2021 Honda Ridgeline pickup roughs up soft reputation

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck sheds its soft skin for a more rugged look more befitting of a pickup truck than its underpinnings with the Honda Pilot three-row crossover SUV. A larger grille, a new front bumper with more intakes, and new LED headlights highlight the changes, Honda announced last week.

The broader, taller, more vertical grille supports a hood with a bulge that makes the front look more muscular. LED headlights flank the squared-off nose up top, and down low a more prominent skid plate separates side vents that funnel air through the bumper and around the front wheels. New 18-inch wheel designs with a slightly wider track buffs up the look, and in back the rear bumper better exposes twin exhaust pipes. 

To take it to the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro or Jeep Gladiator level, Honda Performance Development (HPD) offers a blacked-out cosmetic package with fender flares and bronze-colored wheels.   

2021 Honda Ridgeline

2021 Honda Ridgeline

2021 Honda Ridgeline

The utility might not improve, but a new volume knob helps things on the inside. Performance doesn’t change either, with the 9-speed automatic introduced on the 2020 Ridgeline carrying over with the same 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 used in the Pilot. Unlike most other trucks, front-wheel drive is standard and an available all-wheel-drive system can send up to 70% of the 262 pound-feet of torque to the rear axle, then shuttle all of that torque to either rear wheel.

The benefits of the Ridgeline’s unibody construction and powertrain shared with a crossover is a quiet, refined ride unusual in pickup trucks. Weekend home repair warriors might appreciate its dual nature and ability to carry 1,580 pounds in its 48-inch wide bed, and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. 

Assembled in Alabama, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline goes on sale early next year. Pricing will be announced then. 

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