2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring Road Test Review

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring

No ifs, ands, or buttresses…this is one capable truck

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Uh…No buttresses?

Those familiar with the outgoing Ridgeline’s signature buttresses that connected the pickup’s bed to the cab will notice their absence this time around. That’s not necessarily a bad thing- this generation has a bed length that has been lengthened a useful 10 centimeters – but the distinctive styling is eschewed for something a little more ordinary. Think of a current Honda Pilot with a pickup bed grafted onto its second row of seats and you’re bang on (or perhaps a Japanese version of the El Camino, if you’re so inclined.) While we aren’t offended at all by the new model’s aesthetics, we do miss the styling cues of old that seemed to add a bit of ruggedness to a truck that’s been dogged for being too soft and a bit wishy washy.

 

Bro, that’s not a truck, bro!

Ahhhh, bro truck drivers. You know their type: parking on an angle and taking up more than one spot in their lifted Ford/Chevy/Dodge pickups with super aggressive mud tires. They have a preference for Ed Hardy t-shirts which allows them to show off their tribal tattoo circumventing their bicep. These are the types of folk who look down on the Ridgeline with it’s unibody chassis and components cribbed from the parts bins of mere cars. Be that as it may, the Ridgeline is infinitely more enjoyable to daily drive compared to their rigs in every measurable way, not to mention you won’t look like an asshat to your fellow motorists. Here’s the truth: The Ridgeline is the right amount of truck for the vast majority of people shopping the segment, who ultimately end up using their beefy pickups to run to the grocery store or help a friend move occasionally. Honda did extensive homework on the typical pickup truck buyer and found that a scant 10% of them actually tow more than 2268 kilograms, which makes the Ridgeline a much more sensible choice.

 

Is it too refined for truck duty though?

We mentioned before that the Ridgeline and Pilot are closely related, but that doesn’t mean the truck hasn’t been built with a nod towards toughness. Out goes the Pilot’s finicky 9-speed automatic in favour of a 6-speed gearbox that shifts smoothly and is a good matchup for Honda’s 3.5 litre V6. Making 280 horsepower and 262 pounds feet of torque, it’s among the most powerful in its class, with only the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon twins offer more suds in their identical V6 engines with 305 ponies. Despite this deficit, the Ridgeline is the class pole sitter, making short work of the 0-100km/h sprint in a way that its competitors should be envious of- it’s a smoothie, and even has a bit of that VTEC snarl as the tach makes it way towards the redline. The Ridgeline employs an independent suspension setup at each wheel which means it rides incredibly well for something with a pickup bed. Even when there’s no payload, the Honda traverses the gnarliest pavement without the shimmy or bump steer those driving pickups with live axles are accustomed to. Incidentally, the Ridgeline can lug around 269 kilos of your stuff in the bed which puts it right in line with its competitors (our AWD model is rated to tow 2,268 kilos which is slightly behind the class leaders). The other guys don’t offer a speaker system out back (very cool for those who like to host tailgate parties) as well as a plastic reservoir to hold chilled beverages or soggy bathing suits- there’s a handy drainplug that allows you to get rid of any water that accumulates with ease. Perhaps the greatest offshoot of building the Ridgeline on the Pilot platform is how quiet it is, whether you’re idling along in traffic or cruising the highways- couple that to a comfortable and roomy cockpit and you have a pickup that can almost be described as soothing.

 

What might go wrong?

In case it hasn’t become clear, we’re big fans of this truck and wonder why it isn’t on the shopping lists of more people, no matter what the price at the pump is. That being said, there are a few things we’d recommend to Honda that need fixing. We wish that the Ridgeline didn’t inherit the same brake feel as the Pilot- the pedal doesn’t deliver that much stopping power in the initial centimetres of travel, and after that it’s a bit like stepping on a ball of wet socks. It’s something we got used to quickly, but those who will use their Ridgeline for towing will probably wish for a braking system that inspires a bit more confidence. Our tester was the fully loaded Touring trim level which came with Honda’s sometimes frustrating touchscreen infotainment system. Our biggest gripe is the volume slider, and we’ve complained about this in the past despite the redundant rocker switch on the steering wheel. Folks coming from other trucks will miss the knobs for most controls that could be operated with gloves on- they’ll have to hone their on-road dexterity to make use of the Ridgeline’s controls. We touched on it earlier, but the styling is going to be a turn-off for some- it just doesn’t look butchy enough. Yes, we know that the designer’s pen has zero effect on the basic functionality of the Ridgeline, but we’d like to see some attitude introduced into the styling.

 

Should I buy a Honda Ridgeline?

According to Honda’s exhaustive research into the habits of the vast majority of pickup owners, yes, you certainly should. While there will always be a place in this world for large and heavy duty pickup models, the fact is that most owners of these brutes barely scratch the surface of what their trucks are capable of. Whether they admit it or not, pickup truck drivers at some point have wished their daily drivers offered more comfort once they leave the jobsite. If that describes you, perhaps you should pay a visit to a Honda dealership to see what we’re on about.

 

 

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $48,988
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger pickup truck
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine:  3.5-litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower: 280 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 262 @ 4,700 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Curb weight:  2,006 kg (4,423 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 12.8/100km (18 mpg)