What we want and what we need are usually pretty far apart. We need shelter, food, water, transportation, and if you asked 98 percent of truck owners in this country, they’d say they need a body-on-frame pickup truck equipped with nothing less than a V8 and solid axles. Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You don’t.
Enter, the Ridgeline, Honda’s entry into the mid-size pickup market, and Autoblog‘s latest long-term test vehicle.
The first-gen Ridgeline debuted back in the 2006 model year. Like this model, it shared its unibody platform with the Honda Pilot, had four-wheel independent suspension, a transversely-mounted V6 and is available in front-wheel drive. The original model also didn’t look like any other truck on the market. Though the new Ridgeline has a much more traditional appearance this time around, everything else is pretty much the same.
Our truck is a 2018 Ridgeline RTL-E in Deep Scarlet. The RTL-E trim is second only to the Black Edition trim, meaning our truck’s price tag is pretty steep, almost $12 grand higher than base at $42,695. There is only one powertrain available on the Ridgeline, a 280 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 paired with a 6 speed automatic. On the RTL-E, all wheel drive is standard. Our fully loaded truck features every creature comfort imaginable, including leather, heated and powered front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless ignition with remote start, navigation, a moonroof, LED headlights, parking sensors, the truck bed audio system, a class III trailer hitch and the Honda Sensing safety suite. This seems like a good time to remind everyone that the F-150 I drove last week that cost $10 grand more didn’t include keyless entry. Moving on.
With a smaller truck comes better gas mileage. Or at least that was the idea. The Ridgeline is rated at 18 city, 25 highway mpg, which isn’t great, and over the last 2000 or so miles we’ve averaged just above 22 mpg. For the size I’d hoped for more.
The comfort of the Ridgeline is where this truck truly shines. I’ve put quite a few miles on this truck and the seats are supportive and comfortable, as is the ride quality. Dirt roads are no match for the Ridgeline, which keeps the ride quiet and comfortable, pavement or no. The six-speed transmission is miles better than the transmission in the Tacoma TRD Pro, which seems to like hunting more than most pickup owners themselves.
The bed is 5.3 feet long, which isn’t terrible, but it’s the hidden features that really stand out. Aside from the truck bed speaker, which in the six months we’ve had the truck hasn’t been used outside of seeing if it actually works, there is an additional truck space under the bed, which not only houses a spare tire, but is large enough to fit a human body in. The tailgate also has some voodoo trickery, with the ability to open traditionally as well as swing open like a door. These two features are by far my favorite of this truck.
Let’s talk looks. This truck isn’t the best looking out there, but it seems like all of the mid-size pickups out there today seem to be suffering from some growing pains, short of the top tier trims like the ZR2, TRD Pro and Ranger Raptor. That being said of the four trucks I just mentioned, the Ridgeline looks the worst.
What bugs me the most though, other than the fuel economy are the rear doors. They are tiny! I was barely able to fit small end tables in the back of the truck when I was moving in the rain. Once I got them in the truck, there was plenty of space, but getting in was a pain.
The amount of people who think they need to harken back to some kind of rancher cowboy roots by spending $60 grand on a truck that they’ll only use to drive around the city is rising. Last year the average transaction price of a pickup was pushing $50 grand. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend your hard earned money like 2008 never happened. You can pickup a Ridgeline for less than $30 grand, and we promise it’ll be just as capable on the streets of Chicago, New York, or LA, as that Chevy Silverado.