2021 Honda Ridgeline
This is one truck we wish could be available in Zimbabwe. Read on to find our how capable it is.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is a mid-size pickup that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Tops among those needs would be a comfortable interior, plush ride, and lots of safety equipment. It rides on the platform of the Honda Pilot crossover SUV, making it unique, as no other mid-size truck shares its platform with a crossover.
For 2021, in the fourth year of its generation, there are no changes to that winning platform. However, in a tweak to the illusion if not the function, the Ridgeline gets more truck-like exterior styling.
For 2021 there’s also a new model, from Honda Performance Development (HPD), offering individual styling with black fender flares and bronze wheels. And improved headlights come on every model.
The Ridgeline is powered by Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6 making 280 horsepower, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available. That system lacks the mud-plugging low range found in “real” trucks, but most Ridgeline buyers don’t care and won’t miss it. It still can tow 2267 kgs, and that’s a pretty big boat.
Since it’s like a Honda Pilot with a bed in back, the Ridgeline has a spacious cabin that can comfortably seat five people, as well as car-like controls including an 8.0-inch touchscreen with an actual volume knob for convenience.
The carefully designed convenience continues behind the cabin. The pickup bed is made of a composite material that won’t rust or dent. There’s a locking compartment under the floor of the bed, and the tailgate can either be dropped like a regular truck or swung to the side like a door, making the loading of heavy items easier.
The Ridgeline scores higher than rival trucks in safety, with five stars overall from the NHTSA and mostly top “Good” scores from the IIHS. Last year’s Ridgeline scored so-so for its headlights, but this year’s new units should improve that rating. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.
Honda sells the Ridgeline in Sport, RTL, and RTL-E trim levels, with a Black Edition or an HPD package to those models.
Although the 2021 Ridgeline still lacks the beef of a full-bred pickup truck, its new front end does a decent job of pretending. It suggests broad shoulders, at least. The new grille is more vertical, under a chrome brow that slices into big LED headlights.
The HPD trim includes black fender flares and those bronze-tinted wheels,
The cabin makes no attempt to be truck-like. The instrument panel is shared by the Pilot and Passport crossovers, with more graceful and flowing lines than you’ll find on any truck. The controls in the infotainment system are easy to locate, and there are storage bins all over the place.
The front seats are firm and supportive, while the rear seats fold to increase cargo space inside the cabin.
The bed is about 60 inches long and 50 inches wide between the wheel wells, which is rather small for a pickup. But, keeping the Ridgeline’s mission in mind, that’s a consistent compromise. And it’s made up for by the other features, namely the tailgate that’s hinged both at the bottom and side, and the water-tight compartment under the bed, which can be used as a cooler, among other things.
The 3.5-liter V-6 is a proven powerplant for Honda, with many years of development behind it. The version in the Ridgeline makes a solid 208Kw of power and 355 Nm of torque, to provide smooth and swift acceleration. The 9-speed automatic transmission makes good use of that power. It’s the same transmission that’s used in the Pilot, but it must be programmed better, because there’s a hesitancy in the Pilot that’s absent in the Ridgeline.
The Ridgeline rides and handles like the Pilot crossover. It’s comfortable and smooth on almost any road surface, and the steering doesn’t have the remote and disconnected feel of most mid-size pickup trucks.
The all-wheel-drive system is also like a crossover’s all-wheel drive, meant for security on slick roads and traction in occasional mud, snow and sand, but not for rugged off-road challenges.
However there’s an available upgrade for the system: a lock button for deeper mud, snow or sand. It’s optional on the Sport and RTL and standard on RTL-E and Black Edition.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is the truck for those who haul and tow on occasion, and value carlike handling as much as those rugged bona fides. The Ridgeline has it all: smooth V-6 power, comfortable seats for five, and all kinds of clever storage solutions, inside and out.