Honda Takes on Toyota and Subaru with Its 2017 Ridgeline
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is a bit like a Subaru Outback with a truck bed. Like the classic Subie, it drives like a car but still has plenty of off-road features, such as multiple terrain modes in the 4WD system and nearly eight inches of ground clearance, as well as auto hill-holding when you’re rock crawling. It looks more like a normal pickup than the original Ridgeline (which Honda discontinued in 2014). Honda wants to be a challenger in the midsize truck market currently dominated by Toyota, Nissan, and Chevy. We recently drove the new truck in Texas. Here are our initial thoughts on how it stacks up against the competition.
Most trucks are built body-on-frame: a box sits on top of a rectangle attached to the four wheels, like your kid’s Radio Flyer wagon. The Ridgeline, on the other hand, features unibody construction: there’s no frame, and the chassis is made from a single piece of material, like the construction you’d find in a passenger car. As a result, the Ridgeline steers, corners, and rolls over dirt more like a regular car and far more smoothly than a Tacoma or Colorado.
The new Ridgeline retains the in-bed trunk of the original. It auto-locks when you lock the cabin doors. The trunk also acts as a built-in 82-quart cooler with its own drain plug. Other bed options include a 400-watt power outlet and a six-speaker audio system that runs off the car’s stock audio head unit.
The Ridgeline’s tailgate opens two different ways. Fold it down like a normal gate, or swing it open like a car door.
With the rear seats folded down, the Ridgeline easily accommodates two mountain bikes with the front wheels removed. The back row is a squeeze (a 6’2” tester couldn’t comfortably sit behind the driver), but this space is still roomier than that in the Tacoma or Colorado.
The 4WD Ridgeline has three off-road modes to handle snow, sand, or mud. We didn’t get to test the truck in snow, but it plowed right through sand, mud, and knee-deep water.
The 4WD Honda Ridgeline bed can haul 1,580 pounds—on par with the Colorado and Tacoma. Special towing packages increase the capacity of the Colorado diesel to 7,700 pounds and the Tacoma to 6,700 pounds. The 4WD Ridgeline maxes out at 5,000 pounds of towing. During my test, the truck didn’t blink while hauling 5,000 pounds of ATVs, but that was at sea level in Texas, not at 8,000 feet crawling over a Rocky Mountain pass.
The cockpit in the Ridgeline feels like it belongs in a car, not a truck. The touchscreen you see here goes away in the base model, but even then, the cabin is sharper than what Toyota or Chevy offer in their introductory models.
From the front, the Ridgeline could be mistaken for a crossover like the Pilot. If you like your truck to look like a truck from all angles, this might be a hard sell.
Fuel economy is respectable: 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, which is better than the Tacoma but not as good as the Colorado, with its diesel option.
The entry Ridgeline 2WD starts at s $29,475, the 4WD goes up from $31,275. You’ll spend $37,730 to get the 4WD RT-L with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. And you won’t get truck bed speakers unless you plop down $41,370 for the RTL-E version.