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2019 Honda Ridgeline Review

2019 Honda Ridgeline Review

The 2019 Honda Ridgeline pickup is all the truck we need, but is it enough truck to be what buyers want?

Many buyers choose pickups that are purpose-built for scenarios that may arise only occasionally in the truck’s lifetime, but these capabilities come at the expense of ride quality, handling, and affordability.

The 2019 Honda Ridgeline is the pickup truck outlier that, while built on a crossover platform, does all the “truck stuff” well enough for most people but retains a smooth ride and comfortable interior.

That’s a unique advantage, and we’ve rated the 2019 Ridgeline at 6.7 out of 10. 

With a few small updates, the 2019 Ridgeline is a carryover from the year before. After a 2-year hiatus, the second-generation Ridgeline was released in 2017 and has remained largely unchanged since. Offered in front- or all-wheel drive, all Ridgeline models are powered by Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic.

Since the Ridgeline shares its underpinnings with the Honda Pilot, the ride and character are unsurprisingly more like a crossover than a standard pickup truck. The Ridgeline sits lower than other trucks and has a more controlled ride than its competitors. There are tradeoffs to this comfort, however: lower towing capacity and slightly less rugged off-road abilities.

Base models aren't opulently equipped and can't be equipped with all-wheel drive, but they offer a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a 5.0-inch display for audio without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. Top trim models are equipped like luxury trucks.

RTL-T versions are a sweeter spot and offer navigation, a larger touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for roughly $38,000.

Rated between 18 and 22 mpg, with all-wheel drive models less frugal than their front-drive counterparts, the Ridgeline gets truck-like fuel economy. Base model front-drive Ridgelines start at less than $30,000, while range-topping all-wheel drive Black Edition models will cost more than $43,000.

The Ridgeline’s slightly unconventional shape works well, and its interior is refined and comfortable.

The 2019 Ridgeline carries the basic shape of a pickup truck with some Honda quirks thrown in. More streamlined than a traditional truck, the Ridgeline shares several design points with its SUV cousin, the Honda Pilot. We’ve rated the 2019 Honda Ridgeline a 7 for its attractive interior and smooth exterior lines.

With the transition from first- to second-generation, Honda moved away from the buttressed-to-bed connection, opting instead for what looks like a far more traditional pickup truck shape than the Ridgeline models of years past. Front styling is accented by LED running lights, chrome grille strips, and fog lights tucked into the lower bumper. Black Edition models eschew chrome in favor of a blacked-out grille and Honda logo.

Looking very much like a Pilot up front, the similarities don’t end there. Interior design, including the dash and seating are very Pilot-like, and that’s not a bad thing. The Ridgeline has managed a large storage area between the front seats like the Pilot, and the extra space is helpful. Honda’s move to a more refined look for both models brought with it a more comfortable interior with soft-touch materials, wide instrument panels with easy to read gauges, and a gear lever for the Ridgeline in place of the Pilot’s push buttons.
The Ridgeline looks very much like any other pickup from the rear, with chrome bumper accents and large tail lights flanking either side.

The 2019 Ridgeline’s handling and on-road capabilities are plenty for most buyers but comes at the expense of towing and off-road muscle.

The Ridgeline won’t tow an oligarch-sized yacht like some trucks in its class, but a mid-size boat and five people are no problem. The 2019 Ridgeline scored 7 out of 10 for its composed and comfortable ride and smooth V-6 engine. 

Because the Ridgeline is built on unibody platform, it doesn’t have the rugged character of a body-on-frame truck, but the payoff is a level of comfort and refinement that traditional pickups can’t match. The Ridgeline drives far more like a family hauler than a pickup truck, with a more controlled ride and better handling. Compared with other mid-size pickups, the Ridgeline handles curves and cornering with much more agility, and the ride has much less bouncing and shaking than a body-on-frame vehicle.

All Ridgeline models come with Honda’s well-reviewed 280 hp 3.5-liter V-6 paired to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic. With a 0-60 mph run taking around seven seconds, the Ridgeline offers more acceleration than most truck buyers will need or use. The naturally aspirated V-6 produces plenty of muscular sound under heavy throttle but performs smoothly across the power band.

Without low-range gearing, the Ridgeline is not a solid off-road performer. All-wheel drive offers plenty of traction and electronic drive modes help the Ridgeline perform well in snow, mud, and sand. These settings change the transmission shift pattern to hold lower gears, move power to rear wheels, and soften throttle response. Nearly eight inches of ground clearance is acceptable for a pickup of this size, but the rear control arms leave only about six inches of travel.

Payload for the Ridgeline is comparable to others in its class, at 1,569 pounds. This puts the Ridgeline neck in neck with the Chevrolet Colorado. Max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds falls well short of 7,000 for the Chevy, which may rule the Ridgeline out for owners in need of a vehicle that can move heavier loads.

Comfort & Quality
The Ridgeline’s flexibility makes up for some of what it lacks in utility, but hardcore truck buyers may find better value elsewhere.

Combining some of the best SUV and truck elements, the Ridgeline offers a more pleasant experience than its competitors. Where it lacks outright truck capabilities, the Ridgeline makes up for it with comfort and unique features. For these reasons, we’ve scored the 2019 Ridgeline an 8 out of 10 for quality. 

The Ridgeline’s cabin has plenty of room for up to five adults and is comfortable enough for longer trips, even when fully loaded. Like the Pilot, the Ridgeline’s cabin is quiet and wide, besting competitors’ pickups. The front seats are flat, comfortable, and offer decent adjustability—even more so when optional power adjustments are added.

Rear seat accommodations are easily better than others like the Colorado or Tacoma, mostly due to the spaciousness of the interior. Comfort in the second row is aided by plenty of head and foot room with a rear door shape that allows easy entry and exit. The rear seat is also versatile, folding up against the back wall to allow for larger, more delicate cargo items to be transported inside the cabin.

Buyers looking for a wide, long pickup bed should look elsewhere. The Ridgeline is not a work truck, but it does offer some clever storage and cargo features that make it far more capable than an SUV. The bed measures 60 inches long and 50 inches between the wheel wells. This creates an interesting challenge, where wide but not long items fit, even with the optional bed extender.

Flexibility is where the Ridgeline shines, offering a folding or swinging tailgate to allow various loading options, eight tie-downs, a dry storage pocket, and several accessory options available from speakers to power inverters. Under the bed is a trunk that can act as a cooler, and is big enough to hold a golf bag.

The Ridgeline’s flexibility makes up for some of what it lacks in utility, but hardcore truck buyers may find better value elsewhere.

The Ridgeline is one of few pickups to be comprehensively tested, and it has performed well.

The 2019 Honda Ridgeline is a relative rarity among pickup trucks.

Few pickups are tested for crashworthiness by either major safety rating agency. The Ridgeline has been tested by both federal and independent testers. Additionally, few pickups offer automatic emergency braking—the Ridgeline offers it, albeit on top trims.

For those reasons it earns a 7 out of 10 on our safety scale.

The Ridgeline gets a top five-star overall rating from the NHTSA, with five stars in all but the rollover test, where it earns four stars. From the IIHS, the 2018 model grabbed the Top Safety Pick award, thanks to top “Good” ratings in all crash tests, a “Superior” rating for its front crash prevention system, and a “Good” rating for its headlights.

We expect the ratings to carryover to 2019. We'll update this space if it changes.

The Ridgeline is adequate in any trim but does not offer the tech and safety features many buyers demand until reaching higher, more expensive models.

With a reasonable starting price and an interesting feature set, the 2019 Ridgeline competes well in the increasingly pricey mid-size pickup segment. We’ve rated the Ridgeline 8 out of 10 for its clever features and nicely equipped base models.

The 2019 Ridgeline comes in six trims: RT, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and Black Edition. Starting at less than $30,000 for the RT model, trim and option additions push the price to more than $43,000 for the Black Edition.

RT trim level Ridgelines come with keyless ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, a 5.0-inch display for audio, USB audio, fold-up rear seat, and intelligent traction management. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility: not included.

Range-topping Black Edition Ridgelines come equipped with blacked out exterior and interior trim, special leather seating, 18-inch black alloy wheels, red LED ambient lighting, Navigation, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, truck bed audio, Honda Sensing, power moonroof, and a premium 540-watt audio system.

All-wheel drive is not available in base RT trim, optional in other models, and becomes standard with the RTL-E.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 Ridgeline offers only average fuel economy in a class that’s becoming more competitive with every passing year.

The 2019 Ridgeline matches its predecessor’s fuel economy numbers, achieving 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined, losing 1 mpg across the board on all-wheel-drive models. That’s just average, and with larger pickups becoming lighter each model year, the Ridgeline is becoming less competitive in this area. For these reasons, we rate the 2019 Ridgeline a 4 out of 10. 

Honda has not announced plans to bring a hybrid powertrain option to the Ridgeline, even though it shares much of its underpinnings with Acura’s MDX that offers a hybrid model. Others in the class, like Chevy’s Colorado, offer alternative powertrains like a turbodiesel, many of which handily outdo the Honda’s fuel economy.


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