2017 Honda Ridgeline: It’s a truck that breaks lots of pickup rules – STLtoday.com

Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2016

Every pickup has a cargo bed. The all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline has bunk beds.

The unique lower berth — a hidden cargo hold below the cargo-box floor — came in awfully handy during a grocery run with a couple of grandkids.

Ages 5 and 6, respectively, the girls were ensconced in their child safety seats in the back seat of this crew-cab pickup, a situation that normally would have required the two adults to either jam in the bags around the kids or let a week’s worth of groceries rattle around in the open bed.

In Ridgeline, however, we stashed it all in the hold below the cargo floor — an under-carriage feature made possible by Ridgeline’s independent rear suspension.

So this all-new unibody pickup can pretty much function as an SUV, too — not surprising since it shares its basic platform with the equally new 2016 Honda Pilot.

Available with front- or all-wheel drive, every Ridgeline is powered by a 3.5-liter, 280-hp V-6. Buttoned to a standard six-speed automatic, that engine can tow up to 5,000 lbs. — not as muscular as, say, the 7,700 lbs. doable by a Chevy Colorado, but adequate for most buyers in this segment.

In 175 miles, more highway than city, that drivetrain delivered to us 22 mpg in our AWD model.

Inside, room is impressive up front and good in back, where head room is great and leg room is sufficient for six-footers. Also, the rear cushion flips up for enhanced in-cab vertical cargo capability.

Steering-wheel controls for the infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto talent, are clear and concise while providing a nice tactile experience — lucky thing, since there wasn’t a radio knob in sight.

The driving experience is that of a big car. This unibody’s ride, on indy suspenders, is smooth, the cabin quiet and the handling that of a large sedan rather than a truck.

From a styling standpoint, this gen-2 Ridgeline, offered in RT, RTS, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E and Black Edition trims, looks more like a traditional pickup than its predecessor, from its beefy nose to its separate-from-the-cab cargo box.

Honda hopes this new Ridgeline will fare better than the disappointing sales of its predecessor. With numerous rule-breaking pickup features — available front-wheel drive, fully independent suspension, unibody construction, available truck-bed-mounted power take-off for audio/video tailgating and more — that seems a reasonable expectation.

Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. You can email him at drivingwithdan@gmail.com


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