Honda's Ridgeline is a favorite of almost every vehicle reviewer who tests it. At least those who approach it with an open mind. We've tested the Ridgeline a few times, and have found it to have best-in-class comfort, ride quality, drivetrain satisfaction, and surprisingly, user-friendliness. Truck fans don't care. No matter how good the Ridgeline is, unless it is built on a century-old ladder frame it is discounted by that crowd. Shame.
Honda is never going to adopt an outdated design for two reasons. First, it is ridiculous to do so. Second, it would be cost-prohibitive. By sharing the platform with other vehicles Honda produces the best truck in its class by most measures, and does so profitably. What Honda can do is make it look tougher. At least a little.
The new '21 Ridgeline features all-new sheet metal from the front roof pillars forward. Changes include a new hood with a pronounced power bulge, and new front fenders that emphasize the squared-off nose and more upright grille. Th grill is flanked by LED headlights updated for better illumination. Atop the grille Honda added a crossbar that bisects the headlight lenses – gloss black on Sport trims and Black edition, chrome on RTL and RTL-E. A new front bumper highlights the new toughness of the updated Ridgeline’s design. New broadside vents route air through the bumper and around the front tires and wheels, creating air curtains to improve aerodynamic performance. The body color paint is also extended farther down the front bumper, and a more prominent skid plate emphasizes Ridgeline’s new look. In back, a reshaped rear bumper shows off aggressive new twin exhaust outlets.
All trims get tougher-looking 18-inch wheels lending the Ridgeline a broader, more planted stance, bolstered by all-season tires with a more aggressive sidewall and shoulder design.
A new Honda Performance Development (HPD) Package adds a unique grille treatment. The HPD adds black fender flares, aggressive bronze-colored wheels, and special HPD graphics on the bed walls. HPD is one of four new PPO packages that include Utility, Function and Function+ packages.
Art St. Cyr, vice president of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Co., Inc., said in a press release, “Truck enthusiasts have long recognized Ridgeline as an incredibly versatile and capable pickup, and now it’s got the rugged looks to match. The Ridgeline signals a new direction for our light-truck designs, one that more effectively communicates all the hard work that goes into making Honda pickups and SUVs such proficient on- and off-road performers.”
We have to disagree with Art St. Cyr on his commentary. Truck enthusiasts discount the Ridgeline as a "Pilot with a bed." As if that is a bad thing! It is non-truck enthusiasts who have long appreciated the Ridgeline. It is our understanding that Honda builds and sells as many Ridgelines as it choooses to on its shared production line. We hope that the new deisgn captures a few more truck buyer opportunities for Honda, but it would be shocking to us if "truck enthusiasts" found this new style change more than something to giggle about. If it's not a diesel with front and rear locking differentials, truck enthusiasts are not impressed. Unless maybe it's a Raptor. It's their loss.
The Honda Ridgeline is one of the industry's most made-in America vehicles. It is manufactured by Americans along with its V6 engine at the Honda plant in Lincoln, Alabama. Look for the updated Ridgeline at dealers in early 2021.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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