Trucks & SUVs

Does the 2020 Honda Ridgeline Deserve More Respect?

The 2020 Honda Ridgeline combines everything great about crossover SUVs and today’s pickup truck. Maybe it doesn’t have the towing capacity of some of its midsize peers, but it can handle the work most people need a truck for, offers a ride that’s both comfortable and peppy, and has some off-road capabilities too. The Ridgeline also has some pretty neat features like an in-bed trunk and an available audio system.

OK, so the Honda Ridgeline isn’t a traditional truck. But just maybe it’s a good truck. Does it deserve more credit for that? 

An unconventional truck

Sharing the Honda Global Light Truck platform with the Honda Pilot, the Honda Ridgeline has a lot in common with its flagship SUV cousin. 

The Honda Ridgeline has a lot to offer even if it isn’t like most trucks you’ve seen before. The steering is solid and it corners like a pro. It features a comfortable and quiet ride which is a great advantage, thanks in no small part to an independent rear suspension. The overall design reduces incidents of “bed hop” that you get with the standard rear axle setup.

The Ridgeline weighs less than the Pilot and has a lot of get-up-and-go thanks to the 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 282 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that gives the Ridgeline great acceleration. It has a front-wheel-drive platform, and if you don’t do a lot of off-roading, you’ll get pretty decent gas mileage.

If you get an all-wheel-drive model, you get the Intelligent Traction Management system (iVTM-4 system). The system allows you to select different driving modes to help in specific terrain situations like normal, mud, sand, and snow. It also has a really convenient weatherproof in-bed trunk that offers 7.3 cubic feet of space.

The Honda Ridgeline’s off-roading capabilities

RELATED: Despite a Higher Starting Price, the Honda Ridgeline Is the Most Affordable Midsize Truck

The nine-speed transmission is an upgrade from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline. The crawl ratio changed from 14:1 in 2019 to 20:1 in 2020 because of the difference in final-drive and new transmission ratios. What do the numbers mean? They mean the 2020 Honda Ridgeline can accelerate faster and scale steeper inclines with greater ease than the 2019 models.

The team at PickupTrucks.com took the new Ridgeline RTL-E off-roading to see how it did. They found that with the iVTM-4 system, it did a great job off-road on a variety of different terrain types. They found it to have the off-road prowess to match or exceed its peers except for the off-road trim-level trucks in the same segment.

On a dirt and gravel road,  the AWD Ridgeline impressively transferred power where it needed to keep the truck controlled. The truck didn’t drift for them when cornering fast on gravel and went exactly where they wanted it to go. On the articulation hill, the Ridgeline performed like a champ only required minimal braking for the spinning wheels.

On a steep incline, the team found by applying just a little more throttle that they were able to climb without hassle. They tested using all the drive modes and then with the traction system off. With the system off, the truck wasn’t able to make the climb. It wasn’t able to transfer enough power from the clutch packs to make it work.

Extra heat was created from the attempt and set off an overheat alert. Here, it’s not a bad thing so much as a mechanism meant to protect the iVTM-4 system from harm. Once it cooled off, the system functioned again just fine.

A worthy truck

While the 2020 Honda Ridgeline is an unconventional pickup, many analysts agree that it’s a mistake to dismiss it as purposeless or impractical. The truth is, the new Ridgeline has a generous amount of interior space for a comfortable ride. The in-bed trunk offers a good amount of space in a bed that’s as big or bigger than its peers.

And the Ridgeline is more than capable when it comes to off-roading. The iVTM-4 system helps the truck navigate easily over a wide range of terrains and in all types of weather conditions. It might not be the best off-roading truck or have the best tow rating in its class, but because it does things differently, it’s well-rounded and considered one of the best compact pickup trucks by U.S. News.