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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 Honda Ridgeline Review +VIDEO



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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE RIDGELINE VEHICLE
The Honda Ridgeline might not be what you had in mind for your next truck, but given the chance this smaller pickup will impress the pants off you. Unique features and a can-do attitude – wrapped up in all-new muscular styling – brilliantly creates modern utility.

I drove a 2017 Honda Ridgeline with 280-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC engine and 262 pound-feet of torque paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system with driver-selected terrain options. Available in seven trims – the base RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E and my trim, the Black Edition – following are standard features on the Black Edition: black leather upholstery with red stitching; red interior ambient lighting; heated steering wheel; heated front seats; premium audio system; eight-inch touchscreen display with navigation and backup camera; HondaLink app support; Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration; moonroof; 4.2-inch multi-information display; remote and push-button engine start; truck bed audio ability; capless fuel filter; lockable in-bed cooler/trunk; rear privacy glass; eighteen-inch wheels; and special badging along with a Crystal Black Pearl paint job. Total price as described for what was a fully loaded Honda Ridgeline came to $42,870.

Previously pitted against the Chevrolet Avalanche for its similar styling, the Ridgeline can now be compared to the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and Chevrolet Colorado.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Ridgeline’s rebuild adds toughness – from a distance you could mistake this vehicle for the Dodge Ram. The Ridgeline’s truck bed is one of the more interesting highlights. The in-bed audio system lets you listen to music while you camp or unload materials. A 150W/400W truck-bed outlet allows you to plug in power tools or even a TV (think tailgating party). The lockable, 7.3 cubic feet in-bed trunk has a drain plug – Honda needs to think bigger here and pair with a company like Pelican to provide a cutting edge cooler. Don’t forget the dual-hinged tailgate that lifts down and swings to the side. Inside, the Ridgeline is functional and comfortable – HondaLink brings better graphics but the system isn’t as quick or intuitive as Hyundai’s. I enjoyed my Black Edition but didn’t find the package extras very necessary – stick with the RTL-E or RTL-T depending on what kind of audio features you need or don’t need.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Honda Ridgeline has not been rated by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) yet. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, a traction control system, a rearview camera and an advanced airbag system. Optional safety equipment includes Land Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Land Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation (where the brakes are automatically applied).

Cost Issues: A base Ridgeline RT starts at $29,475 with my fully loaded Black Edition priced at $42,870. The base Tacoma SR starts at $23,660 with a top-of-the-line Limited at $35,105. In comparison, a Nissan Frontier with in fancier PRO-4X trim is $33,390 without options, and is not nearly as impressive as the Tacoma or Ridgeline.




Activity & Performance Ability: The Ridgeline claims to handle up to 5,000 pounds when towing, so we hooked a sizable camper up for a long road trip conducted mostly on flat highways. The V6 engine pulled in a smooth, steady fashion and retained roughly 17.8 miles-per-gallon, which is pretty decent. I wouldn’t say the Ridgeline would be my choice for an off-road adventure, but it was a pretty handy camping car – tows nicely, easy to clean and configure, and has unique truck bed options.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Honda Ridgeline has improved and now retains 18 miles-per-gallon city and 25 highway for 21 combined (expect different results when towing). The Toyota Tacoma’s 3.5-liter V6 with four-wheel drive gets 17-city and 21-highway for 19 miles-per-gallon combined while the Nissan Frontier’s 261-horsepower 4-liter gets 15-city and 21-highway for a combined 17 miles-per-gallon.


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FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline poises a question to truck shoppers – how much truck do you really need – and supplies the answer with a functional utility vehicle that will surprise you with its abilities.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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