2017 Honda Ridgeline: Sport Utility Truck is back with ruggedness and sophistication
Jan 18, 2017, 00:00 AM
In 2005, for the 2006 model year, Honda introduced the Ridgeline to give Honda automobile owners a chance to also own a truck under the badge. It was created, not as a traditional truck, but as a crossover sports-utility truck, or SUT, Production on that first generation ended in 2014, but Ridgeline is back for 2017 as an innovative midsize pickup truck. Ridgeline has been redesigned from the ground up to offer both recreational and work users a higher degree of utility and versatility in a modern, rugged and sophisticated midsize pickup.
Based on Honda's Global Light Truck platform -- with its highly rigid, aerodynamic and tightly sealed unitized body construction, Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ safety body structure, and fully independent front and rear suspension systems with Amplitude Reactive Dampers – the 2017 Honda Ridgeline has been named the 2017 North American Truck of the Year at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit (chosen by more than 60 automotive journalists). Ridgeline has also earned a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when equipped with available front crash prevention system and LED headlights. Ridgeline is the first and only pickup to earn that rating.
The all-new 2017 Ridgeline sports a sleek, sophisticated and rugged exterior design, incorporating new premium features including standard LED taillights, and available features such as LED projector headlights and LED daytime running lights. The Second-Generation truck gained 3.2 inches in wheelbase over Gen-1 and now sits at 125.2 inches. This year’s model is also 3.1 inches longer at 210 inches, 0.5 inches higher at 70.8 inches in AWD configuration, and 0.8 inches wider at 78.6 inches. The bed length is 3.9 inches longer at 64 inches, yet with the size gains, curbweight is down for AWD by 73 lbs. to 4431 lbs.
The redesign retains the features and capabilities from the first generation, but with more traditional truck styling, advanced safety features and modern electronic amenities.
Powering the 2017 Ridgeline is a new 3.5-liter direct injected i-VTEC® 24-valve SOHC V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management™ cylinder deactivation technology. The new engine is mated to an innovative smooth shifting 6-speed automatic that offers a 20 percent wider gear ratio spread than the previous-generation Ridgeline 5-speed automatic, for enhanced acceleration, pulling power and fuel efficiency. The Ridgeline's new engine is rated at 280 peak horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. peak torque. Peak engine output is up 30 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft. of torque over the previous Ridgeline, with increased torque over the engine's entire operating (rpm) range.
AWD fuel economy is EPA rated at 18/city, 25/highway and 21mpg/combined on regular unleaded fuel. A week of testing over snow, ice and occasionally dry roads and highways, as well as some soft-road activities, yielded an average of 20.3mpg.
Behind the wheel, steering was attentive and carlike on long straights and weaving corners, with very little body-lean. Acceleration from the six-speed automatic transmission was smooth and predictable, and track runs proved solid for a mid-size truck or SUT at 7 seconds flat for a zero-to-60mph sprint and 15.6 seconds for a quarter-mile.
The four-wheel independent suspension was supple over highway irregularities and worked well with an advanced traction management system to conquer snow and soft-road obstacles.
The new interior combines premium quality, convenience and user-friendly technology in a roomy, versatile package. With seating for five, sightlines are good and interior space is accommodating at 40.1 inches of front headroom and 38.8 in the rear; legroom affords 40.9 inches up front and 36.7 for rear seats and shoulder room comes in at 62.0 and 61.5 inches.
Ridgeline’s cabin features such available amenities as one-touch power moonroof with tilt feature; LED interior ambient lighting; Smart Entry and pushbutton start; heated front seats and steering wheel; reconfigurable rear seat; 8-inch touchscreen display audio system with Android operating system; Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto; new-generation "2.0/3.0" SiriusXM® Radio; Pandora® compatibility; SMS Text Message function and HondaLink™ connected-car system.
Key safety and driver-assistive features include Pedestrian Injury Mitigation Design, Vehicle Stability Assist™ with Traction Control, Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering, Brake Assist, advanced 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution, Dual-Stage, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags, Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Tire Fill Assist, Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, parking sensors, Honda LaneWatch™, Blind Spot Information, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and much more.
With seven trims offered, the base 4-door Crew Cab 2017 Honda Ridgeline RT starts at $29,475 in 2WD automatic. The AWD automatic version (and I nearly always recommend to go AWD or 4WD) adds $1900. Cool bodyside molding added $225 and silver roof rail crossbars added $225. Door visors added $275; an expanded view mirror added $44; door edge guards added $105; fog lights added $400; running boards added $625 and splash guards added $116 for front and rear. Inside, all-season floor mats added $169 and automatic dimming mirror added $142. Three electronic additions were back-up sensors for $500, remote engine start for $99 and a CD player for $310. With destination and handling charges of $940, my 2017 Honda Ridgeline as tested was priced at $36,075.
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Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.