CRITICS' CORNER

2017 Honda Ridgeline: A crossover with a nifty bed

After a two-model-year gap, the Ridgeline returns to the Honda lineup, rebuilt from the wheels up. It's still based on the front-wheel-drive Honda Pilot, which is a derivative of the Honda Odyssey minivan. Still, the unibody truck is brimming with innovations and offers what some reporters believe is the best ride in its class. Here are some early impressions:

"Every Ridgeline has the same engine: an aluminum 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower at 6000 RPM and 262 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 RPM. To give you some context, a Tacoma makes peak power at about 4,200 RPM. That means you really have to squeeze the Honda to make it sing, which is typical of the company but not a great characteristic for a utility vehicle that needs low-speed grunt.

That said, we tried pulling 4,000 pounds worth of trailer and the Ridgeline felt pretty much just as calm and compliant as it did empty. The same could be said with a 400 pound ATV in the bed." -- Jalopnik

"The Honda's steering isn't communicative on twisty roads, and we found ourselves making constant corrections in highway-speed sweeping curves. When pulling a load or driving off road, though, it feels just right. All-wheel-drive Ridgelines get a fancy torque-vectoring rear differential that can overdrive the inner or outer wheel to reduce understeer or help keep the vehicle's nose pointed in the right direction when traction is reduced. It works surprisingly well. We were able to keep our foot planted firmly to the floor on slippery grass fields in quick right-to-left transitions where the Colorado and Tacoma understeered heavily and ultimately floundered until we slowed the heck down." -- AutoBlog

"The Ridgeline accelerated comfortably in the Texas highways and hills, pulling smoothly and holding its own in traffic. The V6 and all-wheel-drive system proved capable in light off-roading that including driving through deep, soft sand up a steep dirt incline. The Ridgeline’s towing capacity of 5,000 pounds trails other V6 midsize pickups.

Ridgeline prices start at $29,475 for FWD and $31,275 for AWD. The top model, a new trim level simply called Black, stickers at $42,870 and comes with AWD, navigation, leather upholstery and much more." -- Detroit Free Press

"True to its unibody underpinnings, the Ridgeline rides and handles better than the Tacoma or Colorado. New for 2017 are Amplitude Reactive Dampers as seen on the Honda Pilot, with which the Ridgeline shares a basic platform. Driven back to back, the body-on-frame trucks seem to create bumps on roads where none existed in the Ridgeline. They’re harsher and noisier in the cabin, too.

Honda quickened the steering ratio, and it inspires confidence even in novice pickup drivers simply because it feels less vague than rivals. In fact, the whole driving experience will feel extremely familiar if you’re coming from a modern crossover. The Ridgeline may look more like a truck now, but it doesn’t drive like one.

The pickup bed is 4 inches longer than before, while overall length is up 3 inches. Convenience and utility features are everywhere, from the tailgate that can swing to the side and fold down, to the lockable in-bed trunk that’s positively cavernous. Honda says it can hold a few golf bags or an 82-quart cooler. There are also eight cleats that can tie down a couple of motorcycles. Last but certainly not least is the optional in-bed audio system that uses speakers mounted behind the bed lining to create the ultimate tailgate setup." -- AutoWeek.com

"Don't let the rear fender panel-gap fool you: The new Ridgeline is still a unibody, the only pickup truck on the U.S. market built this way, with independent suspension at all four corners. And at Honda's drive preview in San Antonio, the benefits of this construction were made undeniably clear. On the road, the Ridgeline cruises in ultimate smoothness and comfort, cushioning away all road imperfections and cocooning you in a luxuriously quiet ride. Getting out of the Ridgeline and into one of the brand-new Toyota Tacomas or Chevy Colorados that Honda brought along for comparison was like stepping backward 30 years in chassis design. On worn Texas pavement, the Ridgeline absolutely erased the small-amplitude pavement ripples that juddered the Tacoma, and the body-on-frame groans that the two traditional trucks made over larger pavement imperfections were entirely absent in the Honda." – Road & Track

You can reach at autonews@crain.com. -- Follow on Twitter

25

Shares


Email Newsletters
  • General newsletters
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Mondays)
  • (As needed)
  • Video newscasts
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Saturdays)
  • Special interest newsletters
  • (Thursdays)
  • (Tuesdays)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Wednesdays)
  • (Bimonthly)
  • Special reports
  • (As needed)
  • (As needed)
  • Communication preferences
  • You can unsubscribe at any time through links in these emails. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.