This week I am behind the wheel of the Honda Ridgeline Sport mid-sized pickup. This 3rd generation Ridgeline was redesigned for 2021 with an all-new frontend from the windshield forward, and some new packages. The Ridgeline rides on the same chassis as the popular Honda Pilot SUV.
Under the new hood, you find the very reliable 3.5 VTEC V6 that is naturally-aspirated, with no turbos. It is mated to a 9-speed automatic with shift paddles, and together they emit 280-horses and 262-pound feet of torque. New for 2021, all Ridgelines are all-wheel drive and can transfer 70% of the power to the rear wheels.
Also new for 2021, my tester has the HPD package ($2,600) which stands for Honda Performance Development. In this package, you get bronze 18” alloy wheels, fender flares, a unique grill, and HPD decals. This completes a more rugged and muscular look for the Ridgeline, it also has dual exhaust, and LED headlights and fog lamps.
Inside the Ridgeline Sport, you’ll find cloth seating in front that is comfortable and has fold down armrests for both the driver and passenger, but no power seat on either side. There is minimal stitching on the door panels and the seats, and there were more soft touch materials than I expected to find.
There are configurable gauges on the center of the dash, including a digital speedometer, and it is all simple to operate from the steering wheel. Just to the right of the steering wheel is the push button start and an 8” touchscreen.
From there, you operate the Bluetooth for your phone, all audio settings including Apple Carplay and Android Auto, a multi-view rear camera, settings, and Honda Link, Honda’s real-time information system. There are also apps that you can use. I was disappointed there was no HD radio.
The center console has buttons for the transmission, a couple of cup holders, a power outlet, and you can turn off the start/stop system. There is also a huge storage area with a sliding cover.
Moving to the back seat, it offers a lot of legroom and really good headroom as well. Back seat occupants have air conditioning vents and a nice center armrest. Both sides of the back seat fold up out of the way, and there is storage under the seats.
A cool feature that has always set the Ridgeline apart is a massive trunk that sits under the surface of the pickup bed. It is lockable and it has a drain plug if you want to use it as an ice chest. It has a massive 7-cubic feet of storage area.
Also cool, the tailgate will open down like most pickups or you can open it from the side and swing it out. This is an incredibly handy feature for getting things into the bed. My tester does not have it, but you can get speakers built into the bed, which would be awesome for tailgating.
Ridgeline comes with Honda’s Sensing safety system, which gives you adaptive cruise control, emergency braking mitigation, lane keep assist, and road departure mitigation. Sadly, Honda missed the safety feature everyone really wants: blind spot monitoring. Serious mistake not to include that in the safety package.
Ride and Drive
The Ridgeline offers a great ride, something hard to find in a midsized truck. The inside noise level is very low, handling is good, and I found the steering to be responsive with good feedback. Acceleration was quite good, which I did not expect, but it is there.
Capability and Fuel Economy
Ridgeline is capable, too, with 5,000 pounds of towing capacity and surprisingly, it has 1,569 pounds of cargo capacity.
Fuel economy is really good at 18 in town, 24 on the highway, and 21 combined. The price point is really quite good with an MSRP of $40,860 before any rebates or discounts.
In summary, the Ridgeline is not for everyone and although this HPD package looks really good, I’ve always found this truck to look quirky and odd. However, if you get past that, it’s useful, capable, and most importantly, it’s a Honda, so you know it’s reliable and durable.
2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport HPD
- What I liked most: The value position and driving dynamics.
- What I would change: No blind spot monitoring? C’mon Honda!
- MSRP: Base price $36,490 as equipped $40,860 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: 18 city/24 highway/21 combined.
- Official Color: Radiant Red.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1100 miles.
- Weight: 4,436 pounds and 6,019 GVWR.
- Spare Tire: Compact spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 210.2” long/78.6” wide/70.8” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.5 gallons of gas with filler on the driver side.
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 pounds
- 2021 Ridgeline in a few words: The debate rages on: Is this a real pickup? The answer is yes, it is, but is more car-like than its competition.
- Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Lincoln, AL.
- Manufacturers website: Honda
- Up next: 2021 VW I.D. 4 electric SUV.
2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport HPD.