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2017 Honda Ridgeline, Designed For Every Day- A Review By Larry Nutson

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2017 Honda Ridgeline Review
Designed for Everyday

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The light truck market is hot. It seems everyone wants to drive one. Of course that’s somewhat driven by low gasoline prices combined with trucks that have low fuel consumption. And, SUVs are behind most of this growth.

Pickups are not what they once were. Full size pickups are really big. The midsize pickup segment, with the only players for many years being the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, got a recent boost with the two GM entries, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

The all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline is about the size of a full-size pickup of 1998 vintage. About 250,000 first-gen Ridgeline's, sold from 2006 to 2014, are on the road today. Honda hopes to sell new 2017s to these owners and then some.

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The new Ridgeline has a longer wheelbase and overall length with excellent interior space for five and 4-inch longer rear bed. Honda claims best-in-class passenger volume, rear seat cargo space and rear seat versatility. Although unibody architecture, from the side the Ridgeline has lost its C-pillar buttress and now has a vertical seam between the cabin and bed. This seam not only helps appearances but also makes for easier and lower-cost repair.

The Ridgeline uses the same architecture as the Pilot and Acura MDX and looks a lot like the Pilot from the front as well as in the cabin. The all-important pickup bed continues with the world’s first and only dual-action (fold or swing) tailgate. The bed has minimal wheel arch humps and is the only truck in the market that allows a 4ft. X 8 ft. sheet of plywood to lay flat. There’s also an in-bed lockable trunk. This trunk, by the way, also makes a great place to hold iced-down beverages when tailgating at your favorite football game.

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PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

On the road, ride comfort, traction and on- and off-road stability have been improved. Cabin isolation is better for improved NVH on the road. It’s like a car with 8-inches of ground clearance. The Ridgeline can tow 5000 lbs. Honda says that meets the needs of 94 percent of customers who tow less that that.

Powering the Ridgeline is a 280HP 3.5-L V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic. Two-wheel drive (front wheel) or all-wheel-drive is available. Zero to 60 acceleration is in the high 7s to low 8s. EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the 2wd model are 22 mpg combined, with 19 city mpg and 26 highway mpg. The highway rating is at the top of the midsize pickup class.

Honda didn’t forget the off-roaders having given the Ridgeline plenty of ground clearance as I previously mentioned along with very good approach, breakover and departure angle characteristics.

On the inside the interior and seats are very car-like. There’s an Android-based display audio system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible along with a new Garmin Nav system. On the safety front Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistance features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning and lane departure warning. Capping this off, the Ridgeline is the only midsize pickup that provides NHTSA 5-Star rating and IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.

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PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

There’s also blind spot warning, rear cross traffic monitor and lane watch. Honda’s lane watch is one of my favorite features on the market today since it makes it easy to watch for bicyclists in the right lane via the center dashboard display.

What does all this cost? Prices range from $29,475 up to $42,870. Trim levels offered in either 2WD (new for the 2017) or 4WD are R, RTS, Sport, RTL and RTL-T. As is the norm, trims add more features and equipment. Offered in 4WD only are the RTL-E and Black models.

The i-VTM4 torque vectoring differential on 4WD models is 22 lbs. lighter than previous and shifts drive to the rear 40 percent faster.

A couple of noteworthy truck bed features include a 400W AC plug and unique truck-bed speakers for entertaining while tailgating.

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For my Chicagoland test drives I was in the Black model. I found it quite comfy and easy to maneuver. I’ll admit I won’t test drive a full-size pickup around the streets of Chicago. They’re just too big and a real problem to fit in most every parking space. As it was the Ridgeline was a bit of a challenge to maneuver into the secure parking garage I use at my residence.

Behind the wheel I would have thought I was driving a midsize SUV, if I didn’t know there was pickup bed following me. Drivetrain noise is well managed as is wind and tire noise. The Black model is fully loaded so I got to enjoy many convenience and top-line features. My usual nitpick on all current Honda models is the lack of volume and tuning knobs for the audio system.

More details and specifications on the 2017 Honda Ridgeline can be found at Check out other midsize pickups right here at The Auto Channel.

I think if you are looking for a midsize pickup the 2017 Honda Ridgeline should really be given consideration. Honda did a good job in delivering a truck that will meet the needs of most urban-truckers.

2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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