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What The Next-Generation Honda Ridgeline Mid-Size Pickup Desperately Needs

The 2019 Honda Ridgeline is due for upgrades and it’s coming. See what the mid-size pickup truck desperately needs now.


We aren’t trying to tell you what you want, but we are guessing there’s a large number of off-road enthusiasts who want a more rugged Honda Ridgeline. The 2019 Honda Ridgeline is not a best-seller for the brand and we think it could take a lesson from the segment leader, Toyota Tacoma. Honda does not offer the Ridgeline mid-size pickup in an off-road version like the Tacoma but they need to.

It would turn the new Ridgeline truck into a better performing model for the Japanese automaker. Toyota offers Tacoma in TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro for adventure enthusiasts, but Honda Ridgeline customers are not even offered a rugged trim. Honda offers the Ridgeline Sport but it’s nothing more than an appearance package.

2019 Honda Ridgeline Sport trim

Give the Ridgeline a true off-road package and the mid-size truck could compete well with the Tacoma. Currently, Ridgeline’s sales numbers are just over 1/10th of Tacoma sales and the mid-size truck market is one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. auto industry, and Honda needs to catch up. Getting real updates and unique upgrades could boost sales significantly.

The only rumors about the next-generation Ridgeline are that it will get a new ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. This transmission is already used in the Pilot and all-new Passport and Honda will use the new gearbox to increase fuel mileage.

2019 Honda Ridgeline

With Honda needing to make their total lineup more fuel-efficient, the third-generation Ridgeline could get a new hybrid or plug-in hybrid system. This could increase both power and torque improving its pulling power. The remodeled truck will likely move in this direction like the top-selling CR-V compact SUV.

The 2020 Honda Ridgeline will arrive with minor updates like getting Honda Sensing as standard, some minor exterior tweaks, new electronics and an updated infotainment system, and Honda’s next-generation passenger-side airbag. Don’t look for a new Ridgeline Off-Road version anytime soon like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro for adventure enthusiasts. It’s what many fans want and Honda desperately needs to build it.

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Photo credit: Honda USA


John R (not verified)    September 24, 2019 - 5:25AM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Yup, if it's more rugged, tougher, better real 4wd and can put more off road parts than the competition. I got an 06 Ridgeline but it's even hard to find Rims and tires to make it more rugged or look better. Go honda, you can built a better one.

Joe (not verified)    October 18, 2019 - 7:20PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

I own a 2013 RTL-Nav Ridgeline and love it. I also increased the clearance with 2" spacers and increased the tire size with 31" Michelins (265/60R18)...just this small raise and larger tires makes it look so much better. The new model really moved backwards in terms of its exterior design. Last time I was in the dealership for maintenance the sales guys were really admiring my 2013 and convinced their GM to raise 2 of their 2019s (2") and equip with larger tires. This really improved the otherwise boring look of the new model and these sold immediately. I'm sure Honda would sell many more Ridgeline's with just a more athletic look. The current model has lots of nice features and the interior was a great upgrade...but the Honda design team fell asleep with the exterior design. With larger flat side body panels the existing 18" wheels/tires look like training wheels.

Joe (not verified)    October 18, 2019 - 7:29PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Yes. I would also buy a more sporty and luxurious Acura version of the Ridgeline....larger/wider tires...more athletic look. Something more electrified and with a look a little more Mad Max like! Come on Honda...take a look at the Rivian or Tesla concept...get your design act together!!

Evan S Pinther (not verified)    September 23, 2019 - 8:34PM

Ridgeline needs push button shifting like the Pilot & better MPG.
Besides’s a Beautiful Truck.

LWB (not verified)    September 24, 2019 - 6:17AM

Offered in a package with better clearance, a more rugged suspension, and a more aggressive stance and styling? Yes. Throw in better mileage and increased towing capacity for icing. The current iteration is so far from this point, however, that it seems highly unlikely without yet another complete redesign.
Honda would have to first adopt a “me too” position and decide they want to complete with Toyota and Jeep on volume and possibly Subaru on the more niche outdoorsy buyer. To date, it’s pretty clear they’ve never really been worried about either of these buyers with the Ridgeline name.

The Ridgeline continues to feel like a science experiment to me. It tried to woo the construction worker with the first generation (remember the interior controls designed to be used with gloves on?) and then suburban homeowner dads with the second. Maybe the next generation, if there is one, will finally go after the leisure outdoors crowd. Then maybe learnings from the first three generations will lead to something that ticks all the boxes for most mid-sized truck buyers. I wonder if both Honda and the buying public will have the patience to wait that long.

Tanya R (not verified)    September 24, 2019 - 8:16AM

Sure would buy a genuine offroad Ridgeline. Make that and the back doors open to a wider angle and I'm there. Give me cooler color options and we need to be able to accessorize. I'd love that.

LWB (not verified)    September 25, 2019 - 12:10AM

In reply to by Tanya R (not verified)

You and me both. I’m a first gen owner who has owned other vehicles in between. Still have my 09 Ridgeline. I’m an older buyer but still wouldn’t buy another unless they came out with something along the lines of what you describe. Contrary to some views, I think that they could beat Toyota at their game. They just have to try.

Justin (not verified)    September 24, 2019 - 9:52AM

Disagreeing with a few things said in this piece.

1.ridgeline sales are not underperforming. They sell every vehicle they make and meet their own expectations. I've read they dont want to allocate manufacturing time away from pilots and odysseys which is one reason why they dont make a lot to begin with.

2. I get this is but the average ridgeline owner is just not going offroading. And if they invested heavily into a TRD style package and all the money to build that community, it still wouldnt perform as well as a yota in that space. So why bother? Could they benefit from toughening up the front end appearance? Yes. But you're basically asking why a Corolla SE cant handle like a Golf R. The ridgeline is the best choice for soccer dads and boomers, and they aren't going to substantially change that just because some want to look like they can offroad in it.

DaveE (not verified)    September 24, 2019 - 10:17AM

I've been waiting since 2016. I'm not going to wait beyond 2020. Rear doors and mileage were deal-breakers. Also want a hybrid and safety package in all trims too. Who would buy it on resale in 5 years without those? Looks aren't important but performance matters.

Ken E (not verified)    June 30, 2020 - 8:08PM

In reply to by DaveE (not verified)

What mileage are you concerned about? I usually get 30 to 31 mpg on the highway.
Overall economy is in the 23 to 24 mpg range.
And this is my second ridgeline. I had a 17 RTL-E and liked it so much i traded it for a 19.

Paul (not verified)    September 25, 2019 - 8:56AM

More POWER, TOWING, and rugged good looks!!! It's Honda's only truck, make the damn thing a truck!

Paul Kieffer (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 1:47PM

I own the 2017 Ridgeline. Bob is correct the rear doors are easy to fix yourself. Look it up on Youtube. Not sure why Honda doesn't correct the rear doors themself. The Ridgeline is super comfortable, quiet and gets 27 mpg on the highway. It's been a great truck to haul and trailer motorcycles. But, they do need to toughen up the look with air vents, etc. I would buy it in a R model that we keep getting teased about, but I doubt that will ever happen.

FgoTim (not verified)    October 2, 2019 - 12:32AM

I own a 2017 Ridgeline RTL-E and I'm definitely that suburban dad they were targeting. I haul home improvement stiff, furniture, and tow my pontoon. I have used the in bed power outlet to run my kids baseball pitching machine, and I've even used rhtt at outlet and the in-bed speakers for running a TV tailgating. It's a jackknife of a truck that rides more like a SUV. That said, it's not pretty and certainly not rugged. Also, the MPGs are horrible. I get 21 combined on average. If they offered a hybrid that still towed 5000 lbs and got 30mpg, I'd trade mine in immediately. They really should invest more in the truck. I think there's a huge market for midsize and even compact trucks that get great mileage and decent towing.

kurt (not verified)    October 2, 2019 - 3:42PM

I would buy it if they got rid of the VCM. I have a 2005 Odyssey and never liked the shudder it made when it kicked in.

Shane (not verified)    October 6, 2019 - 10:20PM

I’ve owned a ‘19 RTL-E for the past 11 months and would likely not buy into a ruggedized Ridgeline. Would probably just buy a Taco TRD Off-Road instead. The current Ridgeline checks all the right boxes for me. There are fixes or at least workarounds for most annoyances.

Josh (not verified)    October 10, 2019 - 3:01PM

This is actually really great info... I'm in the market for a truck and i'm a bit frustrated with current options. Up until rumors of a Ridgeline hybrid came out... I was really just waiting for news on the new hybrid F-150 or Tundra. I need something that can haul a mountain bike, some weekend warrior stuff...occasional furniture etc., No need for a heavy duty hauler or insane off road capabilities.

From the look of things, if the Ridgeline can improve the following in 2020, I'm in.

- Toughen up the front end
- Hybrid powertrain with 30+ MPG combined
- Locking Tailgate
- Improve the infotainment (larger screen, easier interface)
- Back doors seem to be an easy fix... I understand it can be corrected, but Honda should really just do that themselves
- Love the Black edition but not the red stitching - minor thing (i'm being picky at this point), but if they offer a Hybrid, maybe change the contrast color to blue or all black?

Paul (not verified)    January 4, 2020 - 9:57PM

I have a 2017 ridgeline and it is good for what I need. Hauls motorcycles in the bed or trailers, hauls leaves, logs, junk for the dump. Handles off-road fine, if I need to really go fast off road I’ll take a dirt bike and have more fun. Size is good for garage so you can open doors and fit in easier. Full size pickups are just too big. The infotainment system is the weakest point, needs dials for volume, bass, treble and balance. Needs easier method to save map locations and map system never understands what I say. Locking tailgate would be nice. There is a pungent glue smell in the trunk it has that never goes away. Nice to hear rear doors can be made to open wider. It doesn’t rust in the Minnesota winters where they use salt, unlike US trucks that always rust around wheel wells and other places. Handles great in snow with AWD system and even power slides around corners as if rear wheel drive. I like mine. Very comfortable and quiet ride. Would be nice if it had a tougher looking front end, but, I don’t see it when I drive. The engine works smooth and has plenty of power, I’ve pulled a large pontoon boat easily. 21 mpg in city and 27 mpg highway is fine by me and better than a big powerful truck mpg that I rarely need the power for. I don’t think I would pay much more for an off road version, it probably would be a rougher ride, but would pay a couple thousand more for items I listed for improvements. Hybrid would be nice if power was equal or better, hard to justify much more cost if gas price stays down. Maybe $5000 more. All electric would be interesting if range was 300 miles.