2021 Honda Ridgeline

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
October 22, 2020

Buying tip

The Ridgeline Sport has all the safety and convenience tech most shoppers will need, and its comparatively bargain-basement price means we wouldn’t feel bad about using it as a pickup.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is the just-right pickup most users really need.

What kind of car is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline? What does it compare to? 

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is a mid-size pickup that splits the difference between crossover SUVs and utilitarian trucks such as the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Ford Ranger.  

Is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline a good car?

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Sold in Sport, RTL, and RTL-E trim levels, the 2021 Ridgeline scores a 7.0 out of 10 in our ratings, an excellent score for a pickup thanks to its crossover-like driving attributes and interior as well as its impressive utility.  (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Honda Ridgeline?

Honda tweaked the Ridgeline’s looks this year, giving it more conventional styling to look less like a soft crossover and more like a rugged truck. Its bones remain the same, though.

Additionally, a new Honda Performance Development model—that’s HPD, in Honda-speak—tosses in different styling with nifty bronze wheels. 

Otherwise, the Ridgeline is largely the same today as it was when the current model debuted for the 2017 model year. That’s no bad thing. Underhood, you’ll find 280 horsepower from a 3.5-liter V-6, shuffled to either the front or all four wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission. The optional all-wheel-drive system lacks the mud-plugging low range found in rivals, but most buyers won’t miss it. Tow ratings rise to 5,000 pounds.

The Ridgeline shares its structure with the Honda Pilot, which is one of our favorite SUVs. You’ll find a similarly spacious passenger compartment, with convenient controls and a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen that now incorporates an actual volume knob rather than a distracting slider. Five people fit easily and comfortably.

As for cargo, the Ridgeline has a composite bed that won’t rust and is exceptionally difficult to dent. Locking storage under the bed is convenient for parking lots, while the tailgate can be flopped downward like a conventional pickup or can swing to the side to make loading heavy items a little easier. 

The Ridgeline has standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. Crash-test results have been impressive, too. 

How much does the 2021 Honda Ridgeline cost?

Honda hasn’t said how much the refreshed Ridgeline will cost, but we expect pricing to be similar to the roughly $35,000 the automaker charged for the outgoing model. The loaded-up HPD is likely to crest $45,000. 

Where is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline made? 

In Alabama.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Styling

New looks this year make the Ridgeline look more like a pickup.

Is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline a good-looking truck?

Though it’s still not as beefy-looking as its rivals, the updated 2021 Honda Ridgeline has more a the broad-shouldered look to its front end than before. This year, its grille is oriented vertically, and is topped with a chrome brow that slices into upsized LED headlights. That’s enough for a 7 on our scale. 

The look works to convey a trucky look, at least until you hop inside. There, a dash largely shared with the Pilot and Passport crossovers has more graceful, flowing lines than we typically see from a truck. The upside: controls, such as the updated infotainment system, are easy to locate, and storage bins are all over the place.

New HPD bits include black fender flares and bronze-hue wheels, but no major functional upgrades.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Performance

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline rides and handles well for a pickup.

We rate the Ridgeline at 7 out of 10 for its performance thanks to good acceleration and a comfortable, controlled ride even on versions with taller wheels. 

How fast is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline?

The 2021 Ridgeline is peppy thanks to the 280-hp, 262 pound-feet of torque rating from its 3.5-liter V-6. The 9-speed automatic transmission makes good use of that power, sending it forward on base models or to all four corners on those with all-wheel drive. It accelerates smoothly and swiftly when it’s not laden with gear and people.

The Ridgeline can lug up to 5,000 pounds when equipped with all-wheel drive, which is enough for a basic utility or moving trailer. It can even lug a small car, though much more than that should have you looking at a bigger pickup. 

The Ridgeline rides and handles like a Pilot. It’s comfortable and smooth on almost any road surface, and the steering doesn’t have the remote and disconnected feel of most mid-size pickup trucks.

Is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline 4WD?

Honda offers four-wheel drive on the Ridgeline. An all-wheel-drive system with a lock button for deeper snow or muck is optional on the Sport and RTL and standard on RTL-E and Black Edition trims.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Comfort & Quality

There’s not a more useful pickup on the market for most drivers than the 2021 Honda Ridgeline.

Thanks to its crossover base, the Ridgeline has an exceptionally useful interior. We rate it at 8 out of 10 on account of its good front seats, its space for five people, as well as its highly-versatile bed with a built-in storage trunk.

Firm, supportive front seats are paired with a rear seat that can be folded up to increase weather-tight cabin storage if needed. 

The bed measures about 60 inches long and 50 inches between the wheel wells, meaning it’s on the small side for a pickup. Make no mistake, though: the Ridgeline is properly useful. A dual-action tailgate is hinged at the bottom or can be swung to the side to make loading heavy items easy. Our favorite feature might be the in-bed trunk, which can be hosed out, used as a cooler, or simply as water-tight storage. 

Honda even offers in-bed charging and speakers for excellent tailgating.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Safety

Tons of safety tech and good crash-test scores make the 2021 Honda Ridgeline a good choice.

How safe is the Honda Ridgeline?

Honda provides among the most comprehensive crash-test gear of any pickup as standard fare. Look for automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control on every Ridgeline. 

Crash-test scores have been good, too. The NHTSA rated last year’s truck at five stars overall. The IIHS granted it mostly “Good” scores, aside from the right-side small-overlap evaluation. Last year’s Ridgeline scored so-so for its headlights, but this year’s new units should light the way better. We’ll update this space when we know more, but for now the Ridgeline scores 8 out of 10 points.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Features

Honda offers a few well-equipped trims of the 2021 Ridgeline.

Which Honda Ridgeline should I buy?

Honda sells the Ridgeline in Sport, RTL, and RTL-E trim levels, and adds on a Black Edition or an HPD package to those models. We rate the range at 8 out of 10 for its standard and available features and for its value.

Unless you really want a sunroof or leather upholstery, we suggest sticking with the base Ridgeline Sport. Priced from about $35,000, it offers standard LED headlights, keyless start, cloth upholstery, power features, 18-inch wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Add all-wheel drive if you live where it snows or plan to leave the pavement; it’ll likely cost about $2,000. 

RTL editions gain leather upholstery, a power sunroof, a 10-way power driver seat and a power passenger seat, for about $3,000 more.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Honda Ridgeline?

The Ridgeline RTL-E gets all-wheel drive, blind-spot monitors, navigation, premium audio, and truck-bed speakers, all for about $45,000. Black Edition and HPD versions haven’t been priced yet.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Fuel Economy

By pickup standards, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline is fairly frugal.

Is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline good on gas? 

The EPA hasn’t rated the updated 2021, but with no major powertrain changes, we doubt last year’s ratings will change. We assign it a 4 out of 10.

Front-wheel-drive Ridgelines were rated at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined last year. Adding all-wheel drive dents those numbers to 19/24/21 mpg.

The Ridgeline uses regular unleaded.

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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