Honda Ridgeline Premium Audio: The Good, the Bad, and the Awful

The Honda Ridgeline has a lot to like. In the midsize pickup segment, it has excellent reviews from many well-respected publications. Moreover, its interior is one of the best options in the class, with comfortability and plenty of features. However, those who want premium audio inside their Ridgeline should think twice. According to MotorTrend, the Honda Ridgeline premium audio system has more bad things than good.

What is the 2022 Honda Ridgeline premium audio system?

White Honda Ridgeline driving down a road in the desert - its premium audio system could use some updating.
2021 Ridgeline Sport (HPD) | Honda

For 2021 and 2022, the Ridgeline uses a 540-watt, 8-speaker premium audio system. It’s standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition models, so more affordable tiers won’t have access. One highlight is that it comes with a volume knob, absent on many new models. MotorTrend says it is “generally pleased” with the system’s audio quality inside the 2021 Ridgeline, which it drove for half a year. However, like many things, there are some negatives to go with the positives.

The good: Honda Ridgeline premium truck-bed audio

The truck-bed audio is a unique, cool feature with the Ridgeline’s premium audio system. It’s standard with the 540-watt system and is activated by pressing a button on the home screen. It’s important to note that it’s used from the home screen, not the audio menu. Switching on the truck-bed audio system turns off the in-cabin speakers.

However, the system will continue playing even after the ignition is switched off. Moreover, it’s perfect for tailgating or a drive-in movie, where you’d want sound in the bed without draining the truck’s battery or fuel. Finally, the system turns the sidewalls and the front of the box into speakers by vibrating them with specialized speaker drivers.

According to MotorTrend, the system proved impressive at a drive-in. Honda’s audio system is designed to last for up to three hours outdoors so that it won’t shut itself off mid-movie. That’s plenty for most single-feature drive-in movies, and recharging is as easy as finding an outlet. When the driver reaches 10 mph, the Ridgeline will automatically revert to in-cabin audio.

The bad: Slow and glitchy Apple CarPlay

Many modern vehicles come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These systems turn the vehicle’s infotainment system into your phone’s interface, allowing drivers to control music, apps, and more efficiently. However, not all Apply CarPlay systems are created equal. Inside the 2021 Honda Ridgeline, MotorTrend experienced some issues using the system.

Firstly, MT said it had no trouble connecting an iPhone 8, but the iPhone 12 went undetected. Since there’s no wireless availability, the iPhone 12 was plugged directly into the system with a USB cable, but to no avail. Additionally, the driver reported that plugging in a previously synced device when getting back into the truck again was a problem. Honda’s system takes longer to recognize the same device is plugged in.

Other times, MT said it connected a phone, and the system would play content the user didn’t choose at a volume that isn’t adjustable. Moreover, the knob, steering wheel controls, and iPhone volume buttons don’t control the volume setting. Once this happens, users need to hard reset the system to control the volume again.

The awful: Honda Ridgeline premium audio has no retained accessory power

Honda Ridgeline truck bed trunk | Honda

If you don’t know, retained accessory power is a fancy way of saying music keeps playing when you turn your car off. Who doesn’t like the music to play while you get gas or just step out of the vehicle for a minute? Unfortunately, MT says it isn’t possible in the Honda Ridgeline. Pushing the ignition button off instantly deactivates the audio system, no matter what. Regardless of how quickly you press the button again, you’ll cold start the vehicle.

Next, the system doesn’t allow users to adjust fader and balance while the car is moving. There are obviously focus-grabbing features that should remain available while driving, but adjusting fader and balance is not one of them.

2022 Honda Ridgeline premium audio needs updating

RELATED: What’s Inside the 2022 Honda Ridgeline?

In conclusion, the Honda Ridgeline midsize pickup truck’s audio system was last redesigned in 2017. Honda’s truck received an update for 2021, but the infotainment system went unchanged. Unfortunately, some things still feel outdated in 2022. We expect the Ridgeline to receive an infotainment overhaul sooner than later. For now, there are a few more bad things than good about the midsize truck’s premium audio system. While the in-bed audio is an excellent, unique feature, the glitchy Apple CarPlay and lack of accessory power are bad qualities.

RELATED: 3 Things Consumer Reports Doesn’t Like About the 2022 Honda Ridgeline