2017 Honda Ridgeline Is an Atypical, Useful Pickup

2017 Honda Ridgeline (Aaron)

We normally think of pickup trucks as being large, robust, body-on-frame vehicles where fuel economy and daily use are secondary. With the Honda Ridgeline, the opposite is true. With innovative features and a handy design, the Ridgeline is often much more useful than a typical small pickup truck might be.

The manufacturer says

With 280 hp, 4-wheel independent suspension, an available intelligent AWD system and unit-body construction, Ridgeline is always raring to go.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Honda
  • Year, Model: 2017 Ridgeline
  • Class, Type: Pickup truck
  • Propulsion system: 3.5L V6
  • Base Price: $29,630
  • MSRP as tested: $36,930
  • Availability: Now

Overview

It might be a surprise to know that the 2017 Honda Ridgeline has a higher cargo rating than any other midsize crew-cab pickup truck. The Ridgeline may not look it, but it’s wider and longer than most trucks in that class and has a smoother ride to go with that. Unlike most pickup trucks, the Honda is car-based in that it’s a unibody construction with four-wheel independent suspension and all-wheel drive.

It’s best to think of the Ridgeline as a crossover with a truck bed. Unlike the original, which was discontinued in 2014, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline has better fuel economy and a slightly more robust build. Like the original, though, the Ridgeline retains the dual-swinging tailgate, the under-bed storage box, a more powerful engine, and a great interior.

The 2017 Ridgeline has a 3.5-liter V6 that runs through a smooth six-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. Acceleration is great and the truck’s handling are superb. This is a far more comfortable ride than one will find in any other pickup truck. Off the pavement, the Ridgeline is more like a crossover in terms of its capability in dirt and mud. This means that it can’t do what other pickups with 4WD might do. On the flip side, buyers of the Ridgeline are not likely to need or care about those capabilities.

Where the 2017 Ridgeline really shines is with cargo and people hauling. The interior of the Honda Ridgeline is extremely comfortable, which matches the already-great ride quality. Seating for up to five is available, though getting three adults across could be a stretch for the back seat. Three kids across is no problem.

The cargo bed is even better. It’s longer and wider than most midsize trucks with a tailgate that drops down or swings out to the left (driver’s) side. That’s pretty smart. It’s a lower loading height than most pickups as well and will let full four-foot sheets of plywood lie flat. No other midsize truck can boast that. Under the bed is a lockable storage box that holds a surprisingly large amount of stuff. That tub-like box has drain plugs and can be filled with ice and drinks, gear, or tools. Towing with the Ridgeline is rated at 5,000 pounds.

Fuel economy in the Ridgeline could be better, but still beats most of the midsize competition. The 2017 Ridgeline is rated at 18 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. In the real world, we saw close to those numbers at 20 mpg overall, but included larger passenger loads and hauling in our mix. So the Ridgeline did well. Far better than any midsize truck we’ve tried.

What we like

A more useful, daily-driving-style pickup that retains usefulness.

Excellent daily driver with a lot of utility and comfort.

What we don't

Fuel economy should be higher.

Towing capability is a bit shy when compared to others in the segment.

Conclusions

The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is a great little pickup truck with a lot of useful qualities. It has a lower load height, better cargo capability, and smarter design than most midsize trucks offered today. It’s more useful in everyday, real-world uses than most of its competitors thanks to its road comfort and strong cargo hauling merits. We can say that we’re fans of the little Honda Ridgeline.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Ridgeline was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, about 300 miles were put on the vehicle in varied driving conditions and with various loads.

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