Sunday, September 19, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021

Truck Review: 2021 Honda Ridgeline could be last

Seventeen years ago, Honda introduced the Ridgeline to challenge the mainstream pickup truck empire. The Ridgeline was something. It had the industry’s first lockable in-bed storage trunk. It had a fully independent suspension. The truck’s dual-action tailgate could be opened to the side or down.

The 2006 Honda Ridgeline (the debuting model made in Canada as early as March 2005) also had an unusual exterior design. It had a unibody frame. It had a 3.5-liter V6 transverse-mounted engine, a five-speed automatic transmission and 247 horsepower. Its towing capacity was (and remains) 5,000 pounds.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline has a bling-oriented exterior package to attract younger buyers.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline has a bling-oriented exterior package to attract younger buyers.

Accolades arrived quickly, including the Ridgeline’s selection as Motor Trend’s 2006 Truck of the Year. It was also named Car and Driver’s top midsize truck for 2006. The Ridgeline combined truck capabilities with a car-quality ride. It became a purchase for those who had a need but didn’t want to own a truck.

In its debut model year, sales of the Honda Ridgeline slightly surpassed 50,000 in the United States. It was the truck’s best-selling year but it was still about one-tenth the volume of the top-selling counterparts from Ford and Chevrolet.

Not much of a startling change has occurred with the Ridgeline since. Its innovation, however refreshing, has waned. The truck was last redesigned in 2017. The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is more focused on exterior change to attract young buyers. New designs for the hood, face, dual exhaust system, fenders and bumper cover detail the makeover.

Honda also now features a Honda Performance Development (HPD) Appearance Package. It’s attention-grabbing and money-heavy bling – a stylized grille, black fender flares and bronze alloy wheels. An HPD emblem and decals are added as a post-production $2,800 option.

Sales of the Honda Ridgeline have tumbled in recent years.
Sales of the Honda Ridgeline have tumbled in recent years.

The rest of the 2021 Honda Ridgeline, available in four trims, remains the same as the 2020 model. And it’s destined to the same fate as the truck’s recent year decline. In the pandemic-affected 2020 sales year, the Ridgeline’s total was 32,168. Sales in 2019 were 33,334.

From its original specs, the current Ridgeline has improved, but not dramatically. It’s now offered with a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 with a nine-speed automatic transmission and only in all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive has been discontinued. Acceleration from 0-60 miles per hour takes 7.2 seconds. Gas mileage averages are 18 mpg in city driving, 24 mph on the highway.

2021 Honda Ridgeline: A mystery truck

With its unique styling, car-like qualities and value-pricing, a Ridgeline success story seemed logical. But the truck hasn’t revisited its early success. It’s simultaneously a mystery and easy to fathom why.

Consider the value. The base Sport trim includes: LED headlights, proximity entry and push-button ignition, automatic tri-zone climate control, 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a seven-speaker sound system.

Safety features bundled in the Honda Sensing Safety Suite include adaptive cruise control. It adjusts speed to maintain a constant distance between the vehicle and the car in front. It has lane-keeping assist.

It steers the truck back into the proper lane if it drifts over the lane marker. And it has forward collision mitigation. It warns the driver of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios.

The MSRP is $36,490. Its price as tested is $40,860, slightly below the new vehicle price average.

Still, the Ridgeline has had repeated recall problems – from fuel pump failure to rust issues, extreme oil consumption to electric system malfunctions.

It’s difficult to consider any Honda vehicle a failure. The carmaker’s diverse lineup includes some of the most enduring and top-selling vehicles in history.

But like the Honda Fit, the Ridgeline may have run its course. The Fit was highly rated and it may hold the unofficial title of Best of Design Efficiency. But when sales fell, the Fit was gone.

The Ridgeline has distinguished itself as something different among the long-time pickup truck leaders. But it isn’t enough. With its stumbling sales, the Ridgeline is destined for termination.

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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George Niles
7 days ago

Honda is coming up with the TrailSport version which is more rugged with off-road capability next year. The author is totally treadless. 🙁

BTW, I love my 2020 Ridgeline and I tow 19′ TT double axle with no issues.

Last edited 7 days ago by George Niles
Daniel Stinson
10 days ago

Weren’t Ridgeline sales up 70% prior to the production shortages related to COVID occurred?

Frank
10 days ago

Lol this article is a joke. Completely unsupported opinion. The author presents zero evidence to back his theory.

And Honda just announced the trail sport series, which almost certainly will involve the Ridgeline, especially with beefier suspension upgrades

Donald N Wright
12 days ago

It is a nicely designed, over priced little truck. They go well with popups and small trailers, and I have seen one with a small double axle fifth wheel. Many are concerned with no frame.
Maybe Tony should drive one and give us his opinion.

Andy Reid
13 days ago

Lol stumbling sells? I just read this article for fun and see what truck lovers have to say. The writer is clueless, enough said. And of course the Ridgeline aren’t meant to haul anything people think Honda is stupid? The Ridgeline target different group of riders. Why do you think Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick are making an entrance in 2022?

Gary
13 days ago

I just wish it was towable.
First it was ugly, then it wasn’t, and now it is again. That new model is hideous. Typical Japanese styling. I’m still glad it hasn’t been discontinued though.

Bob M
13 days ago

I had a Honda Ridgeline and loved it. Only bad thing was I needed more than 5000 lb towing capacity and traded it for a Silverado. If the gas mileage gauge was right I got about 31 miles per gallon on highway. Handled good in the snow. Liked the trunk to store stuff.

RallyAce
13 days ago

We gave the Ridgeline serious consideration when purchasing a vehicle 18 months ago. We ended up with a Honda Pilot as we did not like the locking compartment to be in the floor of the bed where you would have to unload everything to get to it, the towing capacity is the same as the Pilot (the 5,000 lb capacity is only with the optional towing package), and the Pilot has additional seating. A $750 small utility trailer from Home Depot made up for the loss of the bed and the comfort and passenger space gained was well worth it.

Jon N
13 days ago

I read the end of this article.

It’s so full of it. I sell Hondas and I have production dates for ’22 MY.

The just refreshed the truck and sales are only held back by a shortage on microchips. It’s successful with some dealers marking it up over MSRP.

The truck has influenced the market enough so that you have Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick on the way.

I frequently trade on Tacomas for the truck from people who just are not comfortable getting in and out of it and prefer something with the comfort of an SUV but utility of a light duty truck.

This article is only speculating and doing so only for clicks. It’s simply untrue.

Only a smidge of research would show this. I would be embarrassed to attach my name to this article and this website should be ashamed.

Okay I’m done.

Bob p
13 days ago

What did they expect? It couldn’t haul anything, except a few bags of mulch, it couldn’t tow anything except a small utility trailer. It was based off of the SUV, so you may as well buy the SUV for the extra enclosed cargo area and the small utility trailer. The FWD version would get stuck in wet grass with a load in the bed(if they would’ve asked VW about this with their Rabbit truck) it was a suburbanite vehicle for people who wanted a truck for the bragging rights but didn’t need a truck. I test drove one in FL a couple years ago, upon returning to the dealership we passed by a Nissan Frontier in their used car lot, I said I’d like to drive that. Two years later we own a 2018 Frontier and love it.

Dedvw
11 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

Bob, sorry to say but you don’t know what your talking about. I currently own a Ridgeline for personal and an F250 for work (I also drive 69000lb Kenworths at work). I’ve had 2000lbs of railroad ties in the bed of my Ridgeline and hauled a 6500lb excavator and heavy dual axel trailer multiple times with ease. I know this is going to sound crazy but the Ridgeline actually pulls better than my F250 onto the highway. I’m totally impressed with what the truck has accomplished. It’s a classic case of Honda over engineering. FYI, I don’t use my work vehicles because I’m not allowed for personal use.

Therese
13 days ago

My husband and I purchased a 2020 Ridgeline to give us a little hauling and towing capacity when we need it, and a comfortable ride when our electric SMART car couldn’t travel the necessary distance. I wouldn’t expect anyone who uses a truck as a work vehicle to purchase a Ridgeline. It’s just not that type of vehicle. I’m sad to hear that Honda may stop production of it.

tom
13 days ago

Ridgeline started out not being able to do any real work, tow capacity is a joke. I have not seen many, if any, Ridgelines being used by professionals who need the capacity of a real work truck.

John
12 days ago
Reply to  tom

It was never designed to be a “real” truck. Honda knew they would never compete in that market. But when the majority of people tow less than 5,000lbs it was a good fit. If you want a real truck you would buy a Ford or GM etc. Honda won’t stop making these.

Frank
10 days ago
Reply to  tom

This has got to be one of the stupidest arguments I’ve ever seen. It’s like arguing that you don’t see race car drivers with Honda pilots. Well no crap, because it’s not intended for racing.

The Ridgeline was never intended as a work truck, and it’s never once been marketed as such. In fact it’s been marketed as the opposite.
[rude comment bleeped by Diane]

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