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There’s a black sheep in almost every family. You know, that one person who marches to the beat of a different drum. Maybe it’s the troublemaker or the rebel who makes a habit of coloring outside the lines. If you don’t have one in your family, you at least have heard of others who have black sheep in theirs.

In the midsize truck market, there’s a similar sentiment. Strong contenders line the dealership lots with beefy tires, roaring engines, and off-road chops. Blue ovals and bowtie badges aside, there’s one truck in this family that just seems to do things a little different. And to many critics, the Honda Ridgeline has always been the black sheep of the midsize truck class. But Honda redesigned this pickup for 2021, and it has us wondering. Should Honda just embrace the “black sheep” status and own the rebel reputation? 

There’s a black sheep in the midsize truck family

Automobile Magazine called it a “new look for the black sheep of trucks.” The critics also reminded fans not to call it the ugly duckling either. Back in 2017, Motor1 called it the kale of trucks.

The Honda Ridgeline has never been shy in the capability or performance department. But its looks always seem to differ from others in the midsize truck class.

Whether it was the Ridgeline’s sleek and swooping style lines that contrasted the boxy and aggressive stance of other pickups, or its Midnight Edition, it seemed to have adopted the ‘black sheep’ title from the beginning.

The segment is full of straight-A pickup truck students

The traditional look and capability of the midsize truck, some might say, has been perfected by every other pickup in this class. Trucks have always seemed to embrace the tough and rugged look, with big tires, smiling grilles, and protective skid plates.

The Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Toyota Tacoma all seem to get straight A’s in these categories. And all these trucks follow the same cookie-cutter recipe for pickup design, which to some truck buyers might put them at a disadvantage.

The new 2021 Honda Ridgeline responds and rebels

In a way, Honda heard the ‘black sheep’ comments and responded for the 2021 redesign. The new Ridgeline has an entirely new front end that seems to mimic the traditional pickups in this segment.

It’s also getting an updated infotainment system and introducing a new Honda Performance Development roster of packages, according to Edmunds.

There are accessories available like black fender flares, 18-inch Sonora Bronze wheels, and bed wall graphics. In one way, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline is trying to be like the cool kids. And at the same time, it’s showing off its ability to pave its own path.

Being different is not such a bad thing for the Honda Ridgeline

From its lockable, in-bed trunk and in-bed audio system to its game-changing, two-way tailgate and unibody undersides, the Honda Ridgeline seems to kind of like being a black sheep.

There is an entire audience of truck buyers out there who want to drive something that distinguishes itself apart from the pack in a smart and valuable way.

The Honda Ridgeline knows it’s different and doesn’t seem to mind the ‘black sheep’ title. It should embrace it. After all, there’s an entire market of young truck enthusiasts who need a versatile truck to help move a friend, hit the highway with smart fuel efficiency, and yes, even work or venture off-road once in a while. And they want to do in a truck that’s unique, smart, and capable.