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Gorehamj

2017 Honda Ridgeline Review - This Truck Makes You Think Crazy

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John Goreham
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
10-12-2016

The Honda Ridgeline will never be enough truck for many fans of full-size pickups, HD pickups, or those that think a truck has to be built in a certain way, or look a certain way. Honda knows that. However, there are midsize truck buyers who are willing to consider a truck that can do many things better than the competition because of its differences. Whichever camp you fall into, we think that you might like to hear what we found when we drove the 2017 Ridgeline.

 

Before we go too far, let’s get one thing out of the way. The 2017 Ridgeline AWD RTL-E we tested is the best-driving truck we have ever been in. By that, we mean when you turn it, accelerate, brake, or cruise, it is sharper, stronger, better performing, and more comfortable than midsize trucks we have driven like the Colorado and Tacoma. It blows full-size trucks out of the water. It isn’t even close. (In fairness to the Ford Raptor, I have never driven that truck).

 

The first thing you notice is the chassis rigidity and body dynamics. The Ridgeline’s most obvious characteristic is the lack of any flex, squat, or dive. I was in a Tacoma TRD Off-Road just two weeks ago, and that truck is the polar opposite of this Ridgeline on any road. In the woods, that Tacoma would be everyone’s choice. On the road, the Ridgeline should be.

The next thing that is apparent is the comfort of the cabin. The Ridgeline has the most comfortable cabin by a wide margin among its peers.

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The seat is outstanding, and isn’t too low, like in the Tacoma line. Ergonomics are good, but we did have some minor gripes with the infotainment controls. It’s still a mystery to us why automakers take away the volume and tuner knobs.

 

The Ridgeline handles so well it defies easy comparison. I have spent a week in the new Pilot and this vehicle handles better and is just as comfortable. There is nothing sedan-like about the Ridgeline so that comparison makes no real sense. The turn-in is the hardest sensation to describe. Let’s just say you’d love it.

 

The engine will feel familiar to anyone with an Acura or Honda V6. Powerful, quiet and perfectly matched to its transmission. 280 hp is plenty for this vehicle, and it pulls from low RPMs. Floor it and it leaps forward and snaps off five, smooth, fast shifts you barely feel, but can sense, on its way up to sixth gear. Having tested many vehicles now with seven, eight, or nine gears what is becoming apparent is that too many gears means that the vehicle hunts for the most fuel efficient (weakest possible) gear and lugs the engine in normal driving. The Ridgeline never does.

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So, it being a Honda, its usefulness is not on par with the GMC, Chevy, or Toyota trucks, right? No. In fact, the Ridgeline is 50 inches wide in the cargo bed between the wheel wells. Honda says that is the best in class, and we will take their word for it. What we do know is that 50-inches is more than 48, which is the width of Sheetrock and plywood. So you don’t have to tip that stuff sideways when you haul it. The locking tailgate can drop or swing to the right. It is hard to find that anything but a bonus. Under the cargo bed is a lockable trunk large enough for a full-size beer cooler or a golf bag. Or skip the cooler and just fill the truck with ice and frosties. When you’re done tailgating, pull the drain plug.

 

Inside the cabin, the Ridgeline has the most cargo area in its class under the rear seat, and the most when that seat is folded up. Honda uses the example of a mountain bike. With the Ridgeline, the bike can go in whole. With the competitors, the front wheel has to come off.

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The 18-inch, 60-series tires that Honda picked make a huge difference in this truck’s ride and handling. Honda chose Firestone Destination AT rubber. No all-weather tire has ever felt better in the snow to us.

 

The Honda Ridgeline we tested had Honda Sensing. If you are not familiar with the technology it includes auto-braking (which every vehicle will soon have), adaptive cruise control, and lane centering. On long highway slogs, the system reduces fatigue, and my personal ass was saved by the same auto-braking system in an Acura about 18 months back. That makes you a quick convert.

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Honda makes it no secret that the chassis started as a Pilot chassis. However, 50% of the parts are unique, and Honda built upon a great foundation. One thing that we spotted doing our research is that the Ridgeline’s final assembly point is in Lincoln Alabama. Honda uses a U.S.-made engine, and U.S.-made transmission in the Ridgeline and the total content is 75% U.S./Canadian sourced. Thumbs up.

 

The Ridgeline series is not everything to all truck owners. GM and Toyota do a much better job at that, and Honda hasn’t tried to top the Canyon Duramax or Tacoma TRD Pro. However, what the Ridgeline does well it does so much better than its peers, it makes you start thinking crazy things like this Honda might just be the best midsize truck for many people.

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Vehicle: 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD RTL-E

Notable standard features of this trim:
- AWD and Towing Package
- Honda Sensing
- Heated, Power Leather Front Seats
- Nav
- Sunroof
- Heated Steering Wheel
- CarPlay & Android Auto
- LED Headlights with Auto High Beams
- Steel-Reinforced Composite Cargo Bed
- Remote Start and Smart Key

Price $42,270 Including Destination and Delivery

EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy – 21 MPG Combined, 18 City, 25 Highway (Regular Unleaded)

 

Images of Ridgeline in Blue by John Goreham. Other images courtesy of Honda.

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eh. It's still a Honda and it's still Ugly. But nice article.

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I can see how it would appeal to some people but someone who is going to buy a 42k truck isn't gonna buy a ridgeline IMO. Still looks like a minivan in the front.

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Great review, thanks!

That price is too high - and it's a Honda seems to be the only things I don't like about that truck.

 

Personally, I wish GM would bring back the S-10! 'Nuff said.

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There is a Honda dealership across from the GMC - Hyundai dealership I deal with. I own GMs and Hyundais, I looked briefly at the new ridgeline and when I get ready to trade my mid sized SUV I will test drive the Honda. Can't beat the reliability, and the price is comparable. Ad to that all the reviews put it at the top.

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That 3.5 feels great because it's underrated. The 6MT accords put down close to 260. The TLX with the 9 speed does even better.

 

 

You know, if you gave a Malibu Maxx a bed.....they would look pretty similar.

Edited by SnakeEyes

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"Best in class", because it's the only one in that class...

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

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The baby Duramax pulls down 30 mpg pretty easily. I swung by the local GM dealer yesterday and most of the half tons were marked down to the 30's. My girlfriend liked the small pickups, but said "unless the prices drop a lot used, why not buy a real pickup?" Why not, really?

 

I don't doubt that the Ridgeline fits many people's needs best, but money talks. A cheaper half ton with twice the capability is a no brainer. I bet you can at least reach into the Honda's bed though.

 

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The cup holder / shifter placement is awful.

 

 

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If you want a truck buy a truck, not a mini van with a bed....A truck needs a frame under it, this is not a truck....

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I have no doubt this serves the needs for some people who don't need a truck...sort of like the Explorer Sport Trac or Subaru Brat from a few years back, it's nothing new. It's meant for the person that needs a few bags of mulch in the spring, a couple bags of salt in winter.

 

What I find extremely funny is the person that buys this thing and tries to convince the rest of us that it will perform as well as a 1500, or in my case a 2500hd. My neighbor tries hard to show off his "truck" when hauling firewood (we both burn a couple cords a year). A Subaru Brat, dragging its bumper, heaped with firewood...

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

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A 1500 ain't much of a truck either. It's easy to max it out if you're a serious DIY guy. If I had the $$ there'd be a 2500 HD in my garage.

 

 

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My friend bought one and the in-bed audio is pretty cool. Not a bad ride either. Doesn't make me want one, but still.

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I can’t speak for the current model, but my previous generation one Ridgeline was a great vehicle. I even looked into buying a second generation, but the price and build quality issues put me off. They are a decent vehicle, and although I no longer own one, I won’t ever criticize someone who decides to. 

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