From City Slicker to Country Boy: 2021 Honda Ridgeline Gets Rugged

from city slicker to country boy 2021 honda ridgeline gets rugged

As much as we try to cover the news without bias here at TTAC, it would untrue to say that those of us on staff don’t have certain vehicles we like more than others. Our Slack channel is often filled with discussions about how this car or that crossover is good or bad and why. We all have certain vehicles we’d put our own money down on.

Adam has shown Bronco love. Chris has Nissan on the brain. I have a weakness for hot hatches, Impalas from the mid-60s and mid-90s, all sorts of quirky vehicles, and Fox-body Mustangs (the current pony car is pretty damn good, too). Our last news guru had a thing for old cars. Corey insists on making up words to describe cars with taillights that run from side to side without interruption.

Tim Cain even bought a Honda Ridgeline. Which, as it happens, is something I would also like to do, if I needed a truck, which I don’t.

That brings us to, yes, you guessed it, the Honda Ridgeline.

I like the current Ridgeline for its Accord-on-stilts car-like ride, its tailgate-friendly tricks, and the fact that Honda hasn’t tried to make a mid-size truck that’s probably more at home on city streets (despite being, by all accounts, quite capable off-road – yours truly has only driven one on the street) into some faux-rugged rig.

Until now.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is redone, and the biggest changes are fore of the A-pillar. That’s a new hood with a power bulge – no, that’s not a term referring to a body part on a certain type of film star – a more “upright” grille, a squared-off nose, new front fenders, LED headlights, and a grille crossbar that’s either Gloss Black or chrome, depending on trim.

There’s a new front bumper that ads air vents on the sides to improve aerodynamics and has more body color than before. There’s also a skid plate, which is both there to protect the undercarriage and make the truck look tougher. The rear bumper is reshaped and the two twin exhaust tips are redone, as well. With the tips being more exposed than before.

The 18-inch wheels are also changed to look off-road ready and the all-season tires get a more aggressive sidewall. The track is widened by 20 mm. New options packages include a Honda Performance Development package that offers bronze wheels, a different grille treatment, black fender flares, and HPD graphics.

All that gives the truck a more rugged look, as if it changed from a suit to flannel for the weekend up at the cabin by the lake.

Inside, the infotainment system gets updated/improved graphics, different icons for the touchscreen, and an actual volume knob. Sport-trim trucks get new cloth inserts, while all trims have new contrast stitching for the seats. Sport, RTL, and RTL-E trims get new accents for the dash, steering-wheel, and center console.

The Alabama-built Ridgeline will remain powered by the 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque and mates to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

I may be in the minority, because I prefer the “citified” looks of the outgoing truck. Others may approve of the “truckier” looks more than myself, and still others will be happy to see that there’s more differentiation from the Pilot crossover.

Love it, like it, or loathe it, this is the next Ridgeline. Pricing has yet to be revealed. The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is set to launch early next year, according to the press release.

[Images: Honda]

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2 of 32 comments
  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT CKNSLS Sierra SLT on Oct 08, 2020

    These things have only sold in excess of 40,000 units (annually) three times since 2005. They are an extremely poor seller. Many think with this refresh if sales don't increase it will be the end of the road for the Ridgeline.

  • Petey Petey on Oct 09, 2020

    The Honda Ridgeline is a great truck for people who dont want or need a truck. Therefore, i see it as being pointless. The odyssey with its dry and secure cargo area would be better suited for most people. The worst part about the ridgeline, the price, and the fuel economy. A full size truck, with more then twice the amount of torque and capability, can somehow get similar fuel economy, and cost nearly the same! There is something seriously wrong with that picture.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.