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Honda Ridgeline acts more like a full-size truck

By Craig And Deanne Conover - | Jul 3, 2021
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2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package. The Honda Ridgeline acts like a full-size truck.

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2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

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2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

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2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

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2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

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2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

In America, having a truck has always seemed to be some kind of rite of passage for many, be it that they need to haul something larger, just want the ability to go places on the weekend with many different types of toys or just plain want a status symbol.

For us, we didn’t get our first truck until the kids were mostly grown and we had outgrown the need for a larger SUV. But the reasoning was still the fact that we needed the power and ability to haul trailers and get other things around that would be harder without the added versatility of having an open bed.

For Honda, the Ridgeline is a truck, and the company wants it to be a better truck, with a way for first-time buyers to see them as something different. They also need a way to connect with the buyers of their other great off-road vehicles such as motorcycles and side by sides, the toys many enjoy on a weekend especially out here in the Intermountain West.

Since there are already some great offerings in the mid-sized truck market, such as the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado, they need to have something that appeals to the market — especially the under-40 market as they explained. Styling and image of the truck are the most important points, research has shown in how they need to appeal to this market.

With that, Honda has added some extras that are available at the lowest trim level of Sport that would help with its curb appeal, if you will. It is not often that we receive the lowest trim level of any vehicle for our test week, as it was the 2021 Ridgeline.

The reasoning for this, according to Carl Pulley from Honda Public Relations, was to promote the truck where they thought there would be the most significant increase in sales, and also to show that even at the lower trim level, the Honda still comes with all the great abilities and power for those wanting and needing a truck to, well, do things only a truck can do.

The only extra included on our test ride was the HPD, (Honda Product Development) package ($2,800), adding fender flares, 18-inch bronze wheel, a special grille up front and HPD badging around the truck. Everything included just made the truck look even more aggressive and appealing to those younger buyers — although we did like the additions, with the more aggressive look, which was even working for us of a slightly older generation.

Even at this base level there are a couple of things to note that will make the Ridgeline stand out from a very crowded market. The first is the fact that a true 4-foot-wide sheet of plywood or sheetrock for that matter would fit into the bed of the new truck.

This would be extremely important to us after having had many home improvement projects over the years where we needed to get home with wood that wide. Especially with sheetrock it is very important as it could break where the wheel wells are if transported in a smaller truck not lying completely flat.

With the Ridgeline and all of the different tie points in the bed, putting things in and keeping them there, even with the tailgate down was a breeze. Add to the mix that the Honda has the highest payload capacity in its class at 1,583 pounds of extra stuff. It will even hold not one but two Honda dirt bikes side by side in the bed with the extra space.

It comes complete with a very strong 3.5-liter, V6 engine that pumps out 280 horsepower, along with 262 ft.-lbs. of torque. The Ridgeline also will pull up to 5,000 pounds of trailer, which can include two Honda Talon 4-passenger side by sides, a 20-foot boat or a 21-foot travel trailer. Not bad for a mid-sized truck.

Couple all of this with a unibody construction and a 9-speed transmission and we found it to have a very comfortable ride, with even Deanne getting around easily in the truck, even in tight parking places like the grocery store. Proving that even with all the extra space in the Ridgeline it made for a great everyday driver.

Probably our favorite feature of any Ridgeline is the extra added space in the bed of the truck, which is really more like a trunk in a truck. There are so many uses for this space. It makes for a great place to put tools, things for a weekend getaway or just stuff that you may need locked away and out of sight. It can even be filled with ice and drinks for the tailgate party. Oh and Honda has thought of everything, including a drain plug to let the water out after the ice has melted.

As a full-time four-wheel drive truck it was ready to handle pretty much any path we took during our test week, even conquering a few mountain roads close by. We did have the chance to put just over 3,000 pounds of a trailer behind the Ridgeline and it pulled the small cargo trailer around Utah Valley with ease.

For a mid-sized truck that may fit your needs better than you may have thought, the Honda Ridgeline should be on everyone’s list. Engineered and designed to fit a lifestyle, with options people may not even know they need, check it out. We had a great time in our week with the truck.

Base price: $36,490

Destination charge: $1,175

Price as driven: $39,685

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