Only 1 Midsize Pickup Truck Won a Car and Driver Editors’ Choice Award
Every year, Car and Driver goes through each new car and gives their favorites an ‘Editors’ Choice Award’. There can be multiple winners from each segment, yet Car and Driver thought that only one midsize truck deserved the honor. How did the Honda Ridgeline outshine all of its peers?
Highlights of the 2023 Honda Ridgeline
Car and Driver appreciated that the Honda Ridgeline offers smooth daily driving in addition to utility. Every Honda Ridgeline is powered by a V6 capable of 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Despite its exclusive all-wheel drive setup, the Ridgeline is surprisingly efficient with an EPA rating of 21 mpg combined city/highway.
The Ridgeline rides on 18-in wheels and a coil-spring independent rear suspension. Test drivers had no complaints about the ride quality or the Ridgeline’s acceleration. The Ridgeline also exhibits minimal body roll around turns and it actually exceeded its EPA estimates during real-world driving.
The Honda Ridgeline can hold up to five riders and only has one cab size. The interior is well-assembled and has a logical layout, though some black plastic parts detract from its overall appeal. The Sport trim has cloth-upholstered seats and the three higher trims all feature leather seats.
Every other trim also has a standard moonroof, and the Ridgeline RTL-E has an in-bed stereo system. Amongst all of its rivals, the Ridgeline offers the most legroom for passengers in the rear row. It also has split-folding rear seats if you need more storage area.
The Honda’s midsize truck also only has one cargo box option measuring in at 5-ft-4-in. Reviewers appreciated the bed’s useful width and the lockable storage compartment under the floor. You can open the tailgate from the side in addition to the traditional drop-down method. The Ridgeline can hold up to 1,583 lbs in the cargo box and tow 5,000 lbs.
The site didn’t review the Ridgeline’s infotainment interface, but it includes an 8-in touchscreen programmed with smartphone integration. The Ridgeline Sport’s safety suite includes both forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, plus lane-departure warning and cruise control.
The Honda Ridgeline RTL gains rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitors, while the two highest trims have standard parking sensors.
What would make the Honda Ridgeline a better midsize truck?
While the Ridgeline’s V6 provides seamless acceleration and doesn’t feel lacking, it could benefit from some variety. Similarly, while the Ridgeline’s bed should suffice for light hauling jobs, a longer cargo box option would make the truck more appealing.
Otherwise, the Honda Ridgeline didn’t really attract much criticism from Car and Driver. The low center console might require an annoying adjustment period, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker. The Honda Ridgeline’s brakes are also on the spongy side and the truck requires a longer stopping distance compared to other pickups.
The Honda Ridgeline vs. the midsize truck competition
The Honda Ridgeline is one of the most expensive midsize pickups, starting at $38,800. Unlike some of its rivals, the Honda Ridgeline also doesn’t offer an off-roading variant. Most of its rivals offer at least two off-road trims, including the Nissan Frontier and Chevy Colorado.
The Colorado Z71 is more modestly equipped with an off-roading suspension, locking rear differential, and 308-hp V6. The Colorado ZR2 has another locking differential for the front end, standard four-wheel-drive, and a two-speed transfer case. Similarly, the Toyota Tacoma offers two flavors of the rough-ready TRD trim.
However, while the Chevy Colorado also got a high score from Car and Driver, editors couldn’t forgive the base engine’s performance. Both of the Tacoma’s engines proved to be too slow, while the Nissan Frontier offers subpar cabin space. The Honda Ridgeline might lack some brawn, but it’s more well-rounded than any of its peers.