I Spent the Weekend With the 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport HPD. What Do You Want to Know?
(Country music voice) ♫♩”I’m a Ridgeline-drivin’ maaaaan” ♫♩
I think at this point we can all safely agree Truck Guy is the most ridiculous type of car enthusiast. From coal rolling to Crab Walk to the Ram driver in my county with the "FUCK YOUR FEELINGS" banner across his back window, something is deeply not right with many of America's pickup truck drivers. More so than other drivers, I'd wager. But there is one truck that brings you all the practicality you need with much less of the toxicity, and that is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline.
Apparently, however, America's truck buyers didn't like how the current generation of Ridgeline looked like a Pilot family-hauler with a bed, so for 2021 it's been butched up with a bigger, more aggressive face, a bulging hood and a new rear bumper with twin exhaust tips. A few other token tweaks were made, but under its skin, the updated Ridgeline is still the unibody truck that a relatively small cult of buyers will swear by.
But should you buy one? Well, that's what I'm still trying to figure out.
Over the weekend, I drove a 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport loaded up with Honda Performance Development accessories. Despite the mostly cosmetic updates for 2021, the Ridgeline still uniquely uses a unibody platform (until the Hyundai Santa Cruz shows up), here shared by both the Honda Pilot, Passport, and Odyssey minivan. It's been extensively modified to accommodate the bed, however, so it is its own animal.
And despite the underpinnings, it still boasts the heaviest standard payload (1,589 pounds) in its class and the largest standard bed, as well as a best-in-class, 5,000-pound towing capacity. Power comes from the familiar Honda 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 boasting 280 horsepower, mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels as standard. The front-wheel-drive Ridgeline is no more.
The result is a truck that is supremely pleasant and enjoyable to drive with a supple ride quality, minimal body roll, surprisingly good handling, and a chill demeanor. I looked forward to driving it every day. It doesn't drive like an Accord with a bed, as its naysayers often claim, but it does have better refinement and driving dynamics than a lot of trucks.
Then again, the minimal ground clearance and lack of a true four-wheel drive system (it has all-wheel drive) mean this is a street truck that can tow and haul, not crawl over rocks. That's not a bad thing at all, really. It just may not be for you if that's what you're after in a truck.
This tester had the $2,800 HPD Package, bringing me special 18-inch HPD alloy wheels, fender flares, a new grille, and special decals and badges. I liked the red paint but the gold wheels are a bit much. (By the way, my Guides & Gear colleague Jonathon Klein just did a bunch of motorcycle-hauling with a similarly optioned Ridgeline. Check out his coverage to see what the Ridgeline can do.)
Where I kind of balk is the price. This Ridgeline comes with cloth seats, no parking sensors (useful in a truck) and no navigation, but with options it comes in at $40,860. It has a volume knob, finally, but also packs Honda's outdated and annoying infotainment system. We all know how expensive trucks are, but it feels like a bit much for what you get.
That didn't detract from the Ridgeline's charm, however. I didn't do a ton of hauling or towing in my time with it, but I tested its capabilities. It handled both Brooklyn street parking and some light upsate New York off-roading with equal aplomb.
What do you want to know about it? Ask me stuff, it'll help me figure out what to say about it. Here at The Drive, we're taking five to 10 of the best questions and answering them in our subsequent reviews. So don't feel like your questions won't ever get answered. I'll hang out for a while in the comments section when this publishes and try to answer anything immediate you guys want to know.
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