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2019 Honda Ridgeline Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.8

The 2019 Honda Ridgeline delivers great performance, but maybe not in the way you'd expect from a truck. Its V6 engine provides plenty of power and acceleration, and it gets great fuel economy for a nondiesel-engine truck. The Ridgeline delivers one of the smoothest rides in the class and has great handling for a truck, but it doesn't tow as much as rivals.

  • "Because of its four-wheel independent suspension, carlike interior, soft yet supportive seats, and torque-vectoring rear wheels on all-wheel-drive models, the Ridgeline drives more like a well-balanced, comfort-minded sedan. On the highway, its quietness, comfort, and visibility make it a great road-trip or long commute vehicle." --Automobile Magazine (2017)
  • "In fact, the whole driving experience will feel extremely familiar if you're coming from a modern crossover. The Ridgeline may look more like a truck now, but it doesn't drive like one." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "The new Ridgeline is as rough and ready as just about anything in the segment, yet offers an on-road driving experience that is lightyears ahead of any other compact truck." -- Left Lane News (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Ridgeline comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Many rivals come standard with a four-cylinder engine and offer a V6. The Ridgeline's V6 moves this truck with ease and provides plenty of power for driving around town or on the highway. A smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission comes standard.

According to EPA estimates, the front-wheel-drive Ridgeline gets 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Those ratings are above average for the class. All-wheel-drive models get slightly worse ratings: 18/25 mpg city/highway.

  • "The V6 engine is smooth, which gives the Ridgeline an effortless feel around town. And it feels punchy when you floor it to make a pass or merge onto the highway. It took our test truck 7 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph at the track, which is tops in the midsize pickup category." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "There's more than enough horsepower to get up small hills and hit highway speeds while pulling, and the brakes, at least in our short stint with a relatively small trailer, felt up to the task." -- Autoblog (2017)
  • "Acceleration is more than adequate with good punch throughout the range. The six-speed auto keeps things humming with smooth shifts between the gears." -- Left Lane News (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Ridgeline is the only truck to come standard with front-wheel drive. And while most rivals offer part-time four-wheel drive, this Honda offers all-wheel drive. The Ridgeline has the smoothest ride in the class, and it feels like a car when you're behind the wheel. The carlike ride means the Ridgeline also handles better than many competitors do.

  • "The Ridgeline's ride comfort is second to none as far as pickups go, with a much more settled feel that comes from its crossover SUV underpinnings." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "That solid base combined with a four-wheel independent suspension means the Ridgeline rides as nicely as a luxury crossover. Rough roads and even big potholes are no match for the Ridgeline." -- Left Lane News (2017)
  • "True to its unibody underpinnings, the Ridgeline rides and handles better than the Tacoma or Colorado. New for 2017 are Amplitude Reactive Dampers as seen on the Honda Pilot, with which the Ridgeline shares a basic platform. Driven back to back, the body-on-frame trucks seem to create bumps on roads where none existed in the Ridgeline. They're harsher and noisier in the cabin, too." -- Autoweek (2017)

Off-Roading

The Honda Ridgeline is available with all-wheel drive, and it can handle mud, snow, and more without issue. It's no Toyota Tacoma, however, which means it isn't as capable of climbing boulders and steep, rutted inclines. The available Intelligent Traction Management system lets you select a driving mode that matches the ground you’re traversing. The Ridgeline’s ride remains smooth while off-roading.

  • The Ridgeline's capabilities are like a crossover SUV's, but with an advanced traction management system that can handle snow, sand and dirt. It's fine for most people, but it lacks the underbody clearance, wheel articulation and low-range gearing that other 4WD pickups have for rockier territory." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "We also drove it off-road, where it performed better than expected. Those who want more off-road capability can turn to the Toyota Tacoma, but for trips to the cabin or through snow and mud, the AWD-equipped Ridgeline does the trick. We drove it in sand, and putting the new Intelligent Traction Management in Sand mode, felt the truck grip and regain traction to emerge from boggy sand." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Towing and Hauling

Towing is one area where the Ridgeline clearly lags the competition, though it's still serviceable. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. While some rivals can tow more than 7,500 pounds, the Ridgeline is still capable of towing a fishing boat or moving trailer.

The Ridgeline can haul up to 1,580 pounds when properly equipped, which is also less than some rivals, but by less than 100 pounds. Unlike some compact trucks, the Ridgeline's ride quality doesn't improve (and actually gets worse, according to some critics) while towing or hauling.

  • "The Ridgeline is a solid cargo hauler, inside and out. The crew cab's short bed is longer than competitors, has a higher payload rating, is the only one that holds 4-foot-wide plywood sheets, and has a lockable in-bed trunk and a two-way tailgate. Not a towing leader, but 5,000 pounds isn't shabby." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "I was able to test the Ridgeline while launching a small, 3,500-pound motorboat and, later, while trailering a Honda Pioneer side-by-side ATV and a TRX ATV with a combined weight of about 4,000 pounds. In both situations, I found the pickup to be capable of handling the loads with relative ease." -- CNET (2017)
  • Even if the figures aren't as favorable as Honda's research indicates, my experience using the Ridgeline to tow a 3,600-pound trailer loaded with a four-seater side-by-side and a Honda quad showed it to be fully up to the task in acceleration and deceleration as well as stability. The one caveat to the Ridgeline's towing ability is that where the conventional midsize trucks ride better once loaded, the Ridgeline rides worse. Bumps are felt more acutely at the rear end, and the nose floats a bit more, both symptoms of being closer to max capacity than its stick-axled alternatives." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)
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