The 2021 Honda Ridgeline Fails to Get Deserved Appreciation as the Best Pickup Truck of 2021

It should come as no surprise that when Honda decided to make a pickup truck, it would be a little boring and really good. Like most GOATs, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline has no shortage of haters. However, it is not nearly as popular as we feel it should be. Although we have written about this before, I can’t help but feel like the Honda Ridgeline is still underappreciated. 

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package parked in the mountains named best new pickup truck of 2021 by Car and Driver
2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package. | Honda

Since we talked about this last, the Honda Ridgeline is still getting great reviews, new packages, and better-looking updates. Meanwhile, the truck world is scattering around, rushing to build more mid-size trucks like the Maverick, Ranger, and even a new pickup truck thing from Hyundai

Everyone loves the 2021 Honda Ridgeline

Car and Driver just released a list of what they think are the best pickup trucks of 2021, and guess which one is right up at the top. The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is the first on the list, and it looks great being there. It is in first place over the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Jeep Gladiator, Ram TRX… I can go on like this forever.

A black 2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD driving through shallow water with two red dirt bikes in the truck bed
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD hauling two dirt bikes | Honda

Speaking of high praise, the Ridgeline is also the best pickup truck of 2021 on Consumer Reports. Like, it is the best one they tested all year. Once you see how many strong reviews and happy customers the Honda Ridgeline has, their scarcity becomes super baffling. Keep in mind that the Ridgeline is beating out legacy pickup truck brands like Ford, GMC, and Toyota with Honda’s first-ever vehicle with a bed. This is wild and deserves attention.

What makes the 2021 Ridgeline so good?

First of all, the Honda Ridgeline is fundamentally different from many other trucks on the list in that it is a one-size-fits-all pickup truck. The pickup truck segment is built on having a million options depending on how hard you need your truck to work (or how hard you want to flex at the hardware store). The Honda Ridgeline refuses to flex. Its superpower is being unwaveringly practical and even boring, but inarguably useful.

It only has one engine option; the 280-hp 3.5-liter V6. This single powertrain option makes a reasonable 262 lb-ft of torque and pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. This drive train is a masterclass in practicality. Car and Driver says the V6 offers plenty of smooth and direct power. It can also haul up to 5,000 lbs and carry 1600 lbs in the trunk. This isn’t class-leading but is plenty for most people.

Not Your Grandpa’s pickup truck

Unlike almost any other pickup truck, the Honda can actually take a corner. It rides on coil-sprung independent rear suspension that offers a ride closer to a car than anything resembling a truck. I know truck people say they prefer solid axles and leaf springs, but for most truck drivers, the Honda Ridgeline will get it done, and you’ll be more comfortable.

2021 Honda Ridgeline parked in a field
2021 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

Consumer Reports Only Recommends 2 Pickup Trucks For 2021

The 2021 model just got some refresh attention from Honda, and none of it is a flex. While it still isn’t a burly truck, it does look a bit closer to its competitors. Honda also released a new package designed by the Honda Performance Division, which added black-over fenders, a distinctive blacked-out grille, HPD graphics on the bed walls, and cool-looking bronze wheels. Again, I don’t see this as a flex so much as Honda trying to help people see the potential in the Market’s most friendly pickup truck. 

All of these things together make for a truck that might not scratch the tough-guy itch. And maybe you won’t have people crowded around your truck at the Home Depot, but it is without question the best pickup for most people. Granted, if you are looking for a monster off-roader, a farm work truck, or something to haul big loads, the Honda Ridgeline probably isn’t the right call. The fact is, most people would be likely plenty happy with the Ridgeline as their everyday truck.