New Honda Ridgeline Could Redefine the Midsize Pickup

2017-Honda-Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline is all the truck you’ll ever need.

Not the truck that languished on dealer lots between 2003 and 2014. That Ridgeline lasted far longer than it should have and became something of a laughing stock in the truck world.

It’s unfortunate, really, because the past-generation Ridgeline was good enough at doing the things most truck owners do with their trucks. By which I mean get stuck in the same traffic jams as the rest of us, sometimes while hauling a couch.

The new Honda Ridgeline, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show, is similar, but could also revolutionize how we see midsize trucks.

If people buy it, that is.

The first, most obvious difference, between the old Ridgeline and the new one is the design. The new truck looks like a truck, rather than the awkward love child between a BRAT and an Avalanche.

Secondly, the new Ridgeline has features that should appeal to all warm-blooded male and female humans who enjoy urban outdoor adventure. Let’s take some quotes from Honda’s press release one at a time:

The composite, UV-stabilized and scratch-resistant bed also boasts a number of available Honda-exclusive features that add to its incredible versatility, including an In-Bed Trunk™, dual-action tailgate, available 400-watt AC power inverter and the industry’s first in-bed audio system.

In-bed audio system!? Tailgating, and other outdoor activities, just got a lot more pleasant. With that inverter and sound system, the Ridgeline’s bed can be a mobile movie theater.

Inside, the Ridgeline boasts the largest, most versatile and sophisticated cabin in a midsize 4-door pickup, featuring high-grade materials and finishes, available leather trim and all the latest technologies that Honda has to offer, including tri-zone climate control, push button start, a full-color TFT center meter and available 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility.

Frankly, I think this is the kind of interior that’s expected on new cars today. There was a time when trucks got away with a spartan interior, but that time passed with the introduction of the in-bed sound system.

The Ridgeline also will be available for the first time in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Uh-oh. Here’s the first hiccup. Could this be America’s first front-wheel-drive truck? Do me a favor and don’t buy that one. Get the AWD version. You still won’t get a locking differential, but you will get Honda’s i-VTM4 torque vectoring AWD technology, which will get you through anything the climate throws in your path. As long as you stay on the paved road.

One of the features that’s not highlighted in the Honda press release is the size of the Ridgeline’s bed. At 64 inches, it’s longer than any other 4-door short-box pickup bed. Plus there are 48-inches between the rear wheel wells, allowing for flat hauling of plywood and drywall sheets.

It seems that the Honda Ridgeline has everything it needs, but in order to succeed it must take buyers away from the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and GMC Canyon.

Those are what I’ll informally call “manly man” midsize trucks. Even though the Honda will offer everything most truck buyers will ever need, there are still some who won’t consider it a real truck. And that, unfortunately, could be what kills the best midsize truck we’ve seen in a long time.

Will the new Honda Ridgeline be enough “truck” for you?

-tgriffith

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