2024 Honda Ridgeline

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Not everyone needs a truck – but it can be handy to have a bed, to haul stuff that won’t fit inside (and that might otherwise make a mess, inside). That’s the idea behind Honda’s Ridgeline. It looks like a truck – and you can use it like a truck – but it’s not really a truck.

And that’s the essence of its appeal.

What It Is

The Ridgeline looks like a mid-sized, crew cab pick-up with a short (five foot) bed. In fact, it’s a Honda Pilot – which is a crossover – modified to look like a mid-sized truck. And provide similar utility.

Instead of three rows and room for seven, room for five – and room (in the bed) for a stack of cement bags or a motorcycle. There’s also room under the bed – which is not something you’ll find under the beds of other mid-sized trucks such as the Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. The reason being they have truck-type underthings back there, such as beefier rear suspensions and a bigger rear axle, being predominantly rear-wheel-drive. They offer four-wheel-drive, but it is meant to be engaged only when there’s snow on the pavement – or the vehicle is driven off the pavement.

The Ridgeline – like the Pilot – is predominantly front-wheel-drive; most of its power goes most of the time to the front wheels. When these begin to lose grip, power is automatically routed via the standard all-wheel-drive system to the rears, as needed.

This is meant to be used on-road, when the road is wet or otherwise slick – and also gives the Ridgeline some off-road capability, too.

The Ridge also still comes standard with a V6, which a growing number of current-model-year mid-sized trucks – including the just-redesigned Tacoma as well as the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger – no longer even offer.

Prices start at $39,750 for the base Sport trim, which comes with 18 inch wheels, a class III hitch and seven pin connector and a max tow rating of 5,000 lbs. – which is not quite as much as some of the currently available mid-sized trucks but not far-off what they’re rated to tow, either.

The $44,980 TrailSport – new for this model year –  offers more truck-like off-pavement capability via underbody skid plates, off-road suspension tuning and a set of General Grabber all-terrain tires.

You can add an oil pan guard and fender flares and black-anodized wheels by choosing the Honda Performance Development package.

A top-of-the-line Black Edition – which stickers for $46,350 – adds power outlets in the bed, heated rear seats, special black leather seats with red accents and an upgraded audio system.

What’s New for 2024

In addition to the new TrailSport trim, every Ridgeline trim gets a revised center console with more storage capacity and a new digital display instrument cluster.

What’s Good

In some ways – such as its standard V6 – the Ridgeline is more of a traditional truck than four-cylinder-only mid-sized trucks such as the Tacoma, Canyon and Ranger.

Bed isn’t just there – it’s there twice.

Drives more like a Pilot than a truck.

What’s Not So Good

Like other currently available mid-sized trucks, there’s only the crew cab/short bed configuration.

Not as heavy-duty as trucks that are built to be trucks.

Much more expensive than mid-sized trucks such as the Colorado ($29,500 to start), Tacoma ($31,500 to start) and Ranger ($32,650 to start).

Under the Hood

All Ridgeline trims come standard with a V6 – which is a type of engine you can no longer get in a Toyota Tacoma or a Ford Ranger or a Chevy Canyon. The latter all come standard – and only – with four cylinder engines. That’s interesting, because they are mid-sized trucks and it used to be expected that trucks that size at least offered a V6.

They don’t anymore.

The reason why – as readers of this column already know – isn’t because buyers of mid-sized trucks prefer small engines. It is because it has become much harder to offer them – even in mid-sized trucks.

Even optionally.

The reason for that being regulatory compliance – chiefly with federal fuel economy “fleet average” requirements. The individual MPG difference – a four vs. a V6 – isn’t that much (more on the in a moment) but when factored out over a manufacturer’s fleet, the average gets pulled down and that results in costs imposed by the government for non-compliance. It’s especially hard on manufacturers – like Ford and Toyota – that sell lots of vehicles that don’t meet the MPG minimum (e.g., models like the popular but “gas guzzling” F-series trucks in the case of Ford and the similarly “gas guzzling” Tundra in the case of Toyota).

Honda can still “get away” with offering a standard V6 in the Ridgeline because almost all of its other vehicles – which don’t use much gas because most of them have four cylinder engines already – offset the drag of a model like the Ridgeline.

But it’s very likely on borrowed time. The cost of compliance is going up – so much so that it is rapidly becoming effectively impossible for any manufacturer to offer a V6 in anything other than a very few models. It is why Toyota’s Camry no longer offers a V6, as a for-instance. And more (that is, less) to come.

But – for now – the Ridgeline still comes standard with a 3.5 liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower, paired with a nine speed automatic and the all-wheel-drive system previously mentioned.

This package delivers 18 MPG in city driving and 24 MPG on the highway.

Interestingly – and getting back to this business about gas mileage uber alles – the V6 Honda’s mileage is about the same as the mileage delivered by the new, four-cylinder-only Toyota Tacoma. With the standard version of this engine – a 2.4 liter turbocharged four – the Taco rates 20 city, 26 highway. If you can tell the difference, you are like the little princess in the story who could feel the pea placed on the mattress onto which a number of other mattresses were stacked. This version of the new Taco’s 2.4 liter engine makes just 228 horsepower – and so equipped, the new Taco can only pull 3,500 lbs. Which is the same as most compact-sized trucks (with four engines) made 20 years ago could pull.

The Ridge can pull 5,000 lbs.

Toyota does offer a more powerful version of the 2.4 liter engine that makes 278 horsepower – another difference without much distinction. And with this engine, a 4WD equipped Taco’s mileage drops to 20 city, 23 highway. But this version of the Toyota can pull up to 6,400 lbs.

It’s a similar story as regards the Ranger – which has a 270 horsepower turbocharged four that’s rated 21 city, 25 highway. The Ranger can also pull up to 7,500 lbs. – very close to what a full-size truck can pull.

But the take home point is that there’s not much gas to be saved by going with a turbo four over an appropriately sized (for a vehicle this size) V6. And you may well save a lot of money by going with an understressed V6 that doesn’t need to be constantly boosted to make power; especially a V6 like this one. It’s the same V6 that you used to be able to get in the Accord – and so equipped – those things routinely ran without incident for 200,000 miles and more. Probably – at least on part – because they weren’t turbocharged and so weren’t almost constantly under the pressure of boost.

On The Road

Trucks are handy vehicles, useful and versatile in ways that cars – and crossovers – aren’t and can’t be. If you disagree, try hauling a full-sized refrigerator home inside a crossover. It’s no problem for the Ridgeline – even though it’s not like other trucks.

And that’s a desirable thing – for people who love the idea of having the usefulness of a bed (and the ability to pull 5,000 lbs. behind it) but who prefer the ride and handling characteristics of a crossover. This is the combo that has made the Ridgeline one of Honda’s best-selling models; it’s the perfect vehicle for the buyer who likes the Pilot but really likes the idea of a Pilot with a bed.

And without a massive nose.

One seemingly designed to be as bulbous and angry-looking as possible.

The Ridgeline’s front end is neither as protuberant nor as tall as the schnozzes that seem to be the in-thing in truck styling. The result is you can see ahead of you much better and there is literally less ahead of you – which makes the Ridgeline easier to pull forward and maneuver in tight spaces without bumping it into things.

The V6 is also something to really like – now that engines of this type have not only become uncommon but unavailable in “real” trucks like the Tacoma, Ranger and Colorado/Canyon twins. Why? Because it’s not all about the horsepower – though that’s important, of course. And the Honda 3.5 liter V6 makes almost as much as the most powerful/optional versions of the turbo fours in those rivals.

It’s also about the sound.

Which isn’t artificially “augmented,” because it isn’t necessary to pipe bigger-engine sounds into the passenger compartment to convey the impression there’s more under the hood than just a four. This particular V6 is also famously smooth – and revvy – a combination that (once upon a better time) made the Accord – with the same V6 – one of the most appealing sporty sedans on the market. If you look at the Ridgeline like a bigger, roomier Accord that can carry your dirt bikes to the trailhead you’ll be on the right track.

At The Curb

Though it’s classified as mid-sized, that’s only because today’s full-sized pick-ups have swelled to super-sized. The Ridgeline – which is 210.2 inches long – is longer than a ’90s-era 1500 regular cab pick-up with an eight foot bed. But it’s not as wide – nor as tall – and these make it much less ponderous to deal with, especially as regards getting things in (and out) of the five-foot, four-inch bed. The walls of the Honda’s bed are not like the walls of Jericho. You do not need a trumpet – or a step-ladder, like the ones built into the tailgates of other trucks.

The Honda sits low enough that a person of average height can access the bed without difficulty and that makes the bed much more everyday useful than one that’s so jacked-up you can’t get things in (and out) without a forklift.

Especially appealing – and unusual, in a truck – is the extra bed that’s under the floor of the main one. It’s basically a big tub that can be used to store things out of the weather (and out of sight) that can also be used to keep a case of beer chilled – and then drained when you’re done tailgating, via the drain plug built into the bottom. This second storage area is also where you’ll find the spare tire and jacking equipment. It’s not a full-sized spare. But it’s a lot easier to get at when you need a spare than the under-the-bed full-size spares many trucks have, that require getting down on the ground to get them out from under the bed.

The interior of the Ridgeline is similarly non-obstreperous. The dash is low rather than high. The layout isn’t cluttered. The center console has a low-profile, push-button-style gear selector (similar to the one used in the Accord) that does away with the pretense of a grab-handle shifter lever that’s just as electronic as the push-button layout but without the space-robbing element.

Every Ridgeline, irrespective of trim, is a crew cab, with four full-sized doors that make it just as easy for passengers to get in (and out) of the rear seats as the front seats. And easier than getting in (and out) of other trucks, which are higher up and need things like running boards and grab handles to climb aboard.

The bed is long enough to allow the Ridgeline to carry a pair of motorcycles back there and it’s easier to get the bikes on (and off).

Interestingly, the new TrailSport trim does not ride higher off-the ground than other Ridgeline trims, all of which have 7.6 inches of clearance. It’s the all-terrain tires that endow this version of the Ridgeline with more bad-weather (and light-off-road) tenacity.

The Rest

It’s likely the Ridgeline will get a major makeover for the 2025 model year – which is almost already here. And it’s not unlikely that when Honda reboots the Ridgeline, it won’t come standard with a V6 anymore or even offer one – for the same compliance reasons that you can’t get a V6 Accord anymore, already.

The Bottom Line

It’s not exactly a truck, but that’s precisely the appeal.

. . .

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Eric,

    Toyota’s new Land Cruiser 250 also comes standard with 2.8 L turbos maximum. Did you ever do a review of it, by the way? It’s rather a radical design change, IMHO.

    https://global.toyota/en/newsroom/toyota/39526684.html

    Meanwhile, Toyota’s market cap has doubled since Koji Sato took over as CEO from Akio Toyoda 1 year ago. Supposedly it’s all due to Toyota’s new strategy fully embracing the EVs. Look at them happily riding in an EV together.

    https://youtu.be/ImQmf1SZXas?t=56

    Mr. Toyoda knew full well what he was doing when he stepped aside. He knew that you can’t fight the big money that actually owns his company. It was a smart move on his side, but a sell-out on all of us. So file it under “insanity continues” or “shills”.

    Using Google Translate from this article (couldn’t find an English language version for you):
    https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXZQOFD1879U0Y4A310C2000000/

    “April 1 marks one year since Toyota Motor Corporation President Koji Sato took office. Since taking over as president from Chairman Akio Toyoda, the company has accelerated the development of electric vehicles (EVs). Its market capitalization has doubled in the past year to approximately 60 trillion yen, making it the fastest growing car manufacturer in the world and closing in on Tesla.”

  2. Have a Bud with one that puts 2 dirtbikes in the back, but it looks nothing like your pic of the same. That’s a ‘sales’ pic.
    In his case the back is stuffed with dirtbike stuff like a ramp, 2 bike stands, etc…. maybe a small ez-up, etc…
    One of his gear bags goes under the bed but has to be stuffed, and the other gear bag goes in the back seat. Not sure if two full size gear bags would fit in the back seat or not.
    He makes it work, but it’s not pretty. Takes him a lot longer to load and unload than with larger trucks.
    Otherwise I like it, Honda did a nice job with it, just not for me.

  3. Eric,

    What’s depressing is that V6es are going the way of the Dodo! I did some searching around on luxury cars’ websites; I visited the MB, BMW, Genesis, Acura and Audi pages. I also visited VW and Toyota’s pages. What I found was this: you have to spend at least $50K to even GET a V6 now! That’s OUTRAGEOUS! V8s are all but extinct now; there are only a handful of cars where they’re even available, such as MB’s S Class or BMW’s 7 series and higher.

    VW had the least expensive option with their Arteon, which starts in the low 40s; of course, you have to get the more expensive trim to get the V6, but at least you can get one for about $50K. Toyota only offers one car with a V6, the GR86 Supra; that starts around $46.5K. On the luxury brands’ websites, one had to spend some serious coin to get a V6; we’re talking $60K or more. What’s a travesty is that the “base” version of the MB S Class only comes with a V6! WTF? We’re talking about a car that RETAILS FOR OVER $100K! You can get a V8, but you have to spend well into the six figures to get even that.

    I’m retired and wish to stay that way, so I don’t see myself being able to afford a car with a V8; even if I could afford to buy one, I couldn’t afford to feed its appetite for fuel. That said, I wish that they were still available and would remain so, so as to retain freedom of choice. I’d also like to have something to aspire to; it would be nice to have something that’s both nice and attainable. FUCKING GOV’T! Sorry about the language, but nothing else can accurately encapsulate my sentiments.

    • Re: cylinder quantities.
      I listened to what appeared to be a pretty smart engine designer, don’t remember who it was.
      What shocked me was that he said, ‘we are fighting the insurmountable unburnt gases between the upper piston ring and the top of the piston and the continuous advancement of emission regs. So in a v8 we have X amount of area that can’t be burnt. It is very small relative to the size of the engine, but this is why we are being forced to go v8 to v6 and v6 to 4, etc….’
      And I will add from 4 to 2 in motorcycles. As Eric always says ‘for fractions of a fraction’
      They are regulating our engines away…………..period.

      • Yeah, many of the new bikes are parallel twins now; they’re almost ubiquitous! Two cylinder engines are a good size for a bike, so they’ve always been popular. They provide good, economical power in a small package. However, many of those engines were V twins. There were also the flat, opposed twins, aka the Boxers, on BMW bikes. Twins have been a part of motorcycles since the beginning.

        At least you can still get three and four, and six cylinder bikes! These machines haven’t been regulated out of existence. They’ve fallen out of favor with the riding public because, like cars, bikes have become expensive. Have you priced a Goldwing or a BMW K 1600 touring bike recently? You’re flirting with $30K; few people can justify that kind of money for a bike.

        Also, bike engines are so good now; a modern parallel twin develops almost as much power as a four cylinder bike used to back in the day. THe first superbike, Kawasaki’s 900 Z1, had 85 horsepower, whereas a modern Yamaha MT 07 has 73 ponies. Yamaha’s MT-09 or Triumph’s modern triples are sweet engines that’ll easily crank out 100+ hp; again, that’s more than the 900 Z1 had. Thanks to modern motorcycle engines being so good, a big engine is often superfluous.

        Finally, how often can you really USE a liter bike’s power? A modern liter bike will easily crank out 200 horsepower IN STOCK FORM; that’s incredible! That’s more power than Eddie Lawson had on his specially prepared race bikes; plus, he raced with a 120 rear tire! I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not a good enough or skilled enough rider to handle that kind of power. Even if a rider has the skill and ability to handle 200 hp, where, when, and how can he make use of it? Plus, liter bikes are pushing $20K, which is hard to justify for a two wheeler. That’s not considering insurance, which will be high.

        No, the bike market is changing. Many of us are discovering the joys of smaller, simpler, more modest, and more affordable bikes; we’re realizing that we don’t have to pay car prices for a bike. Many of us simply cannot afford big, powerful, and expensive bikes. Hence, you’ll see fewer four and six cylinder bikes as time goes on.

        I think one reason why P twins are so popular now is that they cost a lot less to produce vs. a V2. You only have one cylinder casting, not two; you only have one valve train, not two; and so on. With a 270 degree crank, you can pretty well replicate the feel, character, and power delivery of a 90 degree V2, so why not?

        In closing, you can still get four and six cylinder bikes; they’re still available. However, they come with huge price tags; they’re priced similarly to a modern Toyota Camry or Mazda6, and they don’t offer protection from the elements or the carrying capacity that the car does. Therefore, I think that smaller, more affordable middleweight bikes will become more popular.

        • Agree, I just went from a 790 twin to a 400 single, haha….
          I will eventually get another mid-weight twin, just don’t need it this year yet.
          Still have my big boy 1250 twin, but that’s for a different purpose, mostly 2-up reasons.

  4. Has Honda figured out how to run cylinder deactivation and not consume oil? When I was looking at them in 2016, first year of this design, that was the dealbreaker for me. I read of issues on the various car forums and most people weren’t happy with Honda’s response of “a quart of oil every time you fill the tank isn’t considered excessive.”

    Besides that, a common problem with the Pilot and Ridgeline was failure of the active engine mounts that would help null out the vibration from running a V6 with 3 deactivated cylinders. Kind of like trying to smooth out a paint shaker, I imagine.

    • Our 2011 Honda Pilot has the V6 with cylinder deactivation. It’s on 200,000 miles now. Never a problem with oil consumption. I can’t tell when the cylinder deactivation happens except for a ECO light that comes on on the dash.

      Maybe the design changed over the course of the next few years?

  5. The in bed storage is a great idea.

    This type of truck is what 80% of truck owners actually need. They hardly tow anything and don’t dump yards of mulch, dirt or stone in the bed.

    This would be better suited as a daily driver.

    • You are right on the money. I have a 2018 F-150 sitting outside my window that I rarely use as a truck anymore! When I got it I was hauling skids and towing a big trailer. Now it’s mostly me driving around alone (or with my wife and dog) not being able to fit in parking spaces!

      One of the dudes on my hockey team has one and I’ve driven/ridden in it. Very nice for what it is. And obviously the built in beer cooler is hilarious!

      I probably won’t get one but I sure get why they exist.

      • Hi Yeti,

        The Ridge can tow more than my ’02 Frontier pick-up and the bed’s more functional. I just wish they could make something like this without all the “technology.”

        • No offense but I wouldn’t tow their stated limit anymore than 1-2 times a year. Been there done that with FWD based cars. Lots of transmissions later.

  6. If you buy a pickup…at least get one with a bed that a small camper will fit into….so it can serve 2 purposes….

    As an option for when rents get a lot higher, or just to disappear into the wilderness…..

  7. ‘Prices start at $39,750 for the base Sport trim.’ — eric

    Rather pricey compared to the Ford Maverick, with an alleged base price of $23,815 (if available).

    Granted, the Maverick doesn’t have or offer a V6. But it’s much cheaper for those who just want a 5.5-foot bed.

    For me, the deal killer on both is the automatic transmission with 8 speeds in the Maverick and 9 speeds in the Ridgeline. These ‘CAFE compliance’ transmissions with superfluous gears are overly complex and won’t last as long as the engine.

    • ‘A proposed class action alleges the nine-speed automatic transmission found in some Honda Pilot, Odyssey, Passport and Ridgeline vehicles suffers from a programming defect that can cause rough or delayed shifting, among other serious safety concerns.

      ‘The 55-page complaint says that the apparent defect plaguing the ZF 9HP transmission in 2016-2022 Honda Pilot, 2018-2019 Honda Odyssey, 2019-present Honda Passport and 2020-present Honda Ridgeline vehicles can produce rough and delayed shifting; loud noises during shifting; sudden, harsh accelerations and decelerations; and a sudden loss of power.’

      https://tinyurl.com/52p7by4r

      Par for the course. I hate frickin’ slushboxes.

  8. A 5 foot bed is enough to throw a couple of beer cans. That’s about it. No thanks. 8 foot or I’m never going to own a truck. I’ll just borrow or rent one when I need it.

  9. I gained an initial bad impression of the Ridgeline years ago. When one pulled up on the jobsite, and the driver said “take a look at my new truck”, which I did, and concluded, and told him, “this is not a truck. It is unibody. it’s a car with a bed.”

  10. I remember thinking when the Chevy Avalanche came out, how it was the silliest thing since the Subaru Brat. Now all the sudden it looks like a must have for suburbia men.

  11. From what I can see it doesn’t hurt your eyes just looking at it; an added bonus is a smaller touch screen. It fills the niche the Ford Ranchero or a station wagon once did. I’m just curious that they did not offer a 2.5 liter non turbo 4 cylinder but that’s probably because the fuel economy difference would have been negligible. It’s probably a good all around choice for a one vehicle family especially if you get a locking bed cover.

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