Calgary’s Greg Myslicki likes what he sees in Honda’s ‘El Camino on steroids’

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition
Greg Williams     by  GREG WILLIAMS  | MAY 24, 2017

CALGARY — Greg Myslicki remembers vehicles like the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero. Decades later, Myslicki puts those niche products and the redesigned 2017 Honda Ridgeline in the same category.

“The Ridgeline is like a crew cab El Camino on steroids,” he said. Not a fan of Honda’s first-generation truck, Myslicki’s perception has shifted after a week in the new Ridgeline Black Edition.

“I never liked the look of the first-generation Ridgeline,” he said. “But this was a complete 180 for me. I really like the new front-end design; to me, it looks understated and very clean. I know it’s not a heavy-duty truck, but it’s got a great presence on the road.”

Honda says the new Ridgeline is a midsize pickup truck that offers a rugged package suitable for weekend warriors or everyday workers. Completely redesigned inside and out, the 2017 Ridgeline is longer, lower, wider and lighter than its predecessor. Setting the Ridgeline apart from other pickups is Honda’s use of unibody construction; there is no underlying frame to the vehicle. Fully independent front and rear suspension systems provide a plush ride and, as Myslicki discovered, better than expected handling.

“I realize it’s not a sports car,” Myslicki said of the Ridgeline Black Edition, priced at just under $51,000 including freight and PDI. “But this truck was nimble and quick off the line. I think it had impressive performance for a V6 engine, and the transmission shifted very smoothly and responded quickly to driving situations.”

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

Starting at about $38,000 for the base LX trim, all Ridgelines are powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Every Ridgeline is also equipped with Honda’s new Intelligent Variable Torque Management (iVTM-4) torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system.

Myslicki learned to drive using a 1964 Chevrolet Biscayne sedan, and his first set of wheels was a 1964 Volkswagen Notchback. The first car he bought new was a 1980 Pontiac Trans Am. Apart from a 2001 Volvo S60 he also bought new, all other vehicles have been purchased used and self-maintained; he had a 1989 Oldsmobile Royal 88 that had covered more than 500,000 kilometres when he retired the ride, and currently drives a 2002 Buick Regal with more than 185,000 kilometres on the odometer. Myslicki commutes to work using a bicycle, but as an avid golfer he’s often on the road to either local or farther-flung courses.

“I really liked the two-way tailgate,” Myslicki said of the ability to either drop it down or swing it open to the side. “When it swings, it opens toward the driver’s side, so it makes curbside loading a breeze. It also allows you to easily get to the in-bed trunk.

“As a golf fanatic, you could put two bags of clubs in that trunk. The bottom bag had to have the drivers pulled out, but the second bag fit right on top. The trunk was a great feature because it’s lockable, and nothing would get wet in there.”

At 5 feet 9 inches tall, Myslicki said getting into the Ridgeline wasn’t a chore, but he could see adding a set of Honda’s accessory running boards. The 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat was simple to set, and Myslicki appreciated the fact Honda equipped the Ridgeline with a dead pedal – a place where a driver can brace the left foot.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

“Interior fit and finish was like a luxury sedan or SUV,” he said of the black and red leather-appointed cabin. “There was really good visibility with no major blind spots, and the dash was well laid out.”

What really impressed Myslicki was the tight turning radius and the observed fuel economy; he said the numbers he generated were close to Honda’s claimed figures of 12.8 L/100 km in the city and 9.5 on the highway. Furthermore, he was pleased with the ride, as the truck didn’t shake or roll and the suspension easily soaked up bumps.

One very small complaint Myslicki had was regarding the stereo system: “It had great sound, but I’d always quickly press the left and right arrow buttons expecting it to change stations, and instead it would change the source from AM to FM or Sirius.”

Summing up, Myslicki said, “I’d consider buying one, but I’d like to test out the all-wheel drive system a bit more. I didn’t get to drive it in the snow.

“For me, Honda has a niche vehicle here. It rides like a luxury SUV but if you needed to haul something, you can do it very easily. It’s got great comfort, great handling and great utility.”