Hundreds of thousands of people buy pickups every year, and we would wager that a sizable percentage of them don’t really need one. They will never tow a boat, load the bed with rocks or drive off-road. That big old engine will mostly be used to dawdle around suburbia.
Well, the 2020 Honda Ridgeline is the truck for those who recognize their more realistic pickup needs. True, many don’t consider it a truck at all since it’s basically a 2020 Honda Pilot crossover with a truck bed. Its bed is also only available in one size, and it has less towing capacity and ground clearance than traditional midsize trucks do. And heck, front-wheel drive is standard.
But here’s the thing: That crossover architecture makes the Ridgeline the most civilized vehicle with a pickup bed to drive by a long shot. Its handling, maneuverability and comfort are off the charts — it feels like a crossover to drive, because it is one. Its interior comfort and quality are also exceptional, and its bed is awash with clever available features: a huge trunk compartment, a flip-down/swing-out tailgate and even an in-bed speaker system. You also get superior crash scores. Together, these features make the Ridgeline the most family-friendly pickup.
With its off-road capability and a towing capacity that rivals midsize pickups, the Ridgeline is a great option for people who want a pickup but don’t need the biggest, baddest truck available.
What’s New for 2020?
The Ridgeline is refreshed for 2020 with a new 9-speed automatic transmission and standard Honda Sensing driver assistance technology on every trim. Also newly standard is a Display Audio infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The RT and RTL-T trims have been dropped for 2020, which makes the Ridgeline Sport the new base trim. See the 2020 Honda Ridgeline models for sale near you
What We Like
- Has the comfort, space, interior quality and driving experience of a crossover
- Innovative bed storage and tailgate
- Fuel-efficient engine
- Excellent crash scores
What We Don’t
- Frustrating touchscreen
- Only one cab, bed and engine choice
- The 2-wheel-drive trucks are FWD
- Less towing capability than competitors
The Ridgeline has only one engine choice, a 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Uniquely, it comes standard with FWD (all other trucks are rear-wheel drive) and the option of all-wheel drive. A 9-speed automatic is standard.
Fuel economy is estimated at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving with AWD. FWD increases highway fuel economy to 26 mpg, resulting in 22 combined mpg.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Ridgeline is available in Sport, RTL, RTL-E and Black Edition trims. AWD is standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition trims and optional on the Sport and RTL models.
The Sport ($33,900 FWD, $36,140 AWD) comes standard with a flip-down swing-out tailgate, a locking under-bed trunk, an electronic tailgate lock, a Display Audio infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Honda Sensing, a 60/40-split lift-up rear seat with under-seat storage, two USB ports, proximity entry, push-button start, remote ignition, fog lights and tri-zone automatic climate control. Note that the optional AWD brings special off-road settings for handling sand and mud.
The RTL ($36,670 FWD, $38,820 AWD) adds a power moonroof, an acoustic windshield, heated mirrors (with AWD), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated power front seats (10-way driver, 4-way passenger), driver lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery and a power-sliding rear window.
The RTL-E ($42,020) comes standard with AWD plus a blind spot information system, a truck-bed audio system, 540-watt premium audio, navigation, a cross-traffic monitor, automatic LED headlights with automatic high-beams, front and rear parking sensors, a truck-bed power outlet, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 2-position memory driver’s seat, second-row USB ports and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The Black Edition ($43,520) is really just an RTL-E with blacked-out exterior trim and special interior trim. It also adds red ambient LED lighting.
Every 2020 Honda Ridgeline comes with 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and a backup camera. Plus, since it’s related to the Honda Pilot family hauler, it has LATCH anchors in all three back seating positions which are lower than those of regular midsize trucks. Every 2020 Ridgeline comes standard with Honda Sensing, which includes collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.
The government awarded the Ridgeline five stars for frontal, side and overall crash protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a Top Safety Pick award for best-possible performance in all pertinent categories. This is truly impressive among midsize trucks.
Behind the Wheel
The big question about the Ridgeline comes from conventional pickup-truck owners: Is the Ridgeline a "real" pickup truck? Well, its maximum payload of 1,584 pounds and its 5,000 pounds of towing capacity do trail those of traditional competitors, including the 2020 Toyota Tacoma and the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado. Its off-road capability is also just slightly better than a Honda Pilot’s, which, to be fair, isn’t bad for a family hauler.
So perhaps it isn’t a "real" truck, but then again, how much does that really matter? The Ridgeline ultimately excels in its all-around capability as an everyday vehicle and as a viable alternative to an SUV. You completely forget you’re driving something with a truck bed since its handling and ride quality are those of a crossover. There’s no vague steering, freaky tippy moments or wiggling-jiggling over bumps.
It also has a variety of outstanding features — especially those in the bed. Exclusive to the Ridgeline is the in-bed trunk, which boasts 7.3 cu ft. of space. The weather-sealed, lockable compartment solves the pickup conundrum of concealed, secure storage in a clever way (not to mention that it doubles as a cooler). The bed itself is made of highly damage-resistant composite material, and on top trim levels, the liner essentially transforms into a giant speaker that really works. We also dig the novel flip-down/swing-out tailgate.
Inside, you’ll find the same cabin design as Honda’s Pilot crossover SUV, including its clever center-console storage and generous back-seat space, which features child seat LATCH anchors in all positions. Add in the comfortable ride quality, and the Ridgeline is unquestionably the most family-friendly midsize truck.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Toyota Tacoma — If you want something more rugged and fun that can get seriously dirty off the beaten path, this is your truck. However, it’s less comfortable, spacious and refined than its competitors.
2020 Chevrolet Colorado — The Colorado is basically a miniature full-size truck that falls in between the Ridgeline and the Tacoma with regard to comfort and character.
Used Honda Ridgeline — The current-generation Ridgeline has been around since the 2017 model years, which means early examples are starting to become pretty affordable on the used market.
With new standard features for 2020, the base Ridgeline Sport is pretty much all you need, and it’s the best value in the truck’s lineup. If you like the idea of more luxury features, like leather seating, and cool tech unique to the Ridgeline, like a truck bed audio system, consider upgrading to the RTL-E. Find a Honda Ridgeline for sale