Auto Nsider Review: 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD

If you’ve got a couple of full sleeves goin’…maybe weigh in around 300 plus or minus a little….and plan your vacations around Sturgis and Daytona, you might want a different truck.

 

On the other hand, if you value the ability to haul five people around in leather-lined luxury and also just throw five feet of almost anything in the back and go, Honda’s brand-new redesigned Ridgeline might surprise you.

 

Yes….it’s really all-new.

 

Let’s start with the obvious….looks.    The new Ridgeline’s profile has morphed from the previous model’s “What were they thinkin’ ?’”  to “Where in the heck have you been?”

 

That’s not to say that the ’17 Ridgeline is stunning….it’s just that it finally looks like a truck.

 

But it doesn’t drive like a truck.   And that’s not a bad thing.   In fact, that may be one of the biggest selling points of Honda’s new Ridgeline.    If you didn’t see the bed in the back, you’d think you were driving any other reasonably nimble mid-sized SUV.

 

Honda says their Ridgeline is designed for “Dirt Roads to Downtown”…and that pretty well sums it up.    Let’s start with the Downtown part.   You won’t fear in-town traffic or tight parking spaces in the Ridgeline.   For comparison, the Ridgeline is roughly ten inches shorter and a scootch narrower than Ford’s benchmark F-150.

 

And as for the dirt roads part, an AWD Ridgeline with it’s integral tow-hitch can haul up to 5,000 lbs of bikes, jet skis, boats or other toys up and down those dirt roads thanks in part to  “normal”, “snow”, “mud” and “sand” settings.

 

But we’ve left out “fun” and “function”….and that’s perhaps the heart of the Ridgeline.

 

You wanna’ talk tailgating?   The Ridgeline might be the Tailgating Truck of the Year.   It’s got a lockable under-the-bed storage bin complete with a drain-plug.   Perfect for beverages….and at other times, room for a couple of cubic feet of anything that you don’t want stolen.  And it’s easy to access with Honda’s two-way tailgate that folds down as expected, but also swings sideways to allow you to reach right in to that secret storage area.

 

Then there’s the in-bed audio in the high-line RTL Ridgeline.   It pretty much guarantees that you’ll be the most popular place to hang at any Tailgate function.

 

And one more nice touch:   Rear seats that fold up with one quick tug….enabling you to put a bicycle in the back of the cab….safe, secure and dry.

 

Ridgelines are propelled by a 280 HP six running thru a 6-speed automatic.   The result is an enjoyable combination of performance and economy.   The Feds say 19 city and 26 Hwy MPG’s….with AWD costing only one MPG.

 

And as for cost, Honda’s new Ridgeline starts with a window sticker right at 30K.    Our test Ridgeline was an all-wheel-drive top-of-the-line RTL-E that had pretty much everything, including a heated leather interior, premium audio, Honda’s in-bed audio, and just about all of today’s electronic warning systems and listed at $42,270.

 

Again, if you’re hauling concrete blocks to a construction site, you might prefer another truck.   But if your needs are more around hauling / towing toys and making runs to pick up fertilizer, grass seed, pine straw…and tailgating…Honda’s all-new and redesigned Ridgeline is a serious contender in the “fun and functional” category.

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