San Antonio, TX – The first generation Honda Ridgeline ran from 2006 through 2014. It was a different kind of truck appearing in a non-traditional form. Many viewed it as a Japanese Avalanche given its unique styling there were even a few that likened it to an El Camino although I’m not sure how.
That was then, and moving forward, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline is back, beginning its second generation following a two-year hiatus, and it now takes on a more traditional truck-like appearance. Gone are the Avalanche-like sail panels from the cab back to the bed.
This latest iteration Ridgeline comes in only one four-door, crew cab form, with one bed size, one available engine, and with only one transmission offered. It is however available in several trim levels: RT; RTS; Sport; RTL; RTL-T; RTL-E; and a Black Edition, which is in essence, a gussied up version of the RTL-E, appearing in what else? All Black. There’s but one tire choice – exclusive Firestone Destination LE2 – 245/60 R18s available to wrap one of three wheel designs. One may choose from either FWD or AWD with i-VTM4 Torque Vectoring. Base pricing will range from $29,475. To $42,870. Add a $900 Destination charge for all trim levels.
Power is supplied by a transversely mounted, normally aspirated, 3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-vave i-VTEC Direct Injection V6 engine with Variable Cylinder management, Drive-by-wire throttle system and Eco-Assist system. The V6 pumps out 280 horsepower at 6,000 rpm whiie developing 262 pound feet of torque at 4,700 rpm. Energy reaches the driving wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA Mileage Estimates are 18 mpg city / 25 mpg highway, and the fuel capacity is 19.5 gallons.
Visually, the new unibody Ridgeline displays a more modern aerodynamic profile while maintaining a basic traditional truck form with integrated spoilers at the top rear of the cab and tailgate. The hood slopes dramatically down toward the nose offering a clear view of the road surface ahead – a big plus for off-roading. Projector beam headlamps are standard fare, with LED lamps as an option. Signature Daytime running lamps and taillights are LEDs. In profile, the windshield is sharply raked aft, and there is a bright chrome trim that surrounds the glass area of the cabin, which with the blacked out “B” pillar gives the cab a coupe-like effect.
The bed of the Ridgeline is made of a tough Sheet Molded Compound (Plastic) that is impervious to wear and tear. Repeated loads of river rock, each weighing from 8-20 pounds were dropped into the bed with no ill effect. The bed measures 5’4” in length, 5-feet in width and is 16-inches deep. There are tie-down hooks, an AC power outlet (up to 400 watts in upper grades or trims), and there is still a lockable trunk storage bin with a drain (as with the original Ridgeline) beneath the bed, which will accommodate an 82 quart cooler or golf bags. The bed’s forward bulkhead can withstand a crash at 37 mph, with a 1,100 pound load with no cabin intrusion.
The lockable tailgate is a dual action or two-way affair that folds traditionally down, with molded-in seats or opens out to the left for flexibility in loading and unloading. The bed’s payload capacity is 1,584 pounds, and although only about 3 percent of Ridgeline owners will tow heavy loads, the towing capacity is 5,000 pounds and is J2708 compliant.
An additional really cool and innovative feature is the in bed audio system with hidden “audio exciters” rather than speakers behind the bed’s side panels, where they are waterproof and protected from load damage. Sound system controls may be accessed with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via smartphone.
The interior design provides a luxury car level of fit and finish – the best of any mid-size truck competitor, with soft touch dash and door linings. The dash features a 4.2-inch TFT Multi Information Display, Tri-zone AC controls, an 8-inch DA audio screen, Smart Start and a heated steering wheel on top trim levels.
The new Honda Ridgeline comes with both structural passive safety and Active safety through Honda Sensing™, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Vehicle and Pedestrian CMBS, Forward Collision Warning Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and LaneWatch™.
My test Ridgeline during the national press launch was in RTL-E trim and an AWD configuration. The exterior sported a Lunar Silver metallic finish, while the interior was done in Black. The base price was $41,370., which came to a final total of $42,270 after factoring in the Destination and Handling charge.
SUMMARY: The 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E drives and handles like a car, while possessing the ability to perform the duties of a truck. During the product launch program it was put through its paces and subjected to a variety of scenarios including: freeway driving, backroad driving through Texas Hill country, towing and hauling exercises, a Dynamic Ride and Handling course and a challenging off-road course where it was pitted against competitive trucks in its class, outperforming them all set up on the Rio Cibalo Ranch in Marion, Texas.
The ride comfort is more car than truck-like and the handling characteristics border on sporty, especially on a twisty portion of the off-road course where the i-VTM4 AWD system’s torque vectoring and adaptive, speed-sensitive, Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) came into play. The Intelligent Traction Management allowed dialing in the appropriate setting for surface conditions: Normal; Snow; Mud; and Sand.
This latest iteration Honda Ridgeline is better looking and more capable than before, and there are a host of Honda accessories available for added convenience and versatility, such as a custom tent and more. Is it the perfect mid size truck? Perhaps not for everyone, but it outshined the competitors tested including the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma in terms of performance. In terms of areas for improvement: the rear doors would benefit from a wider opening for easier ingress and egress; manual shiftability would offer an added advantage, as would a slightly longer bed to better accommodate some ATVs for instance, some states do not allow operation with the tailgate down.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E AWD
|Price as Tested:||$42,270.|
|Engine Type and Size:||3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-vave i-VTEC Direct Injection V6 with Variable Cylinder management, Drive-by-wire throttle system and Eco-Assist system.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||280 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||262 @ 4,700 rpm|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / AWD with i-VTM4 Torque Vectoring.|
Front – Strut Type with steel hub carriers (knuckles), forged-aluminum lower control arms, hydraulic bushings, coil springs and a solid stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-link with tubular stabilizer bar.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four wheel discs (vented front) with four channel ABS, VSA and EBD.|
|Tires:||Firestone DestinationLE2 – 245/60 R18 mounted on 5-spoke machine face with black painted slots|
|Length Overall:||210.0 inches|
|Curb Weight:||4,431 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||19.5 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||18-mpg city / 25-mpg highway|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.