When Honda introduced the Ridgeline to the market, it was considered one of the riskiest ideas to ever hit the segment. Rather than take the safe route, Honda produced a small, unibody truck that challenged the very idea of the pickup truck. Though many have believed the Ridgeline isn’t even a competitor in the game, Honda is continually proving that the Ridgeline is capable, both on and off the road.
The Honda Ridgeline’s reputation
Among the truck community and around the world, the Honda Ridgeline has the general reputation of not necessarily being a “real truck.” Some believe that it’s the Ridgeline’s small size/truck-bed and Japanese brand association that makes it lesser than its full-size competitors.
According to On the Road Again, some believe the Honda Ridgeline just doesn’t share the same truck genetics. This is because the Ridgeline was created based on the body of Honda’s SUVs, using unibody construction. But when Honda took the Ridgeline off its lineup for a few years and reemerged with different ideas, Honda began to prove the Ridgeline was indeed a capable truck.
How the Ridgeline proved it’s capable off-road
When Jalopnik experts decided to take the 2018 Honda Ridgeline on a 700-mile camping adventure, the trip wasn’t expected to be too exciting. But according to those same Jalopnik experts, that trip convinced them that the Ridgeline “is actually a cool and uniquely useful vehicle.”
Traveling from Los Angeles to Big Sur, California (round-trip), Jalopnik used every feature and design the Ridgeline offers, including its secret storage under the bed, outdoor speakers, dual-hinged tailgate, and better-than-your-average-truck manners. Every ounce of the Ridgeline was designed to provide storage, function, and performance, with even the doors containing storage shelves.
The Ridgeline’s unibody construction and independent suspension actually give it “an edge in road handling and smoothness other the similarly-sized” trucks in the segment. Though Jalopnik believes its powertrain lacks the ability for pulling enormous loads or mud-bogging, the Ridgeline is well-designed with smart traction control.
This helped the Ridgeline get up sandy hills and small areas easily. In the end, the Ridgeline is quite capable of off-road fun, with limits. It makes weekend adventures, camping, and lugging cargo a fun experience for anyone.
And Jalopnik weren’t the only experts to be surprised by the Ridgeline’s capabilities. When the people at Nitto Tire took the 2018 Ridgeline out for a ride, they were “impressed at how poised and solid it felt off-road.” Though it may not be the best choice for an ultimate off-road vehicle, the Ridgeline can still perform.
Where the Ridgeline stands against the competition
Today, the Ridgeline’s reputation has improved and it has become more popular than ever. Consumers enjoy its compact and fuel-efficient nature, while still having the ability to function as a truck.
In fact, Consumer Reports ranks the Honda Ridgeline as its number-one pick for compact pickup trucks for both 2019 and 2020 model years. The 2020 Ridgeline received a high, overall score of 74 and a road test score of 83 (out of 100) from Consumer Reports, proving the Ridgeline has made an impact in the segment.
Honda’s Ridgeline was not just surprising, but “evolved the concept of the pickup,” according to Consumer Reports. After the road test, Consumer Reports even claims that the 2020 Honda Ridgeline is “the most civilized pickup” ever tested.
More proof of the Honda Ridgeline’s capability can be seen in black and white, in the form of sales numbers. According to Good Car Bad Car, Honda went from selling only 17,723 Ridgelines in 2013 and 13,389 in 2014 to selling 34,749 in 2017 and 30,592 in 2018. It might be a good idea to but biases aside and give the Ridgeline a shot.