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Honda News & Reviews

The new Honda Ridgeline HPD

Which is it? The Honda Ridgeline HPD is a vehicle that thinks it’s a pickup truck. Or a sport utility vehicle with a bed. Or both. Usually, any person or thing with multiple personalities is not very good at either. Is that the case with this new pick-em-up from Honda? Hop in with Napleton News as we take a look.

Honda Ridgeline HPD Specifications

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

What is the Honda Ridgeline HPD?

The Honda Ridgeline is the second generation of the brand’s pickup truck. It’s based on a platform shared with the Honda Pilot SUV and features unibody construction rather than a body-on-frame arrangement. The Ridgeline can seat up to five passengers in its exclusive crew cab configuration. But there’s much more here that makes it worthy of a look.

The 3.5-liter V6 engine powering the 2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

Honda’s award-winning 3.5-liter V6 sidewinder powers the Ridgeline, delivering 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It mates up to a standard 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift levers. Also along for the ride: A heavy-duty automatic transmission cooler in cases of towing or driving up and down road grades. Previously offered in front or all-wheel drive, Honda realized that more customers are better served with grip at all four corners. As a result, every 2021 Ridgeline is delivered exclusively with the i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system. The torque-vectoring AWD system can send up to 70-percent of the power to the rear wheels.

The upside to all of this is that the 2021 Honda Ridgeline can carry up to 1,583 pounds of payload in its pickup bed and is capable of up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. And even better than that, it feels more like driving an SUV rather than a truck, thanks to its multilink rear suspension.

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

The Ridgeline is available in Sport, RTL, RTL-E and Black Edition trim lines. An additional trim level exists with the HPD model (For Honda Performance Development). It includes bronze alloy wheels, fender flares and a special grille.

What’s new outside?

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

The exterior of the 2021 Honda Ridgeline has undergone a good “seeing to” that gives it a tougher appearance than before. Start with a new, more upright grille that features a blacked-out trim strip running across the top. It adds a perfect counterpoint to the blingy LED headlights on either side of the front end. Even the power-bulged hood is new.

A rear view of the 2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

The Ridgeline has received a slight widening of its track, so that vehicle stability has improved. At the rear are a pair of exhaust dumps through the rear bumper. The pickup bed is one of the shining stars on this Honda truck. Consider:

  • The width of the pickup bed is sufficiently large to accommodate 4-foot wide sheets of plywood.
  • The Ridgeline’s dual-action tailgate works like a conventional pickup tailgate and as a car door, swinging open to the non-traffic side of the vehicle.
  • A lockable storage bin under the bed floor can securely hide tools and equipment or serve as a party-central style cooler (complete with drain plug). Order the RTL or RTL-E trim package for its available power outlet and rear bed audio speaker system.
  • The bed is made of a scratch- and dent-resistant composite material that dispenses with the need for a spray-in bed liner.

There’s a whole lotta sharing going on.

Since the Honda Ridgeline and the Pilot share platforms, it would be logical to think there is a lot of commonality between the two. Some have said the inside of the Pilot, er, Ridgeline is so comfortable that occupants could forget there is a pickup box in the way-back. And you would be right.

The Ridgeline Sport interior.

Our Ridgeline Sport model included satin silver trim pieces across the instrument panel and other important pieces inside the cabin. Fabric seating inserts are new this year and are cool with contrast stitching. Overall, we are genuinely impressed with the comfort and spaciousness of the Ridgeline.

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

Fancy a 55-inch large-screen TV? The second-row seat cushion flips up for underseat storage or can remain up with enough space to accommodate a full-size bicycle or other large bulky items. Either should fit easily with room to spare.

The audio system now has more appropriate icons and graphics than before. The 8-inch touchscreen display, while smaller than average, is still capable of doing a good job conveying what functions you are trying to access. New for 2021: a volume control knob to take over for the annoying slide controls that operated the previous year’s vehicle.

Behind the wheel of the new 2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD

Surprisingly quiet for a “truck,” the new Ridgeline is well suited for most drivers. In other words, if you are comfortable behind the wheel of an SUV, you should potentially have no problem behind the wheel of Honda’s truck.

Playing in the dirt.

Sure we would like a bit more than 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. But then we are reminded of that old motoring chestnut that it is always better to drive a slow car fast rather than a fast car slow. Don’t get us wrong; the Ridgeline is not a slow vehicle by any stretch. But we think that with extra power, the Ridgeline might sell itself. We think a baseline of 325 horsepower might be a good starting point.

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

On-road, the Ridgeline felt familiar as though it was any other refined Honda SUV. Off-road, moderate moguls are handled without difficulty. Although we never really felt it, the i-VTM4 AWD system threw extra torque rearward as needed, depending on wheel slippage.

Don’t overdo the skinny pedal when in the dirt, though! Watch your touch on the steering wheel and gently ease on the gas. Otherwise, you may find yourself in need of a tug!

The Honda Ridgeline HPD is on sale at Honda dealerships today.


2021 Honda Ridgeline
Popular Powertrains
Engine 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower 280 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic AWD
Fuel Economy 22 mpg (19 city/26 hwy)
Also Available RTL, RTL-E, Black Edition
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5 star
Max Seating Capacity 5
Wheelbase 125.2 inches
Overall Length 210.0 inches
Width 78.6 inches
Height 70.2 inches
Turning Diameter 44.4 feet
Headroom, Front 40.1 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.8 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 62 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 61.5 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 109.7 cu. ft.
Max Payload 1,583 pounds

This post was published on October 23, 2021

Mark Elias

I've loved everything on wheels: Trains, Planes and definitely Automobiles. I am constantly in search of the latest in new technology, which makes our lives better each day, but will always respect the classics. You can't continue forward without first taking a look back at where you've been.

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