Honda Ridgeline: The Car Connection's Best Pickup to Buy 2017

November 14, 2016

Pickup trucks are largely defined nowadays to what's possible rather than what's likely.

The arms race for superlatives has overcome domestics to the point of near-absurdity—maxing out capacities on many of the big boys nearly requires a commercial drivers license and a parking space the size of a battleship dry dock.

The 2017 Honda Ridgeline focuses instead on what's probable, nailing the details so well that it's our Best Pickup to Buy 2017. By nearly every quantifiable measure, the Ridgeline is the pickup we need—perception has skewed the market well beyond that point.

MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2017 awards

By our eyeballs, the Ridgeline is firmly a mid-sizer and draws a line directly to the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, and GMC Canyon as its main competition. Unlike the twins from General Motors, the Ridgeline's box measures 50 inches across—wider than those two—and can lay flat 4-by-8 sheets of building material in the bed with the tailgate down. Eight, 350-pound tiedowns can secure more than 1,800 pounds of cargo in the bed, a 7-pin connector and hitch can hook up to 5,000 pounds to the tail if that's not enough.

Like most mid-sizers, the Ridgeline is powered by a V-6. The Ridgeline's only powerplant makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque and is shuffled through a 6-speed automatic that helps it manage up to 21 mpg combined with all-wheel drive—on par with the V-6 powered Canyon/Colorado and Tacoma mid-sizers.

Yet, it's the Ridgeline's ability to do what most full-sizers are asked to do in the real world that puts it at the top of our list.

We'll concede that spec hunters will find longer beds, more towing and payload capability, and grilles large enough to attract small objects into orbit, but the Ridgeline's case is strengthened with every unladen, four-door pickup on the road today. Simply put, a majority of the truck buyers simply don't need the capability of a full-size or heavy-duty truck.

The Ridgeline's shared running gear with the Pilot makes the Honda more manageable, easier to enter, and more comfortable as a car replacement than most other full-sizers. Its thoughtful additions of a lockable bed box and torque vectoring only add to the impressive list of conveniences that make the truck easier to drive and live with—and that's before we even bring up the in-bed speakers that solidifies the Ridgeline's position in the tailgating hall of fame.

READ: The Car Connection's 2017 Honda Ridgeline first drive

Yes, the new Ford Super Duty is a very good and capable truck. Its exemption from standard fuel economy tests or most standard safety tests disqualifies it from our competition, however. Those trucks are on an upward trajectory in price and size that could crest common sense for most everyday buyers soon.

For the 90 percent of us who like the versatility of a truck's open bed, but don't like the idea of using a step ladder to mount the cab it's attached to, the Ridgeline makes a compelling case as the most practical new pickup on sale today starting at just over $30,000. 

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