2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Test Drive


By Barbara & Bill Schaffer

With exception of people who buy pickups for work and business, we categorize full-size pickup buyers into four basic groups or some combination there of:

1. Those who have something they regularly haul, pull (like a boat or travel trailer) or they go off road.
2. Those who want to be prepared in case they ever have to haul, pull or go off road.
3. Those who feel safer setting higher up and in larger vehicle.
4. Those who just think pickups are cool.

We think the 2017 Honda Ridgeline offers a brilliant alternative for many of shoppers who think they need a full-size pickup. We believed the original Honda Ridgeline was an excellent truck and recommended it to people who didn?t need a full-size pickup. Now, we think the 2017 Honda Ridge line is a pickup that should have an even greater appeal and hits the sweet spot for shoppers in categories 2, 3 and 4.


The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is a midsize pickup that is bit longer and wider than the original. It?s also a lower than the full size trucks, which means it?s easier to get into and out of, yet it still has nearly eight-inches of ground clearance. Being lower also means it has a lower center of gravity which improves the handling characteristics. On the road, the Ridgeline drives more like the very civilized Honda Pilot SUV and with some traits not unlike the Honda Accord.


The second generation Ridgeline was redesigned from the ground up to give owners the most utility and versaility of any truck in this class. The Ridgeline can haul up to 1,584 pounds of cargo or tow up to 5,000-pounds.


The Honda Ridgeline is build on Honda?s rigid Global Light Truck platform. It also has Honda?s Advanced Compatibility Engineering which amplifies the occupant protection with a network of structural elements that disperse crash forces to better protect the occupants in a collision. Ridgeline is also underpinned with fully independent front and rear suspensions with Amplitude Reactive Dampers for better ride comfort and handling precision. These all combine to give Ridgeline handling characteristics more like a car than a pickup and make it safer because it?s less susceptible to rolling over.



Ridgeline is powered by Honda?s state of the art V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 280-hp 3.5-liter SOHC direct injected i-VTEC V-6 engine has a sophisticated new Variable Cylinder Management system to improve fuel economy. The EPA rates Ridgeline fuel economy at 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. According to the trip computer we averaged 22.3 mpg during our week of local area driving. The Ridgeline accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds according to buff magazine tests.




The 2017 version is available in front- or all-wheel drive. The AWD system has an Intelligent Traction Management System that allows the driver to push a console mounted button to select the operating mode for different driving conditions: normal, snow, mud and sand.
The Ridgeline interior is typical Honda ? comfortable and practical. The rear seat isn?t as spacious as some of the full-size crew cabs, but does have room for three adults. The seat can also be folded easily to expand the interior cargo space.



The cargo bed is where the Ridgeline shows it?s most interesting innovations. It?s build using a ultra high strength fiber-reinforced SMC composite ? no bed liner required. It?s a few inches wider and longer than than the first generation Ridgeline and is wide enough to carry four-foot wide building materials flat between the wheel wells. The tail gate can be opened down, like most trucks, or sideways which is especially handy when loading cargo and to access the Honda exclusive In-Bed-Trunk. Mounted under the rear cargo floor the 7.3 cubic foot trunk can carry suitcases, golf bags, a big cooler, tools or what ever the owner needs ? protected and locked up. For tailgating the top model even has an audio system built-in to the bed.


The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is one of the most technologically advanced Honda?s ever. It has an available eight-inch capacitive touchscreen that interfaces with Apple CarPlay? and Android Auto? and integrates seamlessly with compatible smartphone features and functions, including smartphone-powered navigation capabilities. New capabilities of the Honda designed Satellite-Linked Navigation System? include improved graphics 3D renderings of terrain, buildings and road signs, improved lane guidance, live search function and more. Additional standard and available technologies include HD Radio, SiriusXM 2.0 and up to four USB ports including two with 2.5-amp capability.



The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is offered in seven trim levels: RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E and the Black Edition. Prices start at $30,375, including the destination charge, for the front-wheel drive RT. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option on all models except RTL-E and Black Edition which have standard AWD. The most expensive model, the Black Edition, which has all the available features included, is priced at $43,770.

Honda Sensing? which is included on the equipment lists of the two top level models adds one of the most comprehensive suites of driver assistance and safety features you can get on any truck. It includes Collision Mitigation Braking System?, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control.


The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is not the truck for someone who specifically needs the ability to carry heavy cargo or tow big loads regularly, there are many trucks that do that much better. However for owners that want a truck for the everyday usability, economy, versatility, comfort and convenience it?s tough to find anything better suited than the Honda Ridgeline.




The new truck was designed, developed and is manufactured in the U.S. Its exterior and interior design was conducted by Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in its Los Angeles design studio, while vehicle development was undertaken at the company?s Raymond, Ohio, new-model development center. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC, in Lincoln, Ala., is the exclusive manufacturing home for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline.

More from Our Auto Expert