|Positives: Easy driving manners, ample utility and storage capability, unique gold HPD package wheels look great.
|Negatives: Only one engine choice, interior looks prehistoric compared to the new Hyundai Santa Cruz, annoying pushbutton transmission, so-so infotainment experience.
|Bottom Line: The Ridgeline is a great little truck that packs in a ton of convenience and utility. It's easy to drive and easy to live with. Too bad the interior is on the cheap side.
One of the best aspects of the Ridgeline is its driving manners. Smooth, potent, and responsive, it provides a fun ride and nimble dynamics for a truck.
Ride Quality: The ride is smooth and comfortable over pavement and rougher stuff. We never felt it was out of sorts, even on big pavement gaps on a sweeping highway on ramp.
Acceleration: The transmission provides solid and responsive shifts, and the powerful V6 gets it up to speed with authority. 0-60 clocks in at a quick 6.2 seconds, which is actually a bit slower than the 2.5-liter turbo-four Hyundai Santa Cruz, which does the same sprint in 6 seconds flat.
Braking: The worst part about the Ridgeline is the mushy brake pedal that doesn't inspire confidence and is inconsistent with the rest of the driving experience.
Steering: Steering in the Ridgeline is quite good, and there's actually some decent feedback and solid accuracy.
Handling: There's a hint of body roll in the Ridgeline, but it remains composed in the turns.
Honda's infotainment system isn't great to look at or use. It feels planted in early 2000's graphics, making it look pretty dated. It also seems to lack good responsiveness. We even had trouble getting it to respond to smartphone connections when restarting the car. Controls are less than stellar, as well.
Infotainment System: The small-ish infotainment screen reminds me of my HP jet ink printer screen, only slightly worse. It can't hold a candle to better systems from GM, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and pretty much everyone else.
Controls: The pushbutton transmission isn't great to use, and there isn't enough distinction between the buttons. The steering wheel audio control wheels and buttons are also not very intuitive to use.
We quite like the changes to the front end of the Ridgeline to make it more truck-like in its appearance. The HPD package dresses things up in a sporty way, but some might find the flashy use of gold and the HPD decals a bit over the top.
Front: The larger grille and more vertical front fascia give the Ridgeline a more rugged look. The black grille mesh and top wing trim make for a more menacing appearance, as well.
Rear: The tailgate isn't especially unique with just the badging. The checkered flag HPD badge is a nice touch, as are the twin round tailpipes.
Profile: The side view is the Ridgeline's best angle, and we do like the thick black fender trim. Unfortunately, it makes the wheels/tires look a bit small.
Cabin: The interior of the Ridgeline isn't particularly special. The fabric seats look good, and the dash is clean, but the overall look and feel are on the cheap side. There's a lot of grey and black plastic in here.
There's a solid amount of room inside for all occupants, and it's surprisingly comfortable for four. The seats strike a good balance between cushioning and firmness. Some of the hard plastics on the door trim could be improved.
Front Seats: The fabric seats have excellent bolstering, and the armrests are a great added touch. There's about a half-inch more of headroom in the Sport trim thanks to the absence of a sunroof.
Rear Seats: Rear seats are good for adults in the outboard positions, and there's a decent amount of middle position room, but the lower part of the seatback juts out. This makes it harder for the middle passenger on longer trips.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Ridgeline is well built, but there is some road noise intrusion in the cabin at higher speeds.
Visibility: Visibility all around is very good thanks to the manageable pillar size and the good seating position.
Climate: The climate system is quite good thanks to good responsiveness and large vents. Too bad the Sport doesn't get standard heated seats.
Overall, the Ridgeline is pretty safe despite the fact that it didn't nab any awards from the IIHS. It did do well with the feds, though. While it doesn't have any automatic braking features, it does get a decent set of safety technology in the Honda Sensing package that comes standard.
IIHS Rating: The Ridgelines demerits come in the form of the "Acceptable" rating for the passenger side small overlap front crash and LATCH ease of use, as well as the "Marginal" headlights, which we can attest were not especially bright.
NHTSA Rating: The Ridgeline did very well in federal crash testing with only a loss of one star in the rollover test. It earned five stars overall.
Standard Tech: The Ridgeline comes with the Honda Sensing suite that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Road Departure Mitigation. There's also a standard rearview camera.
Optional Tech: None.
Here's where the Ridgeline truly shines, proving that you don't need a big truck to get big jobs done. The bed length comes in one size, but it's enough to be truly useful, as is the storage in the cabin. The rear seat storage is a marvel.
Storage Space: There are some great storage options inside. First of all, the center console storage with the retractable door is really big, and the front tray and door pockets are also very practical. The rear seat storage area that's accessible by folding the seat cushions up means big items and fit in back without a problem.
Cargo Room: The bed has 33.9 cubic feet of volume, as well as a 7.3-cubic-foot in-bed trunk that's accessible by lifting the cover up.
We were surprised by how well the Ridge did with its naturally-aspirated V6 engine. We were able to hit the EPA estimates without a problem.
Observed: 21.3 mpg combined.
Distance Driven: 142 miles.
The stock 7-speaker audio system is acceptable with no major issues. It does lack good bass, but at least the audio is clear and without distortion.