Honda Ridgeline remade into a whole new truck

Honda isn’t the only company with truck news, but last year when Honda introduced the second-generation Ridgeline as a 2018 model, the redesign was so radical you might say that Honda picked up the radiator cap and slid a new truck under it. If you were blindfolded and put into the truck, you wouldn’t believe it was a Honda.

Honda did keep the boxed monocoque frame of the original. This system is unique in the truck world and combines the best of a frame made of boxed steel and unibody construction.

The unibody isn’t obvious because there is no way to see it unless you are under the truck. To disguise things even more, the Ridgeline now looks as if the box is separate from the cab. The flying buttress on the side is gone and the Ridgeline silhouette is now that of a regular four-door truck.

In Ridgeline, all-wheel drive, a single range four-wheel drive system, is the only drive system offered. Canadians prefer all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive in their new vehicles and it is more cost effective to make the all-wheel drive standard. All-wheel drive is gaining popularity over four-wheel drive.

When comparing prices in the United States where the climate is significantly more diverse, a front-wheel drive variant is available.

Ridgeline come in five trim levels: the LX, Sport, EXL, Touring and Black Edition. In a twist of marketing irony, all models can be ordered with black paint and trim.

All trim levels come with a 5,000-pound, towing rating, which is a bit on the light side when compared with other mid-sized trucks. The GM/Chevrolet Colorado and Canyon come in around 10,000 lb. in rated abilities.

The towing tests I’ve taken part in at the Canadian Truck King Challenge and with Honda have shown me that the Ridgeline is capable of towing up to that maximum capacity easily. Even at the 5,000 lb. level, the sway control and brake control software made it feel as if the trailer wasn’t there.

There were only two times I had a bit of a feel for how big the load was. One was under acceleration. It took a bit longer to get to 100 km-h than when empty. The other time was when we put a near-capacity, 1,000 lb. load in the truck bed; then the ride got a bit softer.

Another Ridgeline success was on the articulation course. The classic situation is to have the two opposite wheels in the air, stop and then try to move on. Aside from the front dropping back to earth, there was no indication of any mobility issue. It was as if the wheels had never left the ground.

Ridgeline is an all-wheel drive truck, so it should be able to go off-road. It does and does it well.

I would say that the all-wheel drive system has more capability than the suspension has ground clearance. I bounced over a couple rocks and trees on the Canadian Truck King Challenge Off-Road Course that I didn’t know were there when driving other trucks. Ridgeline still went over, but it was a wake-up call to drive more observantly.

The “upper” truck box has about the same dimensions as previous models and Honda’s bed tie-down system is available on most models.

It is the “lower” box that has had a change in dimensions to become more useful. It is a bit more squared off and slightly larger. The removable body plug is still in the bottom to help you in cleaning out water that may collect in the bottom during those tailgate parties.

The tailgate still drops down or opens like a door depending on what you are doing.

Once you have the outside figured out, climbing into the fully redesigned interior makes you think you are in a car rather than a truck. The optional stereo puts out a great sound. The pedals, controls and instruments are all laid out within easy reach of the driver.

Passengers are going to be coddled in seats that are as comfortable as the driver’s seat. I wouldn’t be afraid to commit to riding to Vancouver in the back seat, the Ridgeline is so comfortable.

Sounds like the perfect truck so far, doesn’t it?

It does tick off a lot of boxes for both city and country use. But it didn’t hit every one. Because of the equipment levels, the starting price is a touch north of $36,000. No arguing that the value is there, if you need the equipment.

Ridgeline has never fit the traditional mold of a truck, but at least it now looks like one. Light farm duty, going to town or just going, Ridgeline can do the job and do it well.

Charles Renny is a Canadian professional automotive reviewer.

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