2014 Honda Ridgeline: New Car Review
The Honda Ridgeline was launched for the 2006 model year, and it hasn't changed much since. In fact, aside from an update in 2012 and some minor revisions here and there, the 2014 Honda Ridgeline is as it was when it first went on sale.
That means it has a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, four doors and a unibody chassis based on Honda's midsize Pilot SUV. Of course, there are a few differences under the skin. Most notably, the Ridgeline has 4-wheel independent suspension and a secondary ladder frame, both for added toughness.
Because the Ridgeline hasn't changed much, sales aren't what they used to be. For that reason, Honda says the Ridgeline won't stick around after the 2014 model year, though Honda assures us the model will eventually make a return. With cancellation coming, be sure to negotiate a good deal if you're buying a new Ridgeline.
What's New for 2014?
For 2014, the Ridgeline gains a new Special Edition trim level. Otherwise, the truck is unchanged.
What We Like
Innovative chassis and suspension design; large passenger space
What We Don't
Poor fuel economy; only one body style; spare tire is inaccessible when bed is full
Like the Pilot, the Ridgeline offers just one engine: a 3.5-liter V6 with 250 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed automatic is the sole transmission, while all-wheel drive is the sole drivetrain. Fuel economy is rated at 15 miles per gallon city/21 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Honda Ridgeline is offered in five trim levels. There's the base-level RT, the mid-level Sport and RTS, the top-end RTL and the new-for-2014 high-end Ridgeline Special Edition.
Choose the RT ($30,500) and you get a lot of standard equipment. In addition to the V6, the 5-speed automatic and 4-wheel drive, standard features include keyless entry, a split-folding rear seat, a rearview camera, side-curtain airbags, air conditioning and Honda's In-Bed Trunk feature for keeping items away from the elements.
Next up is the Sport ($31,700), which adds mostly appearance options: 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a black mesh grille, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and privacy glass. Ridgeline Sport models also have an auxiliary jack for audio input.
Step up to the RTS ($33,300) and you get 17-in alloys for a smoother ride, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat and a 7-speaker audio system with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer.
Next up is the RTL ($36,200), which adds a power sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated mirrors and satellite radio.
Topping the lineup is the Ridgeline Special Edition ($38,500), which combines the high-end equipment from the Ridgeline RTL with the sporty appearance of the Ridgeline Sport. That means a sunroof and leather plus 18-in alloys, a mesh grille and other stylish add-ons.
As with most Honda models, the Ridgeline is available with few options. Drivers who choose the upscale RTL model can add a navigation system and Bluetooth to their trucks, but that's about it.
All 2014 Honda Ridgeline models have multiple standard airbags and restraint systems, including driver and front-passenger airbags, front-side airbags with a passenger-side occupant position detection system, 2-row side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor and front-seat active head restraints. A tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights further contribute to safety. The Ridgeline also includes Honda's electronic stability control, which applies braking to a wheel suffering from limited traction and sends power to another wheel with more traction.
The Ridgeline has not yet been rated in the overall National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests that went into effect for the 2011 model year. However, NHTSA tested the Ridgeline in one category: rollover assessment. It received four stars.
Behind the Wheel
The Ridgeline is in a class of its own due to its design but also because of the way it drives. Unlike more traditional pickups, the Ridgeline has a mostly front-wheel-drive setup. The Ridgeline's power delivery is strong and smooth, although the 5-speed transmission hampers performance at highway speeds.
Aside from the unusual feeling of driving a pickup truck with front-wheel-drive-style torque steer, the Ridgeline is quite refined. The driver and passenger seats are comfortable, steering is light and responsive and braking is sharp. For someone looking for the utility of a truck without feeling like you're driving one, the Ridgeline is perfect. It may be disappointing, though, to those who prefer a true truck experience.
Other Cars to Consider
Chevrolet Avalanche-- The Avalanche is the closest competitor to the Ridgeline stylistically. The base Avalanche is rear-wheel drive only and features a 5.3-liter V8 producing 320 hp. Despite having 70 more horsepower than the Ridgeline, the Avalanche has similar Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings. Note that the Avalanche is no longer offered for 2014, though many new 2013 models will remain at dealers for some time.
Nissan Frontier-- The Frontier is sized like a Ridgeline, though its relatively simple construction means pricing is more affordable. Fitted with a 4.0-liter V6 producing 261 hp, the Frontier has more towing and payload capacity than the Ridgeline.
Toyota Tacoma -- Like the Frontier, the Tacoma is priced lower than the Ridgeline. The double-cab, 4-wheel-drive Tacoma has a 4.0-liter V6 producing 236 hp coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The tough-as-nails Tacoma is a great Ridgeline rival for shoppers looking to save some money.
Aside from available navigation, the Ridgeline doesn't change much as customers ascend the model range. We recommend buyers stick to the base RT model. It comes well equipped, and shoppers with utility in mind get much of what makes the Ridgeline great at an attractive price.