Before 2017 Honda Ridgeline, Honda first introduced the Ridgeline in 2005, they approached its design from a different perspective, focusing on offering the utility of a pickup with the ride comfort, ease of use, and efficiency of a car. It was a risky move, and the first generation Ridgeline proved to be somewhat polarizing to truck buyers both for its appearance and its car-like underpinnings.
But the clever design features found throughout the Ridgeline won it something of a cult following that kept the first generation pickup in production for nearly a decade. After more than a year off the market, Honda has returned to the fold with an all-new, second generation Ridgeline that builds upon the strengths of the original truck while addressing many of the issues that kept truck buyers at arm’s length the first time around.
2017 Honda Ridgeline Revision
First things first: The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is still a unibody pickup, and it’s based on a front wheel drive chassis shared with the current generation Pilot crossover. However, the Ridgeline gets the strategic use of high strength steel throughout its chassis that the Pilot doesn’t. For those who are rational enough to have not already dismissed this truck out of the gate, there’s also a number of other improvements throughout the second generation Ridgeline.
Motivating the new Ridgeline is a naturally aspirated, 3.5-liter SOHC V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It sends the power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic as standard while all-wheel drive is optional. There’s enough grunt on tap to get the truck to 60 miles per hour from a standstill reportedly almost two seconds faster than the previous model, but with a curb weight of over 4,500 pounds and transmission that’s a bit slow to make decisions, its pace still falls short of anything resembling urgency.
2017 Honda Ridgeline Utility Performance
Opting for all-wheel drive raises ground clearance from 7.3 inches to 7.9 and boosts the tow rating from 3,500 pounds to 5,000. Towing capacity is one place where traditional body-on-frame trucks have an advantage, as the Ridgeline AWD’s 5,000 pound limit falls short of the class-leading Chevrolet Colorado V6 4×4 by one ton. But the tradeoffs for the Chevy’s superior towing capacity are the ride quality and handling limitations of body-on-frame trucks. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline Ridgeline in contrast, with its fully independent suspension, is far more comfortable and composed in operation when compared to mid-sized trucks of that ilk, whether on-road or off. It’s substantially quieter too, and its quick, low-effort steering makes it feel more than a sedan than a pickup from the driver’s seat.
Moreover, Honda also asserts that ninety percent of mid-sized truck buyers never actually tow anything with their pickups. So instead of focusing on maximizing functionality that may never be utilized, they’ve concentrated their efforts on features that Honda thinks these buyers will actually find useful.
Take, for instance, the Ridgeline’s bed. The liner is molded from a dent, scratch, and UV-resistant fiber-reinforced polymer so that it can handle not only the rigors of hauling, but also the abuse of sun exposure so the material won’t be bleached out in just a few years’ time.
The Ridgeline’s heralded in-bed trunk makes a return in the second generation pickup, allowing for secured storage under the floor of the bed that also incorporates a drain plug at the bottom so it can also be used as an ice chest.
Adding to the 2017 Honda Ridgeline’s tailgating prowess is the Truck Bed Audio function which, as the name suggests, uses the Ridgeline’s bed as an outdoor sound system. It might seem like a gimmicky feature at first, but in practice it sounds surprisingly good. Paired with the bed’s additional features, like a 400w power outlet and a dual action tailgate that can swing either down or out, the Ridgeline might be the most versatile party-mobile on sale today, and Honda’s betting on the notion that would-be owners will actually get some use out of these features.