Honda brought its all-new 2017 Ridgeline to the Hill Country of Texas to show off its updated styling, reworked engineering, and the truckload of upgraded comfort, convenience, safety, and communications features onboard.
The Lone Star State boasts the world's largest pickup market, so it was the perfect location to test it out on the roadways from busy San Antone' to Canyon Lake, where we could tow a boat behind the new model that can tug up to 5,000 pounds, and at a Hill Country ranch, where we could experience its improvements in off-road capability over a number of different surfaces and terrains and try out its handling with a payload in the bed -- it can haul up to 1,600 pounds.
Now in its second generation, Honda has redesigned the profitable four-door midsize truck from the ground up to offer personal and recreational buyers -- as well as commercial and work-truck users -- a higher degree of utility and versatility.
When it first went on sale in 2006, the Honda Ridgeline attracted shoppers with its large and flexible cabin, crossover-like ride and handling, and a conveniently sized cargo bed. Its insulated bed-mounted cooler, something not available in any other truck at the time, was an added bonus.
Like the previous generation Ridgeline that had styling similar to the Chevy Avalanche, the new truck is a unibody vehicle that uses Honda's ACE body structure and is built on the same platform as the popular Honda Pilot sport utility. One of the biggest changes is the updated exterior design; the new Ridgeline is longer and wider with a traditional pickup design like its class peers that include the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Nissan Frontier.
Outside, it sports a sleek, sophisticated, and somewhat rugged design, incorporating Honda's big and wide grille and premium features like standard LED taillights, and available LED projector headlights and LED daytime running lights. The Ridgeline's updated bed boasts numerous Honda-exclusive features and capabilities, including a highly versatile Dual-Action Tailgate, a redesigned In-Bed Trunk with fully flat floor, and the first available in-bed audio system, making it perfect for tailgating. An available 115-volt AC in-bed power outlet with up to 400-watt charging (with engine running) and eight standard 350-pound tie-down cleats add capability.
Inside, designers have applied high-quality, soft-touch materials throughout the cabin with thoughtful details like a push-button start, LED map lighting, and a standard 4.2-inch color display, as well as available keyless entry, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The Ridgeline's 60/40-split-and-folding rear seat offers roomy seating for up to three passengers and, with the seat bottoms folded up, it can carry bulky items like a 55-inch flat screen television or a mountain bike with the wheel intact. Its large under-seat storage area can accommodate long items, such as golf clubs, with the rear seats folded down. An upgraded 8-inch touchscreen Display Audio System offers Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity.
Now available in both two- and all-wheel-drive, the newest Ridgeline is powered by a direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine with variable cylinder management, and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission; it gets an increase of 30 horsepower to 280 hp. and 262 lb.-ft. of torque.
Touting its robust new powertrain for increased cargo-hauling and towing capabilities, Honda promises a class-leading maximum payload and towing that is comparable to its class. All models come standard with a Class III towing hitch and AWD models add a seven-pin wiring connector. Fuel economy is rated at an estimated 19 mpg city, 26 highway, and 22 mpg combined for 2WD models, and 18 / 25 / 21 mpg for AWD models.
Most notable about the new pickup is its car-like handling, quiet ride, comfortable seating, and well-appointed cabin. While its AWD is "autonomous," different modes can be engaged for driving on sand, snow, or mud.
Two-wheel drive models are available in RT ($29,475), RTS ($31,515), Sport, ($33,015), RTL, ($33,780), RTL-T ($35,930), and AWD can be added for $1,800. Upscale all-wheel-drive-only models are available in RTL-E, priced starting at $41,370, and a top-of-the-line Black Edition starting at $42,870. Destination is an additional $900.
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