adventuring, it's going to be more comfortable on the way home.
The Ridgeline also has some cool traction management modes, which I'll go through now, normal, snow, mud, and sand. What sand does is allow you to loosen up the traction control a little bit and have some fun. Woo-hoo. So if you're not going over crazy rocks, you can just toss it around on the sand.
Defining the Ridgeline as a pickup truck totally makes sense. Just look back at the long history of cars with the back cut off, the El Camino, the Ranchero. Even the Ford Model T had a truck version, right? What doesn't make sense is putting it up against vehicles like the Gladiator, the Tacoma TRD Pro just because it's got tougher looks. The tougher looks are great, and hopefully it'll get buyers in the door and help them realize that their needs aren't dictated by the small percentage of things they think they'll do but what they'll actually do with a pickup truck.
The Ridgeline can do 90% of what you see in truck commercials anyways. You can splash it through the mud. You can take it to Home Depot and load it up with lumber. You can take it out to the desert and go camping for the weekend. And on the times in between those adventures, it's going to be a better vehicle to live with on a day-to-day basis.
So go ahead. Stand up to the truck bullies, the ones that call you a poser, the ones that say it's not a real truck. It's a truck. Come on.
Bring on the comments. I'm waiting to read them. Caps lock. For more videos like this, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you want a cash offer on your car today, go to Edmunds.com/sellmycar.