Trucks & SUVs

Is the Honda Ridgeline a Pickup Truck?

Whether you are comfortable calling the Honda Ridgeline a pickup truck or not, this utility vehicle has seen some awesome model years. Calling this unibody creature a truck has sparked some controversy over the years. So, is the Honda Ridgeline a pickup truck?

The updated 2020 Honda Ridgeline

Reviews and awards the Ridgeline earned in its youth

As far back as 2005 and 2006––when this model was new––the Honda Ridgeline topped some prestigious truck lists. Car and Driver floated the Ridgeline atop its “Do-It-All Compact Pickups” list in June 2005.

Used Honda Ridgelines from those first few years are still praised by their owners. They are easy to find for a few grand under $10k, as long as you don’t care about buying one with 100,000 miles or more. On Edmunds.com, consumer reviews of these used Honda trucks say things like “best truck I’ve ever owned.” and “will buy another.”

But there are some trucking diehards that refuse to call this Honda a pickup truck. And in all honesty, it is a little confusing. How oh how can a pickup truck still be a truck with a unibody frame? That is the question many asked when the Ridgeline debuted. And many still ask now.

2020 Honda Ridgeline towing a boat through sand
2020 Honda Ridgeline

Kelley Blue Book calls the Ridgeline a car

In the Kelley Blue Book midsize truck comparison, KBB editor loved the smooth and easy ride of this utility vehicle. But in the end said, “this is such a good car, but I’m not sure that it’s a great truck.” Is the Ridgeline a goliath edition Accord with a pickup bed? Maybe so.

“Depending on your perspective, the Honda Ridgeline might not qualify as a truck at all. It’s more like a 4-door crossover SUV with an open cargo bed. You can get a 2WD Ridgeline, but that’s front-wheel drive rather than rear-drive like on the other trucks. And there’s no low-range gearing with the available AWD system, though it includes driver-selectable terrain modes.”

Kelley Blue Book
a red Honda Ridgeline from the side
2019 Honda Ridgeline

What makes a truck a truck?

Many would argue that a truck is only a truck when it employs a body-on-frame design. But because trucks were designed to work and there are many definitions of work, defining a truck can be equally diverse and complicated. So is the Honda Ridgeline a pickup truck? The answer to that will probably always come down to perspective.

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However, if we go by Jalopnik’s open-minded rules for classification, the Honda Ridgeline is a truck. The rules for truckhood from Jalopnik remove the argument against due to the unibody frame. These specifications are as follows:

1. The vehicle’s primary design goal is to haul cargo

2. There must be some sort of cargo bed, which may be a flatbed, an open-topped tub (like a pickup truck), or an enclosed structure, box-like or otherwise, made from any number of materials

3. There must be a physical divider between the passenger cab area and the cargo area.

Jason Torchinsky | Jalopnik
Honda Ridgeline pickup truck on display at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto
An older Honda Ridgeline | Seyit Aydogan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Honda does have a truck

In terms of the midsize truck class, Honda has a player in the game. If we take Jalopnik’s truck rules to heart, the Honda Ridgeline passes as a pickup truck no questions asked. And though it’s not the off-road prowler the Toyota Tacoma is, nor the towing king like the Chevy Colorado, the Ridgeline still puts the ute in utility.