Honda Ridgeline — A new kind of mid-sized truck

By David Finkelstein

To sum up the all new 2017 Honda Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck in one word, it's simply “amazing!” Recently launched through Honda's 1,000 or so nationwide independent dealership network, Ridgeline delivers a welcomed higher level of versatility, capability and underlining comfort, when compared to other trucks in this specialty class.

With budget concerns taken into account when new vehicle shopping, the manufacturer suggested retail price starts at $29,475 for the two-wheel-drive model and $31,275 for the all-wheel-drive version.

The lower step-in height, car-like drive characteristics and whisper-quiet interior give you the overall feeling that you're engaged with a near luxury automobile, rather than a truck. The ride is so quiet, I would venture to suggest that you could likely hear the sound of “cotton balls” dropping while seated in the spacious passenger cabin. Typical road noises tend to be squelched even at highway speeds. This welcomed lack of noise, vibration and drive harshness is on par with high end vehicles.

Honda engineers designed the ultra-rigid and “steel strong” unibody structure with measurable and robust means, resulting in class-leading payload capacity and benchmark dynamic performance.

"We've advanced the best and most beloved elements of the original Ridgeline and combined them with an outstanding new platform and the most advanced technology to create new value in the midsize pickup segment," said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division."

The result is an amazingly versatile Honda truck, with built-in un-compromised capability plus the fact that you can be 100% assured of Honda's quality reputation with every mile you drive. This innovative vehicle was redesigned from the ground up, as it shows the very moment you get behind the wheel. It offers both recreational and work users a higher degree of utility in a modern and rugged, yet sophisticated midsize truck package.

It also has the largest and most flexible cabin in its class. Ridgeline is framed around a high level of confident and refined car-like dynamic driving performance and ride quality.

The fully independent front and rear suspension systems further translate into superior ride comfort and precision handling. Also built-in, Honda engineered a highly rigid yet aerodynamic and tightly sealed unitized “next generation” underside foundation that delivers up to three times the torsional rigidity of competing body-on-frame trucks.

The impressive towing numbers include class-leading 1,584-pound maximum payload capacity, coupled with up to 5,000-pound towing capabilities. These figures do however tend to have some variance, depending on trim and equipment.

The '17 Ridgeline sports a sleek, attractive and sophisticated prominent exterior design. Premium features including standard LED taillights and available LED projector headlights and LED daytime running lights further set this truck apart from the competitive makes in its class.

The premium interior is designed with high quality, soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. It also features LED map lighting, a large center storage ben plus plenty of additional personal cargo space molded in the door panels. The optional Tri-Zone automatic climate Control system is also a nice touch.

Additional high-end amenities include a standard 4.2-inch color dash display unit plus available heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. All models also come standard with a Class III towing hitch and AWD models add a 7-pin wiring connector.

The 60/40-split and folding rear passenger compartment offers roomy seating for up to three passengers. The seat bottoms folded up, increasing load capacity to accommodate bulky items such as a 55-inch flat screen television or a bicycle. However, the rear doors slightly lack in opening all out entirely.  Ridgeline's large under-seat storage area can be used to stow lengthy items such as golf clubs or snow boards.

Rolling technologies in the form of connectivity include an available 8-inch touchscreen. The display interface works nicely with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for seamless integration of compatible smartphone functions. The newly introduced Honda Satellite-Linked navigation system features improved graphics and capabilities including 3D renderings of terrain, buildings and road signs. The truck also features the world's first available truck bed audio system plus an available 400 watt in-bed power outlet and Honda-exclusive dual action tailgate making Ridgeline the "ultimate tailgate party" vehicle.

Ridgeline also has a sophisticated engine and available advanced torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system for on-road and off-road performance as well as best-in-class fuel efficiency. The new 3.5-liter direct-injected SOHC V-6 engine uses a variable cylinder management system mated to a wide ratio 6-speed automatic transmission. Peak engine output is 280 horsepower, which happens to be some 30 additional horsepower, when compared to the previous model.

The EPA fuel economy numbers are 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway (2WD) plus 18 mpg city/25 highway with AWD. All-wheel-drive models utilize Honda's newest and most advanced technology linked with a button-operated Intelligent Traction Management System that offers different operating modes. The standard suite of safety features include four-channel anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, Trailer Stability Assist, Agile Handling Assist, dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags and side-curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions and a new Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

All versions of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline are manufactured in Lincoln, Ala.