The Honda Ridgeline Is Nothing If Not Unique

2024 Honda Ridgeline Trailsport

Price: $54,290 CAD

Colour: Sonic Grey Pearl

The manufacture of pickup trucks has largely been the preserve of the big 3 North American automakers. Toyota has long been the lone Japanese carmaker to really make a stir in the pickup market with the likes of the Tacoma. When Toyota made the decision to make the Tacoma, they also made the smart decision to not chase what Ford and friends were doing at the time with their enormous, lumbering pickups and instead went with something smaller and more specific. When Honda decided they needed a pickup as well, they didn’t do what the Americans or Toyota did and very much went their own way with the Ridgeline.

The unibody design and unusual styling of the Honda Ridgeline was controversial when it was introduced for the 2006 model year. When Honda was rewarded with less than spectacular sales, they did what any carmaker would do and produced the car for nearly a decade. Honda finally packed it in for the first-generation Ridgeline in 2016. They produced nearly 300,000 units of the first-generation Ridgeline over those ten years, and I guess this was enough to justify a new one.

Instead of a mostly bespoke design and components, this new Ridgeline borrows nearly everything from its SUV cousin the Pilot. The second-generation keeps it unibody and introduced an even more radical design than the first one. I will admit I didn’t love the first Ridgeline but it at least looked somewhat bulky and wide. The new one looked much smaller and diminutive. You can’t say Honda doesn’t try something new with each generation of this vehicle.

Something Honda didn’t change with the Ridgeline was the winning tailgate. Until you use it you can’t really appreciate how great it is to be able to swing the tailgate open as well as drop it down conventionally. It makes accessing the bed area so much easier. If you need to step up into it just swing the gate open. You don’t need one of those fancy built in ladders (which always break) like you get from Ford. It’s such an elegant solution. When you combine this with the built-in storage compartment in the truck bed the Ridgeline offers solutions for some of the drawbacks of owning a pickup. The storage compartment has a built-in drain which will come in handy when you load it up with ice and beverages on a Friday night. Should you choose to use your beverage container for shopping you can squeeze a lot of groceries inside and still get the top to close securely. This keeps your mandarins from flying around the box while you drive home from the grocery store.

The 2024 Honda Ridgeline features All-Wheel-Drive as well as various drive modes (mud, snow etc). You don’t get conventional 4WD in the Ridgeline which speaks to its desire to be different than the other trucks on the market. You can also take this thing off-road should you feel compelled, but even in this “Trailsport” trim it doesn’t really give you anything bespoke. Typically you get upgraded suspension and other bits of equipment in off-road trims but Honda has decided contrast stitching is sufficient. You still get a 3.5L V6 engine in the Ridgeline. It gives you 280 hp and 262 lb/ft of torque. It’s a comfortable amount of power but won’t jam you into your seat too hard under aggressive acceleration. This power is sent through a 9-speed automatic transmission that is as lazy as the engine but it’s also very smooth and that’s a perk. Over 700kms I average a combined fuel economy of 13.5L/100kms. This is a bit higher than the posted fuel economy of 11.5L/100kms but I’ve rarely seen an accurate fuel rating from a manufacturer. One day I’ll figure out how their math works.

Make what you will of the Honda Ridgeline. It continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what a pickup truck is. There are more and more small/mid-sized pickups coming out every year. If they all take the risks that Honda does with this car, we would be most fortunate to see real innovation and change in a segment that has looked essentially the same for a very long time.

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