We recently had the opportunity to try out the all new 2017 Honda Ridgeline. The “untruck” truck that pulls off getting things done in the most comfortable way possible. This isn’t your typical body on a truck frame that is meant only for being a workhorse. Honda has put together a vehicle that looks like a mix between a car, a truck, and an SUV. You know what? It works!
Honda is not trying to compete with the other trucks in its segment, they are trying to be that solution for the everyday person who wants refinement with a comfortable ride but needs the utility of a truck bed. One of the reasons why owners are infatuated with Honda as a brand is because of their ergonomics, their practicality, and their creativity and usability that they bring to certain vehicles like the Odyssey, the Fit, and now the Ridgeline.
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline has a tailgate that opens traditionally down, but it also opens to the side as well! This leads to so many possibilities for this vehicle. It was a huge help on our recent family trip when we were loading and unloading. The biggest hidden feature that we loved about the trucks is that it has an in-bed trunk that is completely sealed. You read that right, this is a truck with a trunk. It’s perfect for keeping all your possessions such as luggage for a trip.
The lockable trunk is large and easily accessible, especially because the Ridgeline’s tailgate can either open down or from the side – handy when loading and unloading. We made sure to take advantage of the extra storage space under the rear seats as well. The seats can also be folded up if you don’t have back seat passengers, for groceries or for even a full-size bike. There is lots of storage space in this truck.
You expect a truck to be cumbersome to drive but the Ridgeline flips that ideology upside down and in reality, you feel like you are in a luxury SUV. That is mostly in part to the fact that the Ridgeline borrows most of the same interior and technology from the Honda Pilot. The Ridgeline doesn’t only look like the Pilot but it also feels like one too. The materials, controls, and cabin noise all match expectations to a modern SUV and not a rugged and raw pick-up truck.
Part of that refinement comes way of a fully independent suspension that absorbs road imperfections with ease. This is unlike traditional trucks with their live rear axils and their old time body on frame construction. If you care about car handling and need an open space in the back to carry your stuff, this is your truck.
The Ridgeline goes out of its way to make things easy. For one, it’s no slouch for power. All Ridgelines come with a 280-horsepower, 3.5-litre V-6 engine teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission providing agreeable shifts and ample acceleration. Front-wheel drive is standard, but before you write that off as a negative, the Honda’s All Wheel Drive system provides the added traction needed in all situations. Dedicated Snow, Mud, and Sand modes adjust the throttle, transmission, and torque distribution accordingly.
If you care about car handling and need an open space in the back to carry your stuff, this is your truck. The Ridgeline goes out of its way to make things easy. For one, it’s no slouch for power. All Ridgelines come with a 280-horsepower, 3.5-litre V-6 engine teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission providing agreeable shifts and ample acceleration. Front-wheel drive is standard, but before you write that off as a negative, the Honda’s All-Wheel Drive system provides the added traction needed in all situations. Dedicated Snow, Mud, and Sand modes adjust the throttle, transmission, and torque distribution accordingly.
The All-Wheel Drive system also boasts a technology that is our new favourite answer to the question about why the Ridgeline rides so nicely – Dynamic Torque Vectoring. The rear differential can send up to 70 percent of the 280 horsepower V-6 engine’s 262 pounds-feet of torque to the rear depending on the traction needs. That power can be further split from zero to 100 percent left or right between the rear tires using this computer-controlled system for improved cornering. This gives the Ridgeline a big traction advantage over conventional 4x4s with open or limited-slip differentials. We had no issues heading up the roads on the way to the local ski mountain, and no problems with the truck driving through snow.
The Ridgeline also has a push-button start, power back window, and driver’s seat memory settings. Which really comes in handy when we both are stubborn about our driving seat position – we are constantly changing the settings on each other in our own vehicle. Any other couples that can’t agree on seat and mirror position? Not an issue thanks to the seat memory settings in this truck.
One nifty feature reserved for the priciest Ridgeline trim, Black Edition, is an in-bed audio system so everyone in the home improvement store parking lot will know what your favourite music of choice is, despite how embarrassing it may be – thanks for blasting N’Sync Christmas songs Tamara! Perfect for a tailgate party, you can jam to your favourite tunes and fill the trunk with ice and drinks. Or if your town has a drive-in movie theatre you can toss blankets and pillows into the truck bed and turn the sound on over the in-bed audio system.
We learned to appreciate the Ridgeline’s safety features. When cars got too close, the Ridgeline’s Blind Spot Information (BSI) system lets you know with a flashing indicator. At first, this feature seemed more annoying than useful, but we grew accustomed to it and missed it once we went back to driving our own vehicle without BSI.
On the other hand, the Lane Departure Warning seemed either over aggressive or none responsive. When we strayed even close to the line, the steering wheel would jiggle, which was more irritating than helpful. And at other times when we wanted to test the system, it didn’t react at all. It seems to need some fine tuning to get it just right for next years Ridgeline.
One of the differences noted with a pickup truck is always the fuel consumption. The Ridgleline’s gas efficiency is marketed as “best in class” at 11.3 litres/100 km, and through our week of testing, we found that to be fairly accurate. There is also a green Econ driving mode that assists in making better choices for your heavy right foot. It was nice to see the available power found but also the decent fuel efficiency with such a utility vehicle.
Although we loved the Ridgeline overall, we do have a few suggestions that we would love to see addressed in the future by Honda to make it an even better vehicle in the years to come. If Honda does improve the following things we just might be sold on getting ourselves in the future.
Honda’s infotainment system has improved in 2017 with Apple Car Play and Android Auto added and working flawlessly but overall we still feel the system is sluggish and uninventive. The 8″ touchscreen is a nice size but it attracts fingerprints like a magnet. Plus we are not fans of an absent volume knob. We prefer beeing able to use a knob to control the volume quickly, as a parent this is a must in a vehicle. You have to get used to using the volume adjustment on the steering wheel as using the touch screen to change volume was too tedious. The Ridgeline was nowhere near our favorite infotainment system we have used and reviewed to date.
Another thing that we would love to see changed is how far the rear doors open. On our current vehicle (a Honda CRV) the rear doors open to near 90 degrees. It wasn’t until testing the Ridgeline that we realized how much this is needed for getting kids, their car seats, and even yourself in and out with ease. The back doors do not open very wide at all, and in some situations, it made getting our youngest daughter out of her car seat a challenge. Car seat instillation itself was even tricky, but we did it! We did get two car seats into the Ridgeline.
In the end, the Honda Ridgeline successfully pulled off the perfect combination of luxury family car with the rugged good looks and versatile storage capacity of a pickup truck. For anyone who occasionally or regularly needs the utility of a pickup truck to haul things like bikes or drywall or furniture – the Ridgeline will get the job done while providing a smooth and fuel efficient ride.