There’s a Reason Why the 2021 Honda Ridgeline Has Worse Fuel Efficiency Than Its Competition

Pickup trucks aren’t exactly known for their fuel efficiency. Like the Chevrolet Silverado Duramax, some stand out for above-average numbers (23/33 mpg city/highway; combined: 27 mpg) in the segment. However, generally speaking, you should think about fuel when considering the total ownership cost of a pickup truck you may buy. That’s because, like with the Honda Ridgeline, which has numbers that place it at the bottom of the pack, some trucks will wind up costing you extra over time.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E pickup truck model driving across a snowy plain as the sun rises over a mountain
2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Named the number one midsize pickup truck by MotorTrend, the Honda Ridgeline has quite a bit going for it. The 2021’s exterior styling is more aggressive than previous models, especially with the optional HPD package that adds a unique grille, bronze wheels, and wheel arch cladding. It comes equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission and a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque and can take drivers and their payloads from 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds. 

All 2021 models come with standard AWD, allowing them to tow 5,000 pounds and haul 1,580 pounds of payload. Its bed provides 33.9 cubic feet of cargo space, and a lockable storage box provides an additional 7.3 cubic feet. Furthermore, the bed has a lockable storage area and a dual-action tailgate that supports up to 300 pounds, making equipment transportation easier.

However, its relatively minimal towing capacity, compared to others in its class, in addition to other features, has created skepticism among this segment’s enthusiasts that the Ridgeline is a real truck. In particular, the unibody construction and independent suspension make the Ridgeline great for daily commutes – when empty. However, when towing or hauling a payload, those car-like features impair the Ridgeline’s performance.

The Ridgeline’s fuel efficiency

In addition to the Ridgeline’s performance and towing capacity, the 2021 model suffers from below-average fuel efficiency. The Ridgeline gets just 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. With a combined mpg of 21, it’s well below its peers like the Ford Ranger (21/26 mpg city/highway; combined: 23 mpg) and the Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel (22/28 mpg city/highway; combined: 24 mpg). The Ridgeline’s fuel efficiency puts it at the bottom of a recent U.S. News and World Report list of fuel-efficient pickup trucks.

So, why is the Ridgeline’s performance so much worse relative to its peers on the U.S. News list? Most trucks in this category have four-cylinder engines, but with the Ridgeline’s V-6, coupled with its lower towing capacity, it’s simply less efficient than a four-cylinder. V-6 engines are typically found in large pickup trucks or vehicles that have to tow or haul even heavier weights. In those kinds of vehicles, a V-6 engine will usually outperform a four-cylinder engine each time.

Still, as per Car and Driver, the Ridgeline’s V-6 is the most fuel-efficient in its class. So, if you are looking for a midsized pickup with a V-6, the 2021 Ridgeline is the model to buy.

Other selling points

While performance and towing/payload capacity are pretty big considerations, the Ridgeline has other features that prospective buyers may find compelling. The truck comes with an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also comes standard with many advanced safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, lane departure warning, and forward-collision warning. These features, coupled with its car-like handling, earned it a Top Safety Pick recognition from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There are also several attractive trim options, such as the Ridgeline RTL and RTL-E. The RTL adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, and power-adjustable heated front seats, among other amenities, to the base model Ridgeline. The RTL-E adds more tech features, such as built-in navigation, wireless smartphone charging, ambient interior lighting, and an eight-speaker sound system. If you opt for the top-level trim, the Black Edition, you’ll also get black wheels, black exterior trim, black leather upholstery, and red ambient interior lighting.

As a unique midsized pickup truck, there’s a lot to like about the new Honda Ridgeline. It’s quite an attractive ride, and its interior features are enough to help propel it to the top of MotorTrend and Car and Driver’s lists. However, the Ridgeline’s V-6 engine significantly reduces its fuel efficiency, which may be enough to have you give a four-cylinder midsized pickup truck a second look.

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