Car review: 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor

Honda’s Ridgeline is the perfect vehicle for anyone looking for light-truck versatility and off-road capability while still maintaining best-in-class ride quality and handling.

My tester was the 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport, which seats up to five adults, delivers almost 25 miles per gallon down the highway, and includes a handy-dandy swing-gate or fold-down tailgate.

Ridgeline’s four-foot wide, composite bed is scratch and dent resistant, and wide enough for plywood or drywall sheets to be transported flat. It also includes an in-bed trunk and spare tile assembly that slides out for easy access and use as a work station.

The Ridgeline is offered in a choice of four trims: Sport, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition.

Powered by a 3.5-liter, VTEC V6 engine with variable cylinders mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, Ridgeline generates 280 horsepower with a payload capacity of 1,583 pounds and towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

Newly standard for 2021, Ridgeline’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system enhances controllability and traction management by automatically sending up to 70 percent of the engine’s 262 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels and continuously apportioning 100 percent of that torque between the left and right rear wheels based on driving conditions at each wheel.

“Truck enthusiasts have long recognized Ridgeline as an incredibly versatile and capable pickup, and now it’s got the rugged looks to match,” said Art St. Cyr, vice-president of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “The Ridgeline signals a new direction for our light-truck designs, one that more effectively communicates all the hard work that goes into making Honda pickups and SUVs such proficient on- and off-road performers.”

For those looking to take Ridgeline’s dynamic new styling to the next level, a new package created in collaboration with Honda Performance Development (HPD) answers the call. The new HPD Package ($2,800) adds a unique grille treatment, black fender flares, aggressive bronze-colored wheels, and special HPD graphics on the bed walls.

Inside, Ridgeline adds a physical volume knob for the audio system, and available wireless phone charging. All Ridgeline trims get new contrast stitching on the seats; Sport trims add new cloth seat inserts; and Sport, RTL and RTL-E trims have new dash, steering wheel and center console accents. Ridgeline’s spacious cabin offers top-class passenger comfort and rear-seat legroom, with a flat floor and foldaway 60/40-split rear seat bottoms, offering enhanced flexibility for carrying long and tall items in the cabin.

Creature comforts abound including a premium audio system with seven speakers, multi-view rear camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB ports, tri-zone climate control, steering wheel-mounted controls, push-button start, and a fold-down rear seat center armrest.

My tester also included an integrated trailer hitch and hardness, LED fog lights, LED headlights with auto-high beam, smart entry with security system, rear privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels, and walk away auto lock.

And what puts Ridgeline over-the-top in the light truck category is its Honda-Sensing driver-assist and safety suite. Honda adds adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system,

lane-keeping assist system and road departure mitigation safety features at no extra charge.

And with a base price of $36,490 (without destination charge), the Ridgeline Sport provides value for your hard-earned dollar.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline was designed and developed by Honda R&D America in California and Ohio, and is manufactured, along with its V6 engine, at its plant in Lincoln, Alabama using domestic and globally-sourced parts. For the 4th straight year, the Ridgeline ranked in the top 10 in the 2020 American-Made Index.

Base Price: $37,665

Price As Driven: $40,860

Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.