2021 Honda Ridgeline - Review By Larry Nutson
2021 Honda Ridgeline
Comfortable and versatile
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
The pickup segment has been evolving beyond the ever-popular full-size pickups for a number of years now. For many years the only midsize pickup entries were the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. The Honda Ridgeline came along for 2005. Then two GM entries, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, appeared for 2015. Ford introduced the new Ranger in 2019.
And now there’s even more new and somewhat smaller entries with the Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Santa Cruz soon being introduced.
The Honda Ridgeline was redesigned for 2017 making it look like a more traditional pickup. Now for 2021 the Ridgeline has more rugged styling to better fit its overall capabilities.
The unibody Ridgeline has all-new body panels forward of the windshield. There’s also a new rear bumper with exposed exhaust finishers. Honda’s iVTM-4 all-wheel drive (AWD) system is now standard across the model range.
All Ridgeline trims get new contrast stitching on the seats; Sport trims add new cloth seat inserts; and Sport, RTL and RTL-E trims have new dash, steering wheel and center console accents. A physical volume knob has been added to the audio system plus wireless phone charging is new.
New factory-installed option packages allow for more personalization. The HPD (Honda Performance Development) Package ($2,800) includes 18” HPD bronze-colored alloy wheels, fender flares, unique grille, HPD decals and emblem. A Utility Package ($1,465) adds running boards and roof rails with crossbars. The Function Package ($270) provides a bed cargo net, trunk cargo net, trunk cargo dividers, and a first-aid kit. Lastly, a Function plus (+) Package ($1,315) adds a hard tonneau cover to the Function Package.
The Ridgeline is offered only as a 5-passenger, 4-door crew cab. The past popularity of the 2-door, bench-seat, 3-passenger pickup has waned significantly. Under the hood is a 280-HP 3.5-L V6 mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. As previously mentioned, all new Ridgelines are all-wheel drive.
EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2021 Ridgeline AWD are 21 combined mpg, with 18 city mpg and 24 highway mpg.
At 1,589 lbs., the Ridgeline has the heaviest standard payload in its class and largest standard bed—the only one in which you can lay 4 ft. wide sheets of plywood or drywall flat, according to Honda. The two-way tailgate either drops down or swings to the side for easy loading.
The lockable in-bed trunk – a compartment in the bed floor, is handy for secure storage or you can fill it with ice and use it to chill beverages. A handy drain makes that work well.
The 5,000 lbs. towing capacity is not the most robust in its class but Honda says its more than enough for what segment customers might tow. For example, a 21 ft. 5-person travel trailer, or two four-seater side-by-sides, or a pair of wave runners, or two snowmobiles or a 20 ft. deck boat, including their trailer, can each by easily towed by a Ridgeline.
With a fully boxed truss-style floor frame the Ridgeline has 7.64 inches of ground clearance and approach, breakover and departure angles all of around 20-degees giving it moderate off-road capability. Out on the open road the unibody construction helps deliver a smoother ride and more composed and confident handling.
The Ridgeline is offered in Sport, RTL, RTL-E and Black Edition trims. All 2021 Honda Ridgelines come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies, featuring Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control.
2021 Ridgeline pricing starts at $36,490 for the Sport trim and progresses through the RTL at $39,470, the RTL-E at $42,420 and the Black Edition at $43,920. Add $1,175 to each for the destination charge.
For my urban Chicago drive experience in the Ridgeline I drove the Sport trim with the HPD package and finished in optional Radiant Red metallic that added $395. The bottom line price was $40,860.
Take a look at www.automobiles.honda.com for more details on the 2021 Ridgeline. In the 2021 Cars.com American-Made Index the Honda Ridgeline assembled in Lincoln Alabama ranks No 6 out of 90 vehicles.
The midsize pickups like the Ridgeline as well as the new compact entries coming from Ford and Hyundai are well suited for someone thinking about a buying a utility vehicle but wanting more versatility to suit their free-time activities. Weekend farmers or avid gardeners will find the Ridgeline is nicely comfortable for everyday driving and well suited to carry your family or friends in style.
© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy