Honda is hoping third time’s the charm for its fledgling pickup, the Ridgeline. For the 2021 model year, it earns new truck-like duds to accompany its innovative bed and slew of interior upgrades.
Chief among the changes is a front end and profile that may actually earn a bit of respect from fellow truck owners.
Ridgeline has had a lot of sand kicked in its face over the years (and your author has admittedly done his fair share of the kicking) from shoppers who felt the vehicle’s appearance had far too much in common with the Pilot SUV and, worse, the Odyssey minivan. Oh, the horror.
The 2021 Ridgeline features all-new sheet metal fore of the A-pillars. Design changes include a new hood sporting a pronounced power bulge (insert crude jokes here) and new front fenders that emphasize the squared-off nose and upright grille. That maw is bookended by LED headlights and sits atop broad side vents that route air through the bumper for aerodynamic purposes.
A unique tire-and-wheel set also amp up the visual bellicosity, increasing track width by 20 mm and giving the thing a broader stance. Honda says some of the available rubber options have a more aggressive sidewall and tread shoulder appearance but these all-seasons are still light years away from the likes of a BFGoodrich KO2 or Firestone Destination M/T.
There are a smattering of improvements inside, ranging from an updated infotainment system with new graphics to new cloth seat inserts. The company is also careful to make special mention of a physical volume knob (thank you) plus a variety of new gauges and console accents.
Under the hood is a familiar 3.5L V6 making 280 hp and 262 lb.-ft of torque ashed to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive system can send up to 70 per cent of the engine’s torque to Ridgeline’s rear wheels. There are selectable drive modes for snow, mud, and sand. Towing capacity tops out at 5,000 lbs.
The latter underscores some of the sand-kicking, since other mid-size trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado can tow maximums of 6,800 lbs and 7,700 lbs, respectively. A new mug never hurts, and Honda’s reputation for build quality is stellar, so we’re confident the 2021 Ridgeline will continue to finds its share of customers.