The Honda Ridgeline pickup truck has been the exception from the rule since its introduction, being the only one built on a car-based uni-body chassis. While it has been enormously popular with its actual customers, it has as well suffered from an image lacking of toughness.
This is in part because truck customers are mostly men who whether they admit it or not, see a truck as an extension of themselves or they are mechanically minded enough to put a lot of emphasis on the steely hardware that most traditional trucks are made of. Can it actually haul stuff?
To wit, American Honda has updated their second-generation Ridgeline pickup for 2021 with some new visual enhancements to butch it up a little and give permission for more men to accept their fate as a crossover driving pickup truck acolyte. Give them permission to let their wives weigh in on what is a smarter choice in many cases.
The front-end has been redesigned to offer a brawnier jawline, men like that. New fenders, hood and front fascia bumper combination have a more squared-off and upright shape. New LED headlamps light the way and a grille with thicker deeper sculpted elements complete the new look. Yes, I said thicker and deeper.
There’s a new front skid plate element, beefier looking tires on redesigned wheels with wider offset across the board for a wider stance and a new rear bumper design is added with the visual of twin exhaust outlets. A truck must have an aggressive exhaust pipe presentation after all.
Shown here is a new Honda Performance Development HPD Package which adds an even beefier grille treatment, strap-on fender flares, and some hot looking bronze 20-inch wheels. You also get the all important HPD graphics on the bed walls.
The interior gets an important update to the infotainment system which has new graphics and touchscreen icons and wait for it…..a real volume knob. I know all you viewers thought the journalists were out of our mind for bitching about the lack of one, but look who finally listened. Also new are various cloth trims, stitching accents and dash finishes across various trim grades.
Carryover for 2021 is the oldish SOHC 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 which still comes with the not so loved 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s available i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system is notable however and can send 70 percent of the torque to the rear axle.
The aforementioned torque vectoring and traction controls are all by way of braking action through software and paired with drive modes for snow, mud and sand can be quite versatile.
While I joked about the Ridgeline being less than manly at the outset, in need of some hair on its chest, the reality is that it has sold well for Honda thus far, offering most buyers a high-quality highly livable pickup-truck alternative in the marketplace.
It does have a standard 1,580-pound payload capacity and can tow up to 5,000 pounds – nothing to make fun of. Furthermore it is the only mid-size truck on the market that can have a 4-foot wide piece of material laid flat in its bed.
That said, the manlier 2021 Honda Ridgeline goes on sale early next year.