The 2017 Honda Ridgeline. I wanted to hate it, but then I drove it… and now I just want it.
I hear people say that the new Honda Ridgeline isn’t a real truck. Before I drove it, I would have agreed. Now I’d say, define ‘truck’.
Because here’s the bottom line: If you need to haul heavy equipment, the new Ridgeline is not your best choice… and everyone with an ounce of sense already knows that. But – if you’re with your buddies hauling mountain bikes to the trailhead everyday, or kayaks to the water (or anything similar), I’m pretty convinced after living with the Ridgeline for 10 days, that it is not only a good choice… but the best choice out there in Truckland. Here’s why:
Comfort: Don’t underestimate this truck’s comfort level. See, the common idiot’s argument that the Ridgeline is ‘not a real truck’… is ironically one of its greatest advantages as a truck. It’s a unibody chassis design, not a body-on-frame like other trucks on the market. Which means it has good road manners, it’s easy to maneuver, and it’s responsive & light-footed (in truck terms). You sit in it, not on it. The seats are cross-country comfortable, the cabin is spacious, and amazingly quiet. You could commute this truck all day everyday, for work AND for play, and not feel like a rhino amongst race horses. People say it’s a Honda Pilot with the back cut off – not true. It’s a strengthened chassis, purposely & uniquely designed to be a Ridgeline, with a ‘fair’ 5,000lb tow capacity.
Tailgate: The tailgate opens downward like every other truck on the planet, but it also has a separate latch to open sideways… making it a breeze to get stuff out of the bed without having to reach over the very tailgate you just opened, or climb up into the bed. You won’t know how great this feature is, until you spend time using it.
Cargo: There is a 7.3 cu. ft. storage compartment within the bed of the Ridgeline. This compartment is protected from the weather. It locks with the doors when you lock the truck. It is waterproof, and it has a drain plug. You can fill it with ice & use it as a giant cooler. You can fill it with groceries, or strollers. Sandy wet life vests & beach mats. Sweaty/filthy bike gear. Things that would blow away in the back of any other truck, are safe & secure in the Ridgeline. You’ve gotta add a ‘toolbox’ for that in other trucks… and that takes up bed space. And you damn sure can’t reach it from the tailgate.
The Bed: The new Ridgeline’s bed will hold over 1,500lbs. It is made out of a composite plastic, so you practically have to take a saw to it in order to scratch it. And if you do ever manage to scratch/gouge it, the blemishes will be the same color as the rest of the bed, making it all-but disappear. It won’t dent, it won’t rust when it is scratched. The Ridgeline’s bed has an outlet that will power anything from job-site tools, to a big screen TV. And it has hidden speakers for tailgating, hanging out, etc.
All Wheel Drive: This Ridgeline has the optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, and I would highly HIGHLY recommend you check that box at the dealer. Hard-headed ‘truck guys’ & country songs alike, think because a truck says 4X4 OFF ROAD on the side, that nothing can stop it. But the fact of the matter is: a full-size 4-wheel-drive truck is only 2-wheel-drive… until you put it into 4WD. The Ridgeline is all-wheel-drive ALL of the time. Not only is that a safety feature for you & your family when you come across unforeseen changes in road conditions (oil, water, gravel, ice, snow). It also gives the Ridgeline more speedy, on-the-fly capability across different & changing terrains. For you car guys out there, think of it as a Honda truck with some WRX DNA. And yeah – you can hear vtec kick in.
Honda always stood out as the clever & committed car company that could do more with less. And it’s exciting to see them back at it with their innovative bag of tricks. Think of truck ownership as a 1-10 scale. On one end of the spectrum (#1) is terrible gas mileage & a virtual tugboat for a vehicle. And on the other end of the spectrum (#10) is the ability to tow the space shuttle & pull redwoods out of the ground. The new Honda Ridgeline just cuts the fatty extremes off both ends of the spectrum, and hits the sweet spot with a real-world #3-8 truck you can live with, use, depend on, and love.