Though Toyota and Nissan jumped headlong into the compact/mid-size pickup-truck market with body-on-frame designs, Honda took a different approach and created a unit-construction crew-cab configuration based on its popular Pilot SUV. The 5-passenger Ridgeline has a car-like ride, good handling and fuel efficiency on par with most mid-size SUVs.
You'll Like The 2013 Honda Ridgeline If...
If you need the open-bed utility of a pickup truck, but you don't want the rough ride, clumsy handling and fuel-thirsty engine that often accompany such beasts, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline could be just the thing.
You May Not Like The 2013 Honda Ridgeline If...
If you need to tow more than 5,000 pounds or haul really heavy loads, you may want to look to a full-size V8-powered crew cab. The 2013 Honda Ridgeline's standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) setup is not ideal for serious off-road adventuring.
After a facelift last year, the Honda Ridgeline gets few changes for 2013. A rearview camera is now standard across the line.
While the Ridgeline's interior design is rational, the plastics Honda uses are hard and dull, devoid of any warmth. It creates a vaguely industrial feel reminiscent of designs from a decade ago. Things warm up when leather seating is added, though that's available only on the top-of-the-line RTL trim. In any case, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline's interior is highly functional, with lots of little storage bins throughout the cabin and a rear seat bottom that can be folded up to create an additional cargo space.
The unconventional 2013 Honda Ridgeline pickup truck shares much of its angular skin (and the platform underneath) with the Honda Pilot SUV. Most striking are the wide, flared C-pillars that add necessary rigidity to the structure but also create blind spots for the driver. The 2013 Honda Ridgeline's 5-foot bed can accommodate most dirt bikes or a single ATV, while the clever lockable under-floor trunk can hide a large cooler. Adding to the Ridgeline's flexible bed is a dual-hinged rear tailgate that can be folded down normally or swung open to the left.
Because its body and frame are formed as a single unit (as opposed to a separate body bolted to a separate frame, as are other pickups in this market), the 2013 Ridgeline can easily incorporate a sophisticated independent suspension. The Ridgeline's suspension is the principal reason it drives so well, with excellent steering response, minimal body roll and a comfortable, controlled ride. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is a proven powerplant that has no problem moving the 4,500-pound truck. Occasionally, the transmission seems to hesitate before responding to full-throttle input, and shifts can sometimes feel abrupt. Fuel efficiency is on par with V6-powered trucks from Toyota and Nissan, although we should point out that Ford's current V6-powered F-Series pickup truck actually gets slightly better mileage (15/21 mpg for the Ridgeline vs. 17/23 mpg for the V6 F-150).
You might have seen domestic pickup dealers offering thousands – or tens of thousands – off window sticker prices. That's yet another way the 2013 Honda Ridgeline is not your typical pickup truck. The base RT has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $30,000, while the top-of-the-line RTL with navigation takes you past $38,000. In an era of $50,000-plus Ford F-Series, this may look like a bargain. Conversely, if your last Honda purchase was a 1989 Civic, you may blow a gasket. The point is, the Ridgeline is neither a conventional pickup truck nor a conventional Honda. Check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers are paying in your area. The Ridgeline should hold its value pretty well over time, about on par with 4WD crew cabs in the category of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, and a few percentage points better than the Chevrolet Avalanche.
For active folks with a taste for adventure, Honda Variable Torque Management 4WD (VTM-4) is the most significant feature on the 2013 Honda Ridgeline. Generous comfort and convenience amenities, of course, are also included in the window sticker, even on the base RT. Standard equipment includes A/C, cruise control, an integrated trailer hitch, power windows and door locks, power-sliding rear window and 6-speaker, 100-watt audio system.
Honda, as usual, keeps it simple with just four well-equipped trim levels: Base RT, new Sport, mid-level RTS and up-market RTL. The RTS adds alloy wheels, 160 watts of audio, dual-zone climate control and an 8-way power driver's seat. The RTL includes leather seating, 18-inch alloy wheels, moonroof, Sirius/XM satellite radio and HomeLink remote. On the RTL navigation with voice recognition is available. And there are dozens of available dealer-installed accessories.
VARIABLE TORQUE MANAGEMENT (VTM-4) 4WD
Few technical features inspire confidence like 4WD. And, despite its lack of a low range, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline's VTM-4 does an admirable job of navigating the logging trail, winter snow or seasonal downpour. Diverting up to 70 percent of available power to the rear wheels aids towing.
If more trucks offered independent rear suspension (rather than a live axle), more trucks could offer an in-bed trunk. You have a cooler full of beverages? Put it back there! Need to conceal valuable items too messy to place in the cab? Put them back there!
Under the Hood
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline's 3.5-liter V6 offers ample horsepower (250), but that power arrives relatively high in the engine speed range: 5,700 rpm. In the big-pickup marketplace where everyone is talking V8s, HEMIs and EcoBoost turbocharging, the Honda's modest V6 might seem inadequate. But, over the road, with your biases left behind, you'll enjoy the V6's car-like refinement and oh-so-reliable longevity. It works with a 5-speed automatic transmission and Honda's Variable Torque Management full-time 4-wheel-drive system.
250 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
Though Toyota and Nissan jumped headlong into the compact/mid-size pickup-truck market, Honda took a decidedly different approach. Rather than bringing another body-on-frame pickup to the market, Honda created a unit-construction crew-cab configuration based on its popular Pilot SUV. The Ridgeline is a 5-passenger truck with a car-like ride, good handling and fuel efficiency on par with most mid-size SUVs. The Ridgeline also features a very clever mini-trunk beneath the bed's floor, something no other pickup offers. The 2013 Honda Ridgeline continues the original Ridgeline's success, with features consumers want in a package that is the only vehicle of its kind in the segment.