By on June 22, 2022

2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport HPD Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6 (280 horsepower @ 6,000 RPM, 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

18 city / 24 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.8 city / 9.9 highway / 11.5 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $36,490 (U.S) / $49,440 (Canada)

As Tested: $40,860 (U.S.) / $51,821 (Canada)

Prices include $1,175 destination charge in the United States and $2,050 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

One of the things this author has always appreciated about the Honda Ridgeline is its car-like qualities. More than once, the phrase “Accord on stilts” has escaped my lips when talking about the Ridgeline with fellow auto scribes, and I meant it as a compliment.

Imagine my dismay to find that the refreshed 2021 Honda Ridgeline felt jussssst a bit more “trucky” than before.

Just a bit, though. As I tooled around town in this Ridgeline, I still felt it was more car-like than any other truck of its size.

Obviously, being “car-like” will be a detriment to some. Some folks want their truck to look and act tough, to be trail-ready. The Ridgeline’s new facelift certainly addresses the first part – it looks much more ready for the backcountry. And while I’ve not taken a Ridgeline of any year very far off the pavement, I’ve been told this current generation can do some light off-roading with ease. That said, the true off-roader will be shopping Chevy and Toyota.

To me, the appeal of a truck with a ride that’s reminiscent of a sedan lies in the use case. Not all truck buyers are venturing into the backwoods. The concert tailgater, the person hauling goods across town, the suburban landscaper – these folks should take notice. Boulder bashers need not apply.

Honda tells me the Ridgeline’s suspension hasn’t changed, but as I tooled around town, I felt the ride was just a teeny bit stiffer than it was the last time I drove one of these trucks. The HPD Package that my tester was equipped with was likely not the reason – this package adds fender flares, different wheels, a different grille, and different emblems and badging. That said, the change was barely perceptible – and I concede it could just be my imagination – and the Ridgeline remains more car-like, both in terms of ride and handling, than its competition.

Otherwise, the change in style doesn’t much change the guts. Not that everything stays the same – torque-vectoring all-wheel drive is now standard. The system automatically sends up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and continually shifts 100 percent of that torque between the left and right wheels based on driving conditions.

A 3.5-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and that power gets to the four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power is just fine, if unremarkably so, for the suburban commute.

Aside from the $2,800 HPD Package, this truck (remember, Sport is the base trim)came with items like a heavy-duty transmission cooler, Bluetooth, 18-inch wheels, all-season rubber, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, keyless starting, USB, tri-zone climate control, fold-up rear seat, dual-action tailgate, LED headlights and fog lamps, in-bed trunk, remote start, adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, and the $395 Radiant Red paint job.

Including the $1,175 destination fee, the total price was $40,860. Fuel economy is listed at 18/24/21.

The Ridgeline looks “truckier” now, but it retains its car-like ride/handling characteristics. It remains the truck for urbanites, tailgaters, and do-it-yourselfers who fill their weekends with jaunts to the Home Depot.

That’s not a bad thing, unless you simply must head to the off-road park each weekend. If you live your life on pavement, the Ridgeline will suit you just fine.

[Images © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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33 Comments on “2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport HPD Review – Slightly More “Truck” Than Before...”

  • avatar

    One passed on the highway. Twhimsy! wheels and plastic fender loners make it much less than tough, more like whimpy!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $40k is a great price for this vehicle, but I’m no longer a fan of V6 gas mileage.

  • avatar

    This is an embarrassing attempt by Honda to butch up an otherwise respectable vehicle. They should throw this on their minivan.

  • avatar

    Ironic. Traditional manufacturers have worked for decades to make pickups more car like. The most “car like” pickup on the market wants to be more “truck like”. The Ridgeline’s niche is a “car like” truck. Why risk screwing that up?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Transitioning is popular now.

    • 0 avatar

      Because aggressively off-roaded styled vehicles are super popular. Even soccer mom CUVs are covered in plastic fender flares these days. This HPD version is just that – they added bits to make it look more trucky, but it still rides and drives like a car due to the unibody and suspension setup. The only reason to buy this vs a regular RL is because you like the look.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    For car companies, isn’t the introduction of plastic cladding a sign of imminent demise?
    See: Pontiac

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    It’s a shame Honda doesn’t toss the Accord hybrid drivetrain in this. Instead of 50 mpg you might get 35-40, but the hps and torque would still be there with considerably better gas mileage….

    • 0 avatar

      That powertrain is at it’s limit as is, wrt how it is “geared.”

      Pulling the weight of the Ridge’, much less the Ridge’ with 5K lbs in tow, would require, either lowering the mechanical gear to the point it would redline at 60, or be a series hybrid all the time. Neither of which would be very effective.

      The Ridgeline, while not a diesel dually, still needs to pull 5K up the Grapevine in August. Without blocking traffic to the point of souring half of California on Hondas forever.

      The V6 is great (maybe good. It’s not an F450 specced solely for at-the-limit-towing…) for that. It doesn’t easily overheat, yet still provides reasonable real world empty fuel economy. At least once up to highway’ish speed. Like all larger ICEs sized for even occasionally running heavy: Where hybrids really kill them wrt economy, is in stop-and-go.

  • avatar

    They ditched the Honda six speed in favor of problematic nine speed. They need to bring ten speed in MDX to big Honda SUV platforms including this Ridgeline.

    Otherwise, it is a fine vehicle.

    The HPD package should be more than sticker and bronze wheels. I get the normal packages with leather and it is a good substitute for box on frame trucks if you don’t need their offloading capabilities, better towing and better looks.

  • avatar

    ??? Isn’t the Ridgeline pulled off the CRV, which is pulled off the Accord?

    Hardly a truck then but I have no problem with pavement focused trucks, like commercial vans. They would just work better for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      No. It is the bones of the Pilot/Passport. I don’t know how closely related (or if at all) to the Accord it is, but I believe the CRV is Civic derived.

      • 0 avatar

        At this point they’re really four separate component sets, but the CR-V and the Civic evolved from the same platform, and the Accord and Pilot/Passport/Ridgeline/Odyssey did as well.

  • avatar

    I wish Honda would stop trying to butch up the Ridgeline, Passport, and Pilot. They’re all good road cars already and don’t need the plastic bits glued on. I think Honda should focus more on increasing reliability and efficiency and, perhaps, adding some quirky innovative features in a similar vein as the Honda Element. They also really need to focus on electric drivetrains.

  • avatar

    If I’m buying a “carlike truck”, I’m going to spend ten grand less and buy a Maverick.

    • 0 avatar

      The RL is a bigger vehicle, about 10″ longer. Its basically Ranger sized. And per the internet the Mav (and likewise Santa Cruz) have beds that are too small to be usable. For me they are fine, but there will be a group that simply refuses to purchase such a tiny “toy” truck and moves up to the RL. The line between a compact and mid-size truck is very small. The RL is in the midsize category while the Mav would be considered compact despite having an interior that is basically midsize.

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove the Maverick with the Ecoboost (turbo) engine before deciding on the RL. I found the Maverick to be far less refined and a lot noisier than the RL. The interior is also cheaper feeling than the RL. Another issue with the Maverick is its limited availability, resulting in large markups. I originally preferred the smaller size of the Maverick over the RL, but there have been times when the larger size has come in handy. The drivability and handling of the RL is great – very car like. I used to have a Mazda CX-9 a few years ago, and I have to say that I enjoy the RL better – a perfect balance of compliance and handling. It is also very refined and quite and is in fact as quite at my Model S at highway speeds. Negatives- its UI for the entertainment system is poor and gas mileage is so-so. Low 20s for city travel and high 20s for highway. If they had hybridized the engine, it would be a champ.

      • 0 avatar

        The complaint I see from other RL owners is the tech. My neighbor has a 1st gen one and its a bigger vehicle then expected. I got the same feeling from the Ranger, which is nearly full size in height.

        In order to hit the price point the Mav is cheap and noisy inside. Since Ford went with an order only system that was quickly overwhelmed by people trying to buy a decent, small, cheap truck, they stopped taking orders, thus they are impossible to find. Many Santa Cruz owners gave up waiting on Ford to build their order. Hyundai’s trucklet, while rare, does show up randomly at dealers.

        Come fall I’ll be trying to get a SC again, currently every dealer I speak with is MSRP +++ and I am not playing that game. My 20 year old Dakota continues to tow my boat so I don’t need a replacement… I just want one, especially with current gas prices.

    • 0 avatar

      I feel like they’re two very different kinds of vehicle. The Maverick is the smallest a vehicle can get and still be a pickup that’s usable in the US. Its passenger experience is like a very spartan subcompact crossover. The Ridge is much bigger, better-equipped, and oriented around comfort, with a passenger experience like a large crossover. The Ridge also has a lot more capability as a truck, which (just like the added comfort) may or may not be worth the money to any particular buyer.

      Oh, and the J35 is a dreamy engine that stomps all over the 2.0L EcoBoost in every respect, but obviously can’t get into the same universe of fuel economy as the Maverick hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      That is what I did and its small enough to fit in a smaller parking space, easier to maneuver, more efficient on gas and much less expensive. I don’t tow but I do occasionally haul things in the bed and I have been getting 40 to 50 mpg. I believe once the chip shortage and other shortages subside Ford will make more Mavericks and they will continue to sell well. If you don’t do much towing, don’t need AWD, and don’t go off road then the hybrid Maverick is the one to get it has more than enough power and it gets great gas mileage. It is not for everyone but for most people it is more than enough and those who need a large truck for towing the Maverick makes a great run about vehicle for commuting and running errands.

  • avatar

    $49,440 (Canada)

    As Tested: $40,860 (U.S.) / $51,821 (Canada)
    As usual, Canadians get roasted with a much higher price.
    I believe the only other country with crazy-ass new vehicle prices would be Australia.

  • avatar

    It’s great to read comments dumping on the more truck-like looks/cladding. None of you bought the old Ridgeline so why would your opinion on the new styling carry any weight? Their sales went up 28.56% year over year with the re-design.

  • avatar

    @goacom – I test drove a first generation Ridgeline/ It rode very nice and was roomy. It was a nice package. I could not get over the odd C-pillar and the sloping box sides. I would have been more likely to buy one in the current configuration.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Very good truck with the most hideous wheels on market today. Someone at Honda must be color blind.

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