2017 Honda Ridgeline

Test Drive: 2017 Honda Ridgeline

The 2017 Ridgeline is bigger, prettier in a hunky sort of way and it’s smarter, an attribute Honda is bragging about it in their advertising for the 2017 Ridgeline.

The second generation of the midsize pickup with a trunk (first introduced in 2006) is still a unibody vehicle and still based on a SUV– the Pilot. It takes what’s best about Pilot and adds more utility in the form of a box — a bigger box – while keeping the creature comforts found in the SUV.

When Honda sent me a Touring model of the new-from-the-ground-up pickup, I thought “well, it looks more like a serious truck.” It’s a half-and-half design. Gone are the wide sail-like C pillars and good riddance, even if it makes Ridgeline tow the truck-look line, but the front half is all Pilot. It still stands out from its competitors, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado.

Ridgeline is a one-size-fits-all vehicle: one box size, one wheelbase, one cab configuration, one engine choice and one transmission option – all of them upgraded for 2017.

Wheelbase and length have been increased by 7.62 cm (3 in.) while the box length has grown to 163 cm (64 in) from 152 cm (60 in). With 127 cm (50 in.) of space between the wheel wells, it’s the only pickup in its segment that will carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood flat on the floor (with tailgate lowered). None of the others can do that, but you can get them with a longer box.

The one engine is a 3.5L V6 that delivers 280 horsepower and 262 lb. ft. of torque, delivering power to the AWD system through an ultra-smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Throttle response is quick and shifts are all but undetectable.

The Honda will tow up to 2,268 kg (5,000 lb.) and it can carry 674 kg (1,584-lb.) in that near-indestructible steel-reinforced composite box. I’m a huge fan of the convenient two-way tailgate, which opens like door or drops down like other trucks. One downside is that the tailgate does not lock, although the “trunk” does either with a key or via a switch located in the glovebox.

To say I like the trunk is an understatement. I don’t understand why other manufacturers haven’t copied it. I love that it gives me a flat-bottomed 207L (7 cu. ft.) out-of-sight storage area. It can carry stuff you need to keep dry, but if you need a super-size cooler you can fill ‘er up with ice and party on. There’s a drain-plug at the bottom.

Touring and Black Edition models have a truck bed audio system that turns the box into a giant speaker.

If you need to plug something in, there’s an AC outlet in the box sidewall.

I tried it every which-way: dust does not penetrate the cavity; water doesn’t get in unless you want it to and it gets out when you want it to. Versatile? No question.

Okay, we’ve been standing outside and talking about hauling and partying. What about getting there?

That’s half the fun.

This Ridgeline’s cabin has all the amenities of a high-end sedan: all the usual power stuff, heated and cooled power front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, high-quality soft-touch materials, leather upholstery, power moonroof and legitimate room for five (although the centre rear position isn’t for long distances for anyone other than a child.

Fit and finish is excellent. This is a very pleasant place to be whether you’re working, shopping or off to the theatre.

The 60/40 split rear seat folds up to produce a large, flat storage area. Unfortunately loading bulky items is difficult because the rear doors don’t open wide enough.

Once on the move, Ridgeline continues to impress. The cabin is quiet, seats are comfortable, the four-wheel independent suspension is smooth. Even big bumps are not overly upsetting and I’ve got pretty much every electronic nanny known to man.

Ridgeline is an easy vehicle to drive. Steering response is quick and positive and everything I need to know is displayed in front of me on a 4-inch screen.

Honda brags about being into the connected age, but its 8-inch touchscreen with voice recognition is awful, especially the slider volume control that requires an especially tender touch to regulate. Thank God for the audio controls on the steering wheel. Voice recognition is equally frustrating. I speak reasonable English in what can be described as an average voice pitch, but try to “phone Pat at work” or call “Pat Pegg mobile” and I get a multiple choice offering that asks me to choose which one I want from a list of three or four numbers. Really? Every other vehicle I’ve tested recently will call her cell phone.

Other than that, I find Ridgeline impressive especially when I add in fuel economy of 9.8 L/100 km over 745 km of mixed city/highway driving.

And I love that trunk.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Trim level: Touring
Price as tested (before taxes): $47,090.00
Freight: $1,725.00
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.5L V6/ six-speed automatic
Power/torque: 280 hp/ 262 lb-ft
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 12.8, hwy: 9.5 L/100 Km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic), 5-years/100,000 (power train)
Competitors: Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma.

Related links:

Honda Canada

Canada Truck King Challenge


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