2017 Honda Ridgeline: The Best Pickup Nobody Ever Asked For

When Honda first came out in 2006, everyone scratched their head for a minute, then realized the prospect of a pickup that fits in your garage with Honda reliability would be a good thing. Though popular, the original version was always criticized for being a bit too car-like and not quite truck-enough. For 2017, there’s a new Ridgeline in town, and we’re going to see if they have silenced any of the critics.

The all-new Ridgeline is built on the same platform as the Honda Pilot SUV, and it looks it. The front fascia is reminiscent of the Pilot, and much of the interior is a carryover as well. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Pilot is a great-looking SUV, and very well-liked. One complaint we still have is that some of the interior switchgear and materials still feel a bit cheap for such an expensive vehicle. Our test model, the ‘Black Edition,’ costs around $43k. While it’s certainly a lot of money, it’s very easy to option a Ford or Chevy pickup to well over $60k, so there’s still value here.

In terms of ‘truckness’ we’re not sure it’s any better. Sure, it’s got 280hp, and can tow 5,000lb. Sure, it’s got a bed where you can put (some) cargo or payload. But, essentially this is still an SUV with the back chopped off. They even added a bodyline to make it look like there’s a separate bed, but that’s just a trick – it’s still a full unibody. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still great. But it’s always nice to know when you’re being lied to, and that bodyline is a lie!

All that aside, there is a great storage system in the back of the bed. You can either lower the liftgate conventionally, or with an ingenious latch/hinge setup, which also can swing to the side. That’s handy depending on what you’re loading and how you’re loading it. Beneath the rear section of the bed, there’s a weather-proof storage area which is really handy. There’s plenty of utility here, and while not conventional, it’s definitely got the usability of any truck – maybe more. There’s even a super-convenient 110-Volt power outlet towards the back of the bed.

Back to the engine, the 280hp V-6 is actually silky smooth, and sounds fantastic. Because it’s not a huge, heavy truck, it actually is quite fast. Fuel mileage is reasonable too, rated at 18-city and 25-highway MPG.  Our mileage was a bit worse – but that’s also because it’s too much fun to put your foot down. The 6-speed automatic is just fine, but it’s a little slow to change gears when you ask it to. New for 2017, if you’re willing to live with the ridicule of your friends, you can even get a front-wheel-drive version of the Ridgeline. Our advice? Don’t. Part of having a truck, even if you live in the most arid and urban area, is being able to go anywhere. Don’t trade that for 1mpg!

The tech features are all-Honda, with their forward-collision avoidance and lane assist, among other active-safety features, available on the top models. The 8” touchscreen is unfortunately very frustrating – with a complete lack of physical buttons or knobs, it relies only on the touchscreen controls or steering-wheel mounted buttons. The problem is the software and control system is not intuitive enough to make up for the lack of buttons. You’ll get frustrating clicking and swiping on this screen.

Overall, there is a lot to like about the new Ridgeline. Certainly the engine/performance is well up to par and downright fun. There are tons of unique storage and power outlets throughout. When you look at it, especially from the profile view, it definitely looks very truck-like. But the soul of it is still car-based, and that comes through when you drive it. For truck enthusiasts, that might be a turnoff – but we think for the rest of us, that might be exactly what makes the Honda Ridgeline great!

By Jason Saini

Jason.S@mychinews.com

Special thanks to American Honda Motor Company for providing the 2017 Honda Ridgeline for review.

 

 

Chicago News

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