Honda Canada introduces redesigned 2017 RidgelineMar 16th, 2016
Mid-sized pickup has largest cabin in four-door segment — and has a built-in cooler.
After taking a moment not only to recognize the multiple awards already won by the new 2016 Civic — including AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year — Honda Canada’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Jean-Marc Leclerc, went on to recognize the efforts of the many individuals at Honda involved in designing and producing the model.
A special mention went to the more than 4,000 employees at the company’s Alliston, Ont., facility, which has the honour of being the global lead plant for this all-new model.
The headline act of the automaker’s news conference, however, was the completely redesigned 2017 Ridgeline mid-sized pickup truck.
Based heavily — as before — on the company’s Pilot three-row crossover, the Ridgeline benefits from that vehicle’s recent large-scale upgrades. While it continues to be available exclusively in a four-door, crew-cab/short box configuration, a front-drive only version will be offered for the first time. AWD models will use Honda’s i-VTM4 AWD system, which features segment-exclusive torque vectoring capability.
Unique in the U.S. and Canadian pickup truck market is the Ridgeline’s unibody construction; all of the Ridgeline’s competitors use traditional body-on-frame construction. Perhaps in an effort to play that down, where the previous Ridgeline had unusual flying buttresses between the back of the cab and (odd-looking) tapering box sides, the new model looks much more conventional, right down to having a visible parting line between the box and cab. The space efficiencies of a unibody have benefits, however: Honda claims that the Ridgeline has the largest cabin in the 4-door, mid-size pickup segment.
The Ridgeline’s sole engine choice will be a newly direct-injected 3.5 litre V6 and six-speed automatic transmission, shared with the latest Pilot. Honda is targeting best in-class acceleration and fuel economy. I would not predict much, if any, increase from the previous Ridgeline’s 5,000 lb (2268 kg) maximum towing capacity.
Where the Ridgeline clearly betters its rivals is in the versatility of its cargo box, which carries over the previous model’s unique two-way tailgate (it folds down conventionally or swings open) and large in-bed storage compartment. The former allows easier access to items in the bed, while the latter provides weathertight, lockable storage beneath the floor of the bed that can also be filled with ice and used as a cooler, complete with drains.
If a built-in cooler wasn’t enough, Ridgeline ownership offers potential tailgate-party supremacy with an available 400 watt AC inverter and the industry’s first in-bed factory audio system, this one utilizing a 540 watt amplifier to energize six “exciters” that use the bed’s composite walls as speakers. Booyah!
When play turns to work, the Ridgeline is also the only mid-size truck with a 48-inch span between its wheel arches, making it the only mid-sizer capable of carrying standard-sized building materials flat, up to an expected maximum payload approaching 725 kg (1,600 lbs). Overall box size is up by 13.6 cm in width and 10 cm of length, giving it a 162 cm long bed — that’s five feet, four inches, pickup fans.
Sharing much of its forward structure and cabin with the Pilot should bless the Ridgeline with mature and refined dynamics. Notably, the commonality allows the Ridgeline to be optionally equipped with the company’s “Honda Sensing” suite of collision mitigation and driver aids.
The 2017 Ridgeline is expected to go on sale this spring.