2019 Honda Ridgeline Review

Ridgeline

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2019 Honda Ridgeline Overview

The Honda Ridgeline is one of the most unique offerings on the market. With one-of-a-kind features like speakers and a trunk/cooler right in the bed, a dual-action tailgate, and the largest cabin in the class, it stands out among the midsize truck segment. For 2019, Honda brings some fresh features to every trim in the lineup, making sure the Ridgeline stays practical as well as pioneering. The top three trim levels—RTL-T, RTL-E and Black Edition—now get a second 2.5A charging port. In addition, these three trims, as well as the RTL now get a standard power-sliding rear window and a moonroof. Those aren’t likely to convince customers who were dissuaded by 2018’s price bump, but the Ridgeline is already well equipped when compared to competition.

After eliminating the RTS trim last year, the Ridgeline is now left with six trim levels, including the special Black Edition. At an MSRP of $29,990, the Base RT comes with push-button start, 18-inch alloy wheels, a tow hitch, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a 5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity and a reversing camera. The Sport trim adds fog lights, body-color trim, keyless entry with remote start, tri-zone auto climate controls, and the HomeLink remote system to the package; the RTL gets leather and heated power front seats. Moving up to all-wheel drive (AWD) with the RTL means buyers will also gain an acoustic windshield and heated side mirrors.

Adding more technology to the RTL package, the RTL-T comes with an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, an upgraded 225-watt 7-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite, navigation, LED daytime running lights, and Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot camera system. The RTL-E concentrates more on safety with adaptive cruise with forward-collision warning and emergency braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic. Luxe extras include a sunroof, driver memory system, heated steering wheel, LED headlights, power-sliding rear window, and upgrades for the bed including LED lighting, a traditional 12-volt power outlet, and in-bed speakers. For added style, the Black Edition takes the RTL-E and adds black trim and black wheels to a black paint job, headliners and special black seats with red accents.

The Ridgeline started production for the 2006 model year with the first generation lasting until 2014. After a two-year break, it returned for its second generation in 2017 based on the Honda Pilot. This engineering heritage gives the Ridgeline several unique features for a pickup, namely unibody construction, a transversely-mounted V6 engine, a fully-independent suspension, and a front-wheel drive (FWD) biased AWD system. Many of these factors contribute to the Ridgeline’s class-leading fuel economy ratings of 19 city mpg, 26 highway, and 22 combined in FWD guise and 18, 25, and 21 for AWD.

Those are impressive figures for a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 280 horsepower, 262 pound-feet of torque with a 5000-lb towing capacity. The engine achieves those numbers thanks to features like direct-injection and cylinder deactivation. The Ridgeline still comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while many manufacturers are trotting out 8-, 9- and 10-speed units to improve fuel economy numbers.

With specs like those, the Ridgeline seems like the perfect alternative to a traditional pickup for anyone who doesn’t require V8 power. Still, there are some drawbacks. Most notably, Honda’s choice to locate the spare under the bed floor, meaning it can only be accessed if the bed is empty. Anyone who has had a spare stolen from underneath their truck will immediately see the benefit, but that’ll be erased if drivers catch a flat with a bed full of supplies and are faced with the reality of having to unload their haul on the side of the road before swapping wheels.

Likewise, the Ridgeline’s flat floor and car-like interior design makes for a much more comfortable experience than in most trucks -- but there’s a reason most truck controls are bigger and less complex than those in cars. The Ridgeline’s capacitive-touch infotainment system is frustrating to operate with work gloves.

The Ridgeline’s AWD system deviates from traditional truck territory. Labeled i-VTM4 for “Intelligent Variable Torque Management,” the system is capable of sending 100 percent of the power to the front wheels during normal operation, with torque only heading to the rear when things get slippery. If slipping happens during cornering, the system’s hydraulic clutch can send 100 percent of rear-wheel power to either the left or right with the added capability of spinning the outside wheel up to 2.7 percent faster to improve cornering. But, without dedicated low-range gear or solid axles, the Ridgeline will never be a trail-busting rock-crawler. Honda instead employs electronic safety systems like stability and traction control to improve handling and capability, trading overall off-road performance for the added on-road comfort that comes with a 4-wheel independent suspension and unibody construction.

Need to haul around up to 5000 lbs of cargo? The Ridgeline, with AWD, is more than adequate. Competitors may offer maximum towing capacities of up to 7000 lbs, but the Ridgeline’s added features, on-road poise, fuel economy, interior comfort, and space offset any shortcomings. For buyers looking for car comfort paired with pickup practicality, the 2019 Honda Ridgeline is hard to beat.

Updated

Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.

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