May 8, 2016 update to the Honda Ridgeline project car

Sneak Peek: 2017 Honda Ridgeline

We admit it: The Honda Ridgeline is a polarizing truck. Some dismiss it completely, proclaiming that its unibody structure banishes it from the world of “real” pickups. Meanwhile, Ridgeline owner loyalty is through the roof. For many it’s the right tool for the job: big enough for real-world loads yet easy to drive, park and maintain on a daily basis.

We’re Ridgeline owners ourselves, and throughout more than a decade and 200,000-plus miles of ownership, a question has lurked in our minds: Would Honda stick with this market and release Ridgeline Version 2.0, or was this just a one-time experiment?

We recently got our answer. Last week, Honda took the wraps off an all-new 2017 Ridgeline and invited us to sample it in and around San Antonio, Texas. Here are our findings.

First Impressions: It looks stunning—and much like a traditional pickup truck. No more awkward styling here. The high buttresses have been deleted, so loading the bed from the side should no longer be such a challenge.

Under the Skin: The Ridgeline still relies upon a unibody design. However, the body and cab are now separate structures that are then welded together. Honda explains that when it lowered the buttresses, the cab and bed could no longer employ a single stamping.

Sized Right: The new truck is roughly the same size as the previous model, yet its wheelbase has grown 3 inches. Weight is down nearly 50 pounds. The bed is longer than before, and at its narrowest point it’s 50 inches across—finally wide enough to hold a sheet of plywood. Plus, the it now has more tie-down hooks.

Push Me, Pull You: The unique two-way tailgate remains. It can swing down like a traditional tailgate or to the side—yes, like the one on your parents’ old Ford wagon.

Junk in the Trunk: The underbed trunk, another feature unique to the Ridgeline, returns. This time, though, it’s slightly larger.

More Power: Displacement remains 3.5 liters, but thanks to direct injection and other advances, horsepower is up from 250 to 280.

Less Fuel: Fuel economy is up, too. Our own Ridgeline regularly delivers mpg figures in the high teens, but the new one we drove during the press launch traveled 30 miles for every gallon at speeds of about 60 mph.

Interior Impressions: Wow, it’s really nice in there. The materials feel first-rate, and Honda outfitted it with everything today’s consumer demands. Need a bunch of cup holders? Bluetooth connectivity? The Ridgeline has them.

Folding Rear Seat: We love our Ridgeline’s fold-up rear seat and its ability to suddenly create a lockable, climate-controlled storage space. That feature returns.

Hauling and Towing: Honda says that payload capacity is up from 1500 pounds to 1587. The tow rating remains 5000 pounds, but we’re told that the new Ridgeline can handle that load more easily than before.

Driving It: We are in love. The new transmission shifts smoothly. The extra power is noticeable. Torquesteer is been dramatically reduced. What was already a quiet truck is now even quieter. At the same press launch, Honda offered us time behind the wheel of a Chevy Colorado and a Toyota Tacoma. Not only does the new Ridgeline trump the earlier version of itself, but it blows away the competition, too. Once we decide on a color, we’ll be placing our order.

For a full report, keep tabs on the upcoming August 2016 issue of Grassroots Motorsports magazine. If you’re not a subscriber, you can always subscribe right here.

Specs

Engine - 3.5-liter V6
Driveline - 6-speed automatic, available in FWD and AWD
Suspension - macpherson strut front, multi-link rear
Curb weight - 4242 lbs.
MSRP - starting at $26,475

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