Ridgeline is ideal for non-pickup crowd

SHARE Ridgeline is ideal for non-pickup crowd
SHARE Ridgeline is ideal for non-pickup crowd

The first-generation Honda Ridgeline earned Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award in 2006. It was an oddity, to say the least, but it found a niche. I learned to love it after testing it out a few years in a row. The 2017 Ridgeline is less quirky but delivers pickup performance and space with some extra-fun features for the professional and in-training tailgater.

While the Ridgeline is not cheap (with a base of $29,475) or particularly efficient (18 mpg city/25 highway/21 combined), it is at the head of the segment in terms of ride quality and handling. My take on it is: it’s the pickup for the un-pickup customer.

The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is built on Honda’s updated global light truck platform and shares a significant portion of its fundamental structure and mechanical components with the Pilot. All the greatness of the previous Ridgeline returns — especially the tow/haul capacity, under-bed trunk and rugged interior design. Look for a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link setup in the rear. While the core architecture is unibody, the chassis is totally muscled up.

The 2017 Ridgeline offers a boxy rear that really contrasts with the sleek front-end lines. Overall, it’s a distinctive look like no other — and a lot of people want to be different.

A 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with the option of either all- or front-wheel drive.

Ridgeline offers one bed length (64 inches) and one cab size (crew). Front-wheel-drive models can tow 3,500 pounds, and all-wheel drive allows up to 5,000 pounds. The only somewhat variable figure is the payload capacity, which fluctuates slightly depending on the Ridgeline’s equipment level.

Inside the cabin, you have good comfort and predictable surroundings that are made up of soft-touch surfaces and very little hard plastic. I dislike the smallish knobs on the dash audio controls, but that’s always an issue for me.

Ridgeline’s rear seats are even better than sibling Pilot’s second-row offerings. Back seats flip up to offer access to a full-width storage area that is partitioned off from the rest of the rear floor. This row-two spot is a space for storing things that you don’t want bouncing around. There’s enough clearance under the seat bottoms that larger items can easily slide in and out.

Honda’s Truck Bed Audio System, standard on RTL-E and Black Edition models, pumps out quality audio from six 10-watt audio speakers built into the bed’s fender rails. A standard household outlet in the bed delivers up to 400 watts of juice — enough, Honda says, to power a flat-screen television.

The Ridgeline has its drawbacks, especially when you compare it to the standard pickup crowd. However, I would argue this pickup was built, not for those who want typical pickup features, but for something that sets them apart from a very crowded field. That’s Ridgeline: the un-pickup pickup.

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