Honda Ridgeline Road Test

First Drive
2017 Honda Ridgeline Pickup Truck Looks Conventional but Still Innovative
Second-generation truck continues mission to focus on common consumer needs
Overview
Expected in Spring 2016, the redesigned 2017 Honda Ridgeline takes on more traditional trappings as it again seeks to be the truck for the common consumer.

Many weekend warriors were pleased when Honda introduced its 2005 Ridgeline, considered a smaller, lighter pickup than its work-bred competitors. Rather than being a simple machine, like a conventional truck with a body-on-frame design and live rear axle, the Ridgeline uses unit-body construction and an independent rear suspension like a mild-mannered SUV. Customers flocked to it initially, but after a few years it seemed everyone who wanted an unconventional truck had bought one. Ridgeline sales faded so much that Honda dropped it from the 2015 and 2016 model years.

Impressions
This new one looks more conventional, with a longer, flatter hood and a flat-topped bed, rather than the sloping sides that consumers found to be obstacles when loading some cargo. But the Ridgeline retains the key ingredients of unit-body construction (sharing its architecture with the Honda Pilot SUV and Acura MDX, also owned by Honda) and innovative features like a tailgate that can swing open like a door or flip down in normal fashion and a lockable trunk-like cargo space beneath the bed floor.

The independent suspension that makes the trunk space possible also contributes to a more comfortable ride and better handling than most conventional trucks offer--traits the new model should share with the original.

Honda also claims Ridgeline will outpace traditional midsized trucks in towing capacity and cargo hauling. (The original was limited to 5,000-lbs. tow capacity; the new one will need to pull more than 7,000-lbs. to make good on the boast.)

The Pilot's 3.5-liter V-6, rated at 280-horsepower, might be tweaked closer to 300 hp to make good on Honda's claim it will out-accelerate the pack while its light construction yields better fuel economy.

CR's Take
We considered the previous Ridgeline to be among the best compact pickups we've tested. A supple ride, agile handling, responsive engine, roomy cabin, and clever bed gave it real appeal. We hope these virtues remain as Honda aims to be more trucklike in appearance and ability. The proof will be in the final product, when it faces Consumer Reports' tests.

New Car Reliability Prediction

Based on the latest survey, we expect reliability of new models will be average

Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
3/36

Powertrain (years/miles)
5/60

Rust through (years/miles)
5/unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
3/36