2021 Honda Ridgeline: The Pragmatic Truck?

The refreshed 2021 Honda Ridgeline may just the perfect truck for the pragmatic consumer. Instead of focusing on bragging rights, Honda emphasized usability thanks to the myriad of storage spaces, the in-bed trunk, and an audio system integrated into the bed. Unlike rivals from General Motors, Toyota, and Ford, the Ridgeline is a unibody pickup truck. It’s a close relative to the Honda Pilot and the Odyssey minivan.

A new front fascia gives the 2021 Honda Ridgeline a more distinct look. Yes, you’ll still note the family resemblance to the Pilot and Odyssey but there are enough cues that add a tougher feel to the truck. The HPD package adds a unique grille pattern, HPD logos on the side of the bed, and gold alloy wheels. In terms of size, the Ridgeline is similar to other midsize trucks; however, you can only get it with a crew cab and a 64-inch bed. The latter is a bit wider though due to the truck being wider than most of its competitors.

Being a unibody vehicle, the Honda Ridgeline has a low step-in height, allowing for easy entry and exit. While competitors have slightly more ground clearance, the approach, departure, and break-over angles are nearly identical. The Ridgeline’s tailgate is also unique because it can open conventionally or swing sideways; unfortunately, it’s not damped and doesn’t have a mechanism to hold it in place.

Every version of the Ridgeline gets the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features. Higher trims get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Unfortunately, the Ridgeline has an older version of Honda’s infotainment system. It uses an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility but its graphics are a little dated-looking compared to the user interfaces found in the Ford Ranger and the GM twins.

Thanks to its unibody construction, the Ridgeline seats five comfortably. The added width also gives you more interior volume. You can also fold up the rear seat cushions for additional cargo space but there is no flat floor due to the mounting point for the seat. As for the bed, it’s made out of composites and plastics, negating the need for a liner.

Powering the 2021 Honda Ridgeline is a 3.5-liter V6 with 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the same unit shared with the Pilot. Even the Ridgeline’s standard torque-vectoring AWD system is shared by the two vehicles. Unlike its competitors, the Ridgeline is FWD-based.

Where the Ridgeline distinguishes itself from traditional body-on-frame trucks is in road manners. It’s clearly the best in the ride and handling department, offering great maneuverability and agility thanks to its tidier dimensions, independent rear suspension, and unibody construction. Even with an empty bed, the Ridgeline’s driving experience doesn’t change, it always feels like a crossover with a bed. It’s quieter, too, making it a great daily driver.

When taken as a whole, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline checks a lot of boxes. You get most of the capabilities you expect out of a truck but without all the compromises. While its max towing capacity is limited to 5,000 pounds, its payload is nearly identical to its competitors. For the everyday consumer, the Ridgeline is all the truck you need and you get all the benefits of a crossover.

0 to 60 mph: 6.9 seconds
60 to 0: 130 feet
Handling: A+
Ride: A
Cabin Noise: A
Fuel Economy: A+

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