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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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2023 Honda Ridgeline

Honda was the first to sell a midsize truck that isn’t one: the Ridgeline. And many people love that about it.

They love that has a bed, like a truck. And, unlike most “real” trucks, additional storage under the bed. That it can pull a 5,000-pound trailer, which most cars can’t. And it can carry a four-by-eight sheet of plywood, flat, which no traditional midsize truck can.

But it has more in common with cars — under its skin — than it does with the traditionally designed midsize trucks it’s an alternative to.

And people like that most of all.

What It Is

The Ridgeline looks like a midsize/crew cab pickup truck, but looks can be deceiving — in a good way, if what you’re looking for is something that can do many of the things a midsize truck can do, as well as things they can’t.

Prices start at $38,800 for the base Sport trim, which comes standard with a Class III trailer hitch and wiring, a seven-speaker audio system and three-zone automatic climate control.

There are also RTL ($41,780), RTL-E ($44,730) and Black Edition ($46,230) trims, the latter coming standard with blacked-out exterior trim, black leather seats with red accents and all of the amenity upgrades that come in the RTL-E, including an upgraded audio system, heated steering wheel and wireless phone charging.

What’s New

The Ridgeline carries over unchanged from 2022.

What’s Good

The perfect truck for the buyer who doesn’t want one.

Multiple clever storage built-ins, in addition to the bed.

Comes standard with Honda’s superlative 3.5 V6.

What’s Not So Good

Not the truck for the buyer who really needs one.

No cab/bed options.

Costs more than traditional midsize trucks such as the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger, which do offer different cab configurations.

Under The Hood

The Ridgeline comes standard with a 3.5-liter, 280 horsepower V6 paired with a nine-speed automatic and standard AWD.

Traditionally designed trucks typically come standard with rear-wheel drive and offer four-wheel drive as an option, along with low-range gearing. The Ridgeline may not be as capable a rock-crawler as a traditional truck for that reason, but it’s actually less likely to get stuck than a two-wheel drive (rear-drive) truck in the snow.

You also get a standard 5,000-pound tow rating, which is higher than comes standard in many of the Ridgeline’s traditional truck rivals.

On The Road

It looks like a truck — but it doesn’t drive like one.

The Ridgeline’s car-type suspension (especially in the rear, where it does not have a pair of bulky leaf springs bolted to a solid rear axle), unibody construction and lower ride height are responsible for road manners closer to those of a car than a truck.

And because it’s not as jacked-up as a traditional truck, you also won’t need a step ladder to get in — or get at the things you put in the bed.

At The Curb

It does look like a truck, but look a little deeper and you’ll see some things trucks that actually are do not have — like the trunk that’s under the Ridgeline’s bed.

It’s the perfect place to stow things you may not want to leave unsecured in the bed, where they are exposed to grabby hands as well as the weather. The under-the-bed trunk is weathertight as well as out of sight, and it’s there precisely because the Ridgeline is not a traditional truck and doesn’t have the big hunk of cast iron — the solid rear axle — that would otherwise be under there. That leaves room under there for things like a trunk under the bed — where you’ll also find the spare, so you won’t have to crawl around under this truck-that-isn’t to get at it in the event you get a flat.

You’ll also see that the bed floor is wider through the hips than it is in traditional midsize trucks because the wheel well arches are lesser, once again by virtue of the fact that the Ridgeline isn’t a traditional truck. And that’s why it can carry a four-by-eight sheet flat.
Then there’s the floor — in the cab.

Unlike what you’d find inside a traditional truck, there’s less of a hump dividing the Ridgeline’s cabin down the middle. Indeed, the floor in the rear is essentially flat, allowing much more comfortable seating for a middle (third) passenger back there.

The Rest

Honda only offers one body/bed combo — crew cab with a 5.3-foot bed — but that doesn’t seem to have hurt sales much.

There is a rumor about a pending Type R variant with a 300-plus horsepower engine and a plethora of macho upgrades that may be introduced later in 2023, probably as a ’24 model.

The Bottom Line

If you like the idea of having a truck but not actually having one, the Ridgeline could be just the alternative to a traditional truck you’ve been looking for.

View the Honda Ridgeline this week.

Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!” will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.


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