New year, new competition
The 2019 Honda Ridgeline marches on in the midsize pickup truck segment that welcomes two new players this year—the Ford Ranger and the Jeep Gladiator. How will the Ridgeline stack up? Before we throw it in the ring, we thought it’d be a good idea to get reacquainted with Honda’s pickup.
The second-generation Ridgeline hasn’t changed much since its introduction in model year 2017. Highlights include new colors, more USB ports, streamlined trim levels (from 12 to nine), and the addition of a moonroof and power-sliding rear window to the midlevel RTL and RTL-T models. We got our hands on a very loaded Ridgeline AWD Black Edition with a hefty $44,465 USD price tag. That said, the Black Edition is essentially an appearance package for the Ridgeline RTL-E ($42,965 USD), and a decently equipped RTL-T is priced at $39,945 USD. A base, front-drive Ridgeline RT can be had for $31,035 USD.
Honda’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter V-6 carries over, sending 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque to a six-speed automatic. Not surprisingly, its straight-line performance numbers are nearly identical to the 2017 Ridgeline AWD RTL-E we last tested, running to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds (compared to 7.3 and 15.7 seconds).
“A little poky from a stop,” road test editor Chris Walton noted about our 2019 Ridgeline tester, though “upshifts at redline are reasonably smooth/fast.”
It’s quicker than the top-selling 2018 Toyota Tacoma we recently tested (7.6 seconds to 60 mph), but it lags behind the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado and 2019 Ford Ranger, which posted 0–60 times of 6.4 and 6.8 seconds, respectively. Both domestics have stronger engines and gearboxes with more cogs (and shorter first gears), and they aren’t much heavier than the Honda. Our Ridgeline tester tipped the scales at 4,475 pounds (2,030 kg), just 11 and 75 pounds (5 and 34 kg) lighter than the Chevy and Ford.
With an EPA rating of 18/25 mpg (13/9.4 L/100 km) city/highway, the Ridgeline AWD barely edges out the Colorado V6 4WD at 17/24 mpg (13.8/9.8 L/100 km). A drop in the bucket in times of relatively cheap gas. A comparable Tacoma returns 18/22 mpg (13/10.7 L/100 km); the Ranger hasn’t been rated as of this writing.
The Ridgeline’s unibody chassis remains an outlier among its body-on-frame peers. If you value ride quality above anything else, the Honda can’t be beat. It’s noticeably smoother around town and on the highway and is much more controlled through corners. “Very different than the others,” testing director Kim Reynolds noted after posting a 27.7-second lap around the figure-eight course. “Steering quality is much better including turn-in.” That said, the Colorado’s and Ranger’s handling disadvantages on the figure eight were essentially erased by their stronger powertrains, with the Chevy beating the Honda by 0.1 second and the Ford coming in at a tie.
Part of the Ridgeline’s appeal is its ability to combine car-like road manners and its ability to do work that trucks are expected to do. Our tester’s max payload rating of 1,499 pounds (680 kg) is right there with the Colorado and Ranger we tested, and almost 300 pounds (136 kg) more than the Tacoma we had on hand (though we should note that payload ratings vary more with the body-on-frame trucks depending on configuration).
Meanwhile, the Ridgeline is capped to tow 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg), about 1,400 to 2,500 pounds (635 to 1,134 kg) less than the aforementioned three trucks. Although we didn’t do a standardized tow evaluation this time around, we did praise the Ridgeline’s ability to tow a 3,000-pound (1,361-kg) trailer in a previous test.
The Ridgeline’s truck bed is a showcase of Honda’s clever tricks. The lockable in-bed trunk (with 7.3 cubic feet of cargo) is unique to the segment, and the super handy tailgate swings down and is also side-hinged, giving you closer and easier access to your payload. The available in-bed speaker system is pretty trick, as well, and the bed is also fairly spacious. Though not as deep as its competitors, it does provide 50 inches of space between the wheelhouses, which is about 5 inches more than the Ford and Chevy and 8 inches wider than the Toyota.
Another highlight is the rear passenger area. Not only is the floor completely flat, but the seat bottoms and support frames fold up and away to maximize cargo space. It’s simply cavernous compared to its competitors. Unfortunately the Ridgeline appears to be last in line for Honda’s infotainment upgrade, so you won’t find the sharper and more intuitive interface (nor a volume knob) found in other models.
Interior fit and finish is excellent, storage solutions are scattered throughout, and the front center armrests (straight from the Pilot) are a nice touch. In all, the Ridgeline still charms us with thoughtful engineering, smooth ride, and decent capability. But with new and fresh competition on the way, the Ridgeline could benefit from a few tweaks that’ll hopefully make their way to a midcycle refresh soon.
|2019 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$44,415|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINE||3.5L/280-hp/262-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,475 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||210.0 x 78.6 x 70.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.6 sec @ 88.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||128 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.79 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.7 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/25/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/135 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.94 lb/mile|