Trucks & SUVs

Are Truck Buyers Finally Coming Around to the Honda Ridgeline?

Honda is known for its quality, reliable cars that can spend decades cruising the roads, and the automaker has made its presence known in other markets by producing more crossovers and SUVs than ever before. But in order to compete as a true American brand, you need a truck in the lineup. Honda’s first attempt at a pickup raised some serious controversy, but many years and five-star reviews have occurred since the first days of the Honda Ridgeline. With more and more Americans investing in a Ridgeline, are people finally coming around to the idea of a Honda truck?

The Honda Ridgeline: a non-truck in the truck segment?

2017 Honda Ridgeline is on display at the 109th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on February 10, 2017
The Honda Ridgeline | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Since the Honda Ridgeline first debuted, it’s been a sensation within the truck world. Many argued right from the beginning that the Ridgeline shouldn’t and couldn’t be labeled a “truck.” According to Trucks.com, “many truck enthusiasts refuse to consider it a pickup because of its crossover-like unibody constructions and front-wheel-drive architecture.” And there are some that believe that a quality truck can only come from an American truck company. 

Whether you are in on the Ridgeline being a truck or not, Honda certainly knows how to change the game. Experts at Interior News point out that the Ridgeline is “neither a true truck nor a true SUV; this is a vehicle that crosses over both territories and therefore plays a unique spot in the market.” Maybe Honda’s unique approach of building a non-truck truck makes the Ridgeline one of the best trucks available.

Experts weigh in

The stingiest of truck lovers may not see the Ridgeline as a truck, but that doesn’t stop the experts from loving it. In fact, the 2019 Honda Ridgeline won PickupTrucks.com’s 2019 MidSize Truck Challenge, edging out all other competitors with its overall comfort and driving ease, incredible function, and impressive value. Even Kelley Blue Book gives the 2019 Honda Ridgeline a good overall score of 4.3 (out of five), stating “it’s hard to ignore this midsize pickup,” with its SUV-like ride and truck-like function.

Consumer Reports ranks the newest 2020 Honda Ridgeline as No. 1 among new compact pickup trucks. Receiving a good overall score of 76, it’s also rated higher than any other available pickup of the same model year, including full-size Ford and Chevrolet pickups. It comes with a predicted owner satisfaction score of four (out of five) and a high road test score of 83 (out of 100). Consumer Reports ranked the Ridgeline highest for its transmission, climate system, acceleration, braking, overall comfort, access, and usability, which all received scores of four or five (out of five).

Ridgeline sales prove that Honda can compete

Though the Honda Ridgeline didn’t sell as poorly in 2019 as other trucks in the segment, sales numbers are still towards the bottom of the barrel. But that’s the case for most trucks within the segment unless they belong to Ford, Ram, or Chevrolet. The three truck giants have dominated American truck sales for decades, making it near impossible for other American and Japanese brands to make its mark. 

But Honda planned the Ridgeline’s future intelligently, understanding that most truck buyers trust “American brand trucks” over others. The Ridgeline was named Cars.com’s “Most American-Made Truck” of 2019, assembling more than two-thirds of its vehicles here in the U.S. Even the biggest American truck brands outsource a larger majority of its production.

According to CarSalesBase, Honda only sold 520 Ridgelines in 2015, when it took a hiatus to work on a new generation Ridgeline. When it reappeared in 2016, 23,667 Ridgelines were sold in the U.S. Fast forward a few years and the Honda Ridgeline has ended its best year yet. With a 31% increase over 2018, according to GoodCarBadCar, Honda sold 33,334 Ridgeline trucks total in 2019.

Though those numbers are nowhere near American truck giants’ sales numbers like Ford, which sold nearly 1,000,000 trucks in 2019, Honda is one of the only brands to experience to experience a positive increase over the previous year. It is also one of the only trucks that ended the year with positive sales.