More trucks are sold in Texas than in any other state in the country so it’s no wonder that Honda chose San Antonio, TX for the launch of its all-new 2017 Ridgeline. This redesign is not in name only; it’s a true reconstruction of the midsize pickup from the top down. As a result, the Ridgeline looks more truck-like and offers greater versatility and capability.
For starters, Honda designers gave the Ridgeline a truck profile, replacing the previous side panel with one that has an integrated truss, while retaining its unibody construction and smooth ride. There’s actually a seam down the side between the cabin and the bed that gives the appearance that the two are separate, but they’re not.
The new Ridgeline also retains certain innovations from the inaugural model that launched in 2006, namely a dual-action tailgate that opens to the side, as well as drops down, and a locking in-bed trunk that can hold wet or dry cargo. New for 2017 is the available in-bed audio system, perfect for Latinos who love to picnic or tailgate. Another first is the availability of two-wheel or four-wheel drive (2WD or 4WD) configurations.
Powered by a more powerful and efficient direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine (280 horses and 262 lb.-ft. of torque) matched to a new six-speed automatic transmission with a wider ratio spread, the Ridgeline 2WD has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Those equipped with AWD add the new Intelligent Variable Torque Management torque-vectoring system to achieve a class-leading city/highway EPA fuel economy rating of 18/25 mpg, plus improved all-weather traction and handling capability. I averaged 23.4 mpg on the test drive.
We also tested the Ridgeline’s Intelligent Traction Management System that enhances off-road capability with drive modes for different conditions— Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand on the AWD and Normal and Snow for the 2WD. Towing maxes out at 5,000 lbs.
With a bed that has been stretched to 64 inches in length and 60 inches in width, it’s longer than its main competitors, and with the afore mentioned in-bed trunk that can double as an 82 qt. cooler, the Ridgeline offers a best-in-class payload of 1,584 lbs. It’s the only bed in the midsize class that can flat haul four-foot-wide items, like drywall. It also has best-in-class cargo volume inside, under the rear seat and with the rear seats flipped up.
New available technology includes an eight-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a new generation of the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, Smart Entry, and Remote Engine Start.
While the multi-angle rearview camera is standard, advanced safety features like a blind spot monitor or rear cross traffic alert only come with the top trim levels.
Standard convenience features include push button start, a Class III towing hitch, fold-up rear seats, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls, and AM/FM stereo with an MP3 auxiliary jack and Windows Playback capability, USB audio interface, Bluetooth phone, and streaming audio.
In the ten years since it was introduced, I never got to meet the original Honda Ridgeline. I have met the next generation, however, and the pleasure was all mine. It’s pricey but competitive with comparably equipped versions in the segment.
Built at the Honda manufacturing plant in Alabama and available in seven trim levels, the 2017 Ridgeline has a base price of $30,375 with destination fees. You’ll have to spend $42,270 on the RTL-E trim to get cool features like the in-bed audio system.