2011 Honda Ridgeline Review and Prices
Past and Future Reviews
The 2011 Honda Ridgeline is the best truck for you if you think outside the pickup box.
The 2011 Honda Ridgeline carries over unchanged from the 2010 Honda Ridgeline. It continues as a one-of-a-kind pickup, rejecting the truck-traditional body-on-frame formula for car-type unibody engineering. The 2011 Ridgeline is usefully strong, cleverly versatile, remarkably comfortable, and wincingly ugly.
Should you buy the 2011 Honda Ridgeline or wait for the 2012 Honda Ridgeline? Buy a 2011 Honda Ridgeline. No reason to wait when great deals are available and no big changes are afoot for model-year 2012. Plus, choosing a 2012 Ridgeline shoves you one year closer to this pickup’s approaching redesign, meaning a shorter shelf life for its engineering and features.
2011 Honda Ridgeline Changes back to top
Styling: Competitors offer lower-cost regular- and extended-cab bodies and a choice of bed lengths up to 6 feet. By contrast, the 2011 Ridgeline continues with the single crew-cab body and 5-foot-long cargo bed it’s had since its model-year 2006 introduction. It also keeps the styling that suggests this merely is a crossover SUV that’s strapped on a short cargo box. In reality, Ridgeline’s unibody structure integrates a very rigid boxed frame. This Honda feels as solid as any body-on-frame rival. OK, there’s no denying the ungainly styling. Particularly homely are the hindquarters, where the unusually high-walled cargo box blends seamlessly into the sheet metal of the cab. Absent is the gap that’s a hidebound element of traditional pickups. But those high bed walls add strength and aid aerodynamics. The cargo bed is just 5-feet long – among the shortest in pickup land. But that helps keep Ridgeline’s overall length shorter than that of most compact-class crew-cabs, so it’s easier to garage. And no rival has a below-floor trunk. Ridgeline’s lockable compartment hides a functional 8.5 cubic feet of storage space. The 2011 Ridgeline also is the only pickup with a dual-action tailgate; it hinges down and opens to the side. Ridgeline’s sedan-like greenhouse and low hood line also defy old-school pickup custom. The high-hat cab pays off with full-size-pickup-caliber front-seat room and with rear-seat accommodations that go far beyond those of any compact pickup and into midsize-SUV territory. And while the sloping hood line and nerdy grille erase any notion of fist-in-your face styling, they pay off in great forward visibility. The 2011 Ridgeline returns in four levels of trim: base RT, better-equipped RTS, leather-upholstered RTL, and top-line RTL with navigation. There’s little to differentiate them visually, though the RTS has 17-inch alloy wheels and body-color trim to the RT’s 17-inch steel wheels and dark trim. And RTLs have 18-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps.
Mechanical: The 2011 Ridgeline continues its renegade ways as the only pickup with front and rear independent suspension. Borrowing some of the engineering acumen Honda applies to its similarly size Pilot crossover SUV, Ridgeline’s independent suspension gives it the sharpest handling and most compliant ride of any small truck. Conventional wisdom says a separate frame and a solid rear axle are essential for good load-carrying ability, but credit Honda with providing Ridgeline a payload capacity of around 1,500 pounds, among the best of any compact crew cab. Just as the cab and bed choice is one-size-fits-all, so is Ridgeline’s allegiance a single powertrain -- and that’s unchanged for 2011. The sole engine/transmission combo is the same 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic found in the Pilot. Acceleration is lively and smooth. Like Pilot – but unlike any other pickup -- Ridgeline is essentially a front-wheel-drive vehicle; all other pickups are based on rear-wheel-drive designs. Ridgeline actually comes standard with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that normally runs in front-wheel-drive but can redirect power to the rear wheels during acceleration and low-traction conditions. Rival pickups have on-demand four-wheel-drive (4wd) systems that include low-ranging gearing for serious off-road driving. Ridgeline isn’t intended as a hard-core bolder basher, but it does provide added grip via an instrument-panel button that locks in power to the rear wheels at up to 18 mph. And unlike competitors’ 4wd systems, which can’t be left engaged on dry pavement without risking drivetrain wear, Ridgeline’s AWD engages automatically on any surface without requiring driver intervention. The 2011 Ridgeline’s 5,000-towing capacity compares favorably with that of any crew-cab V-6 compact pickup. Standard equipment for towing includes an integrated tow hitch, transmission and oil coolers, heavy duty brakes, and dual radiator fans. Also standard are four-wheel disc brakes with antilock capability and for more controlled stops and an antiskid system to mitigate sideways slides.
Features: The 2011 Honda Ridgeline returns with a long list of standard and optional features but, per Honda custom, it doesn’t offer individual options. Rather, Honda compels you to ascend the model line to acquire additional amenities. That doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for Ridgeline buyers: Honda says the best-selling model in the line is the generously equipped RTL, which is priced around $35,000. Standard on each 2011 Ridgeline are head-protecting curtain side airbags for both seating rows; they deploy in side collisions or when sensors detect an impending rollover. Also included on every trim level is a trip computer that calculates instantaneous and average fuel economy; air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; power windows and locks; a power sliding rear window; cruise control; keyless entry; and a 60/40 split lift-up rear seat with under-seat storage. The 2011 Ridgeline RTS adds to the RT alloy wheels; body-color door handles; painted inner grille surfaces; dual-zone automatic climate control; an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support; deep-tint windows; and all-weather floor mats. The 2011 Ridgeline RTL adds to the RTS the 18-inch alloys and fog lights, plus leather upholstery with heated front seats, a moonroof, remote garage-door controls, carpeted floor mats, and a compass in the rearview mirror. A satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition is available only on the RTL; it includes Bluetooth cell-phone linking and a backup camera. The Ridgeline RT’s audio system is a six-speaker, 100-watt unit with a single-disc CD player. Other 2011 Ridgeline models have a seven-speaker 160-watt system with subwoofer and six-disc in-dash changer, plus steering wheel audio controls and an auxiliary input jack. RTL models add XM satellite radio, but a USB interface for iPods is unavailable.
2011 Honda Ridgeline Prices back to top
The 2011 Honda Ridgeline prices range from $29,680-$37,610. (Prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2011 Ridgeline is $780.) The 2011 Ridgeline prices represent a modest increase over 2010 Ridgeline prices, with the RT model increasing by $450 but all other versions up just $50. Honda, however, tacks on an additional $70 to the 2011 destination fee.
Honda says the $450 bump for the 2011 Ridgeline RT essentially recoups the price decrease placed on the 2010 version of this model, when the automaker hoped to spur sales from value-conscious shoppers. That strategy didn’t yield results. Buyers continued to favor the more expensive models in the line and so the price of the 2011 RT was brought back into step with that of other Ridgelines.
Judged strictly on base prices, the 2011 Ridgeline continues to be more expensive than most compact pickups and as costly as some full-size pickups. It’s important to note, though, that Ridgeline’s “base” pricing reflects this truck’s relatively high-level of standard specification and the absence of stand-alone options. Equip a rival crew cab with four-wheel drive, automatic transmission, an engine roughly equivalent to Ridgeline’s 250-horsepower V-6, and any price gap closes rapidly.
The 2011 Honda Ridgeline RT is priced at $29,680 and the 2011 Honda Ridgeline RTS is priced at $32,385.
Price for the 2011 Ridgeline RTL is $35,260 and the 2011 Honda Ridgeline RTL with the navigation system is priced at $37,610.
2011 Honda Ridgeline Fuel Economy back to top
The 2011 Honda Ridgeline fuel-economy ratings are unchanged from 2010 levels.
All Ridgelines rate 15/20 mpg city/highway and are tuned to run on 87-octane gas. These figures are about par for a compact crew cab with a V-6 engine and four-wheel drive.
2011 Honda Ridgeline Release Date back to top
The 2011 Honda Ridgeline went on sale in July 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Honda Ridgeline back to top
Ridgeline has never been a big seller, but this family-friendly pickup gives Honda a presence in a vehicle class without requiring significant additional development costs, so all signs point to the automaker fielding a second-generation version.
No manufacturer is better than Honda at keeping future plans secret, however, so the crystal ball is cloudy. Honda’s product cadence suggests the second-generation Ridgeline will be launched as a 2012 model, but our sources say it won’t arrive before mid 2012 as a model-year 2013 vehicle.
Details of its design also are subject to debate. Despite favorable reviews and good showings in comparison tests against traditional compact pickups, Ridgeline has never achieved much acceptance beyond a rather narrow band of buyers who recognize its virtues and don’t feel a need for anything more overtly rugged – or more macho-looking.
Nonetheless, expect the second-generation Ridgeline to look a little tougher than today’s model. Honda won’t abandon the basic formula of reinforced-unibody construction and all-independent suspension, however. Alternative cab styles and perhaps more cargo-bed choices are possible in an effort to broaden its market appeal. A four-cylinder engine could supplement the V-6, but write off notions of a V-8.
The four-cylinder engine would benefit fuel economy. So would putting the next-generation Ridgeline on a diet. At some 4,500 pounds, it’s among the heavier compact crew cabs, and some sources say Honda wants to trim at least 400 pounds as part of any redesign.
2011 Honda Ridgeline Competition back to top
Toyota Tacoma: Since Ridgeline comes only as a four-door crew cab, we’ll limit the competitive set to that configuration. This eliminates the popular Ford Ranger, which doesn’t offer a crew cab. No list of rivals can ignore the Tacoma, which offers regular-, extended-, and crew-cabs and is by far the top-selling compact pickup in America. With its celebrated off-road ruggedness and tough-guy styling, Tacoma represents a polar opposite to the Ridgeline. Choice is good. Tacoma could be redesigned as early as model-year 2012, but our sources say its next-generation won’t come before model-year 2014.
Dodge Dakota: Really a midsize pickup and the best Ridgeline rival for cabin space other than a full-size pickup. Reasonably refined, as well, and boasts baby-Ram styling, generous payload capacity, and an available V-8 engine. The downside is an uncertain future. Some sources say production will end during calendar 2011, and the willingness of Chrysler’s new Fiat ownership to invest in a replacement is in doubt.
Ford Explorer Sport Trac: As essentially an Explorer SUV wearing an abbreviated cargo bed, this crew-cab-only pickup is close to Ridgeline in concept. It is body-on-frame, rear-drive biased, and is available with a V-8, though. Its styling is appealing, too. But act quickly if you’re interested. Sources say the Sport Trac will be discontinued when the next-generation Explorer switches to unibody construction for model-year 2011.