When the Honda Ridgeline debuted for the 2006 model year, it was clearly the product of a company that didn’t have extensive experience in the pickup space. The Ridgeline featured some clever options, including an in-bed trunk with a drain plug, an exceptionally roomy crew cab interior thanks to its unibody construction, and a car-like ride and driving experience. The original Ridgeline did amass a small, but fiercely loyal, following. However, even in its best-selling year, the Ridgeline sold barely over 50,000 units, compared to the Toyota Tacoma’s 100k-plus yearly sales since its introduction. Honda is hoping to broaden the appeal of the 2017 Ridgeline with some upgrades that make it more truck-like, while retaining the carlike aspects that endeared it to its original buyers.
The basic formula for the Ridgeline remains fundamentally the same. It’s a transverse powertrain, unibody chassis, powered by a 3.5L direct-injected V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission (up from last year’s five-speed). For the first time, the Ridgeline will be offered in a front-wheel-drive configuration. Honda says it’s targeting best-in-class acceleration and fuel economy. Presumably this excludes diesel models. The two-wheel-drive Chevrolet Colorado V-6 is rated at 18 city and 26 highway. Official output figures for the new Ridgeline were not released. For context, the same engine in the Pilot SUV is rated at 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Honda is claiming a class-competitive payload of almost 1,600 pounds. Tow ratings for the new Ridgeline were not announced. For comparison, the Tacoma is rated up to 6,800 pounds and the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon V-6 up to 7,000 pounds. We expect the tow rating for the new Ridgeline to come in somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 pounds.
Among some of the updates on the 2017 model is a larger bed that is 5.4 inches wider and 4 inches longer than before and a full 4-foot width between the rear wheelwells to accommodate drywall or plywood (obviously with the tailgate down). More goodies to facilitate a party out back include an optional 400W AC power inverter to power blenders, TVs, or power tool charging, and the industry’s first in-bed audio system, utilizing flat-panel exciters rather than conventional cone-and-magnet speakers. Interestingly, based on photos, the bed appears to be a separate unit from the cab, which is a marked departure from the first-generation truck.
As with the original Ridgeline, Honda is claiming best-in-class interior room, with a 60/40-split rear seat cushion with room enough for a golf bag underneath. The seat bottoms also fold up to securely transport large and bulky items shielded from the elements. Other interior amenities include an available tri-zone climate control system and a 8-inch touchscreen audio display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Honda is also aiming for best-in-class safety ratings with available lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, and road departure warning. As with the current model and all 2016 Honda models, the 2017 Ridgeline will offer standard rearview camera. Honda’s popular Lane Watch camera will be optional. Honda promises the new Ridgeline will launch in the first half of 2016 and that it will be built at Honda’s Lincoln, Alabama, plant, along with the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX crossovers and Honda Odyssey minivan.