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2017 Honda Ridgeline: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2016

Honda is a company that takes its time. While other automakers rush in to a new segment, Honda sits back, looks at what the competition has to offer and comes up with a vehicle like the 2017 Honda Ridgeline to fill a gap in the marketplace.

In the U.S., pickup trucks have been getting bigger and more rugged with each passing generation. The compact-truck market all but evaporated as the Toyota Tacoma, the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon and the Nissan Frontier grew to the size of older full-size trucks -- a 2017 Tacoma is just an inch shorter in overall length than a 1985 Ford F-150 regular cab with an 8-foot box. The old Ford Ranger, the last compact holdout, is gone. The only trucks left are big, tough, body-on-frame vehicles.

The Ridgeline dices and slices the pickup-truck formula, mixing in some SUV advantages with truck virtues. The first generation (2006-2014) was endowed with quirky styling, surprising capability and competitive utility. Shunning the 3-box silhouette of a traditional pickup, the Ridgeline featured a box-to-cab connection that was more architectural than automotive, resembling a pair of flying buttresses. Rejected by many as not being a "real truck," the Ridgeline nonetheless inspired a loyal following. Honda's challenge with the redesigned truck, returning to the lineup after a 2-year hiatus, is to retain the loyal following while building a truck that can attract more of the traditional truck market.

What's New for 2017?

The Ridgeline rides on a platform that is all new for the midsize truck. Plugged in to this new platform is a new 3.5-liter V6 with a new 6-speed automatic transmission, available all-wheel drive, tri-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a power-sliding rear window and LED exterior lighting. An available truck-bed audio system is the crown jewel of the new options and may be a purchase motivator for devoted tailgaters and campers.

What We Like

New, less polarizing exterior design; robust off-road ability with all-wheel drive; zesty new engine and transmission; sophisticated available safety systems

What We Don't

Only one cab and bed length available; just one engine/transmission combination; 2-wheel-drive trucks are front-wheel-drive, not rear-wheel-drive like the competitors

How Much?

$29,475-$42,870

Fuel Economy

An all-new (for the Ridgeline) 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 gasoline engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission powers each Ridgeline. Front-wheel-drive versions are rated to achieve 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive models receive estimates of 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The RT ($29,475) is the base Ridgeline. It comes with standard front-wheel drive, a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission, a drive-by-wire throttle system, a high-capacity radiator with two high-power fans, electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, front and rear stabilizer bars, 18-in silver-painted alloy wheels, all-season tires, eight heavy-duty truck-bed tie-down cleats, LED taillights, an integrated trailer hitch, wiring for a 7-pin connector (connector included with optional all-wheel drive), truck-bed lights, a dual-action tailgate, a locking under-bed trunk, push-button starting, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a capless fuel-filler with remote door release, Bluetooth, an MP3/auxiliary audio jack, a 1.0-amp charging USB port, a 200-watt audio system with seven speakers (including a subwoofer), a 5-in color LCD screen and a 4.2-in multi-information display.

The RTS ($31,515) adds remote engine starting, 18-in machine-finished alloy wheels, smart entry, body-colored power side mirrors, driver and passenger seatback pockets, tri-zone automatic climate control, fog lamps and an exterior temperature indicator.

The Sport ($33,015) adds 18-in gray-painted alloy wheels, Sport badging, black-painted exterior trim and Crystal Black Pearl paint.

The RTL ($33,780) brings 18-in machine-finished alloy wheels, leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, a 10-way power front seat and an acoustic windshield.

The RTL-T ($35,930) features 18-in exclusive machine-finished alloy wheels, programmable remote entry, a 1.5-amp front charging USB port, a 2.5-amp second-row USB charging port, a 225-watt audio system, an 8-in color touchscreen display, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HondaLink, SMS text functionality, SiriusXM, HD Radio, Pandora and Honda LaneWatch.

The RTL-E ($41,370) comes with standard all-wheel drive, the full suite of Honda Sensing safety systems, Honda's Blind Spot Information System, automatic high beams, LED headlights with auto-on/off, a 1-touch power moonroof with tilt capability, a power-sliding rear window, LED truck-bed lights, chrome door handles, heated side mirrors with memory, body-colored parking sensors, a truck-bed power outlet, LED map lights, a 540-watt premium audio system with 8 speakers (including a subwoofer) and a truck-bed audio system.

The Black Edition ($42,870) brings 18-in exclusive black-painted alloy wheels, Black Edition exterior trim and red ambient LED lighting.

All-wheel drive is available ($1,800) on all trims and comes standard on RTL-E and Black Edition models.

Safety

Standard safety features on all models include vehicle stability control with traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, a tire-pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, an ACE body structure, six airbags, 3-point seat belts at all seating positions, a LATCH system on outboard rear seats and childproof rear door locks.

Optional safety includes the Honda Sensing suite (which brings collision mitigation, road-departure mitigation, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control), Honda's Blind Spot Information System, automatic high beams and Honda LaneWatch.

Behind the Wheel

The big question that stalks the Ridgeline comes from conventional pickup-truck owners: Is the Ridgeline a "real" pickup truck? If you measure pickup trucks by their capability and consider the other midsize pickups to be "real" trucks, you have to conclude that the Ridgeline also qualifies. With a maximum payload of 1,584 pounds and 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, Honda's truck can genuinely do work. But where the Ridgeline really excels is in all-around capability as an everyday driver and as a viable alternative to an SUV.

The killer feature, an exclusive to the Ridgeline in this segment, is the in-bed trunk with 7.3 cu ft. of space. The weather-sealed, lockable compartment solves the pickup conundrum of concealed, secure storage in a clever way. An additional 2.9-cu-ft. concealed compartment beneath the second row of seats further enhances the Ridgeline's utility. The roomy cabin comfortably seats five, and a nice array of available equipment makes the pickup truck into a viable family hauler.

Driving the Ridgeline, you'll forget that you're in a pickup truck. A 4-wheel independent suspension delivers an excellent ride, and available torque vectoring makes cornering performance noticeably sharp. If you want to take your family beyond the pavement, available all-wheel drive and decent ground clearance can extend your horizons considerably. Honda will be happy to sell you a genuine Honda Accessories tent to turn the Ridgeline's bed into a cozy home for the night, and you can listen to your tunes via the innovative truck-bed audio system. It uses six exciters to turn the actual composite bed panels into sound-radiating speakers, a system that is not only cool but also weather-proof. While the competition spends time dumping sharp objects into their respective beds and comparing the damage, Honda has developed an all-new man-made composite material for the bed that is highly resilient to damage. Of course, a heavy, sharp-cornered item can ding just about any truck bed, so use common sense.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Toyota Tacoma -- Toyota revised its truck for 2017, and it's available in a variety of configurations. TRD versions excel at off-roading, if that's your focus.

2017 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon -- General Motors beefed up its midsize offerings and took a big leap in quality and capability in the process.

2017 Nissan Frontier -- The old-timer on the block, the Frontier still has a lot to offer and shouldn't be overlooked.

Autotrader's Advice

If you don't care what your Super Duty-driving neighbor thinks of your choice of pickup truck, and you don't need the highest tow rating on the block, you may be able to have a more pleasant day-to-day relationship with a 2017 Honda Ridgeline than with any other pickup truck. Don't listen to those who would dismiss it as "a Pilot with a bed," because the Ridgeline is more than that. The sweet spot in the lineup is the well-equipped RTL-T in the middle of the range, but stepping up to the loaded RTL-E model brings the full suite of Honda Sensing features and the cool, showy trunk-bed audio system, along with standard all-wheel drive -- a collection of features that could prove irresistible.

Find a Nissan Frontier for sale

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Used 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD RTL-T
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Used 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL
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Used 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL
Used 2017 Honda Ridgeline
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Honda Ridgeline: New Car Review - Autotrader