2013 Honda Ridgeline Review and Prices
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline is the best midsize pickup for you if you can see past its unfortunate styling to the goodness beneath.
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline should be a virtual repeat of the 2012 Honda Ridgeline. It could also bring to a close the first generation of Honda’s odd but amenable unibody pickup. Slow sales have industry observers writing Ridgeline’s obituary. Honda – as of early 2012 -- was insisting it still had a future. We recognize Ridgeline’s wonkiness but appreciate its many virtues and are betting there’ll be a 2013 model. Beyond then, only Honda knows.
Should you wait for the 2013 Honda Ridgeline or buy a 2012 Honda Ridgeline? Buy a 2012 Honda Ridgeline to make sure you actually can get one. Honda in fact gave the 2012 Ridgeline some minor styling tweaks and expanded the line with a relatively cool-looking Sport version. The 2013 Ridgeline is almost certain to be a repeat of the 2012, though it’ll likely suffer model-year price inflation. Bottom line: little reason to wait if you appreciate Honda’s unique approach to the pickup.
2013 Honda Ridgeline Changes back to top
Styling: Aside from a possible new color choice or two, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline styling will mirror that of the 2012 Ridgeline. That means a grille devoid of the strange orthodontia that plagued the 2006-2011 Ridgeline. The 2013 edition will repeat the plainer horizontal-rib 2012 design, with Sport models again wearing a black honeycomb insert. All 2013 Ridgelines, however, will still have an awkwardly shaped body.
Indeed, the 2013 Ridgeline will again owe some of its appearance to its unibody construction. In particular, there’s no seam between cab and bed and the bed walls are unusually tall. (Blame the rest of the graceless look on clueless Honda stylists.)
Unibody construction means Ridgeline is the only pickup that doesn’t attach its body to a separate frame. It instead uses car-type engineering in which body and frame essentially are a single, lighter-weight unit. Honda reinforces the structure to make it roughly as rigid as a conventional compact pickup’s though Ridgeline is not as well-suited to extreme off-roading or at-the-payload-limit hauling.
Rivals offer regular-, extended, and crew-cabs, plus a choice of cargo-bed lengths. The 2013 Ridgeline will continue in one configuration, a four-door crew cab with a 5-foot-long cargo bed. The cab will again be far roomier than any direct competitor’s, though the cargo bed will be among the smallest. Ridgeline’s bed, however, is likely to remain the only one with an underfloor locking storage compartment (it’s a full 8.5-cubic-feet) or a two-way tailgate that hinges down or to the side.
Expect the 2013 Honda Ridgeline to continue in five levels of trim: RT, Sport, RTS, RTL, and RTL with Navigation system. Among styling differences, the 2013 RT will likely again have dark body trim and 17-inch steel wheels and the Sport probably will return with the black honeycomb grille, smoked headlamp and taillamps, and black-finished 18-inch alloys. The other models should be back with body-colored exterior appointments and 17-inch alloys on the RTS and 18-inch polished alloys on the RTLs.
Mechanical: Bank on the 2013 Honda Ridgeline repeating the powertrain that dates to this pickup’s inception: a 3.5-liter V-6 that should continue with 250 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. That output would remain competitive with V-6s in rival compact pickups, though expect Ridgeline to continue with a five-speed automatic as its only transmission; some competitors offer a manual as well as an automatic.
Built as they are with conventional pickup engineering, competitors also will continue with a choice of rear-wheel drive (2wd) or optional part-time four-wheel drive (4wd). Their 4wd must be engaged by the driver and is not designed for use on dry pavement.
Based as it is on a car-type platform, the 2013 Ridgeline will continue with front-wheel drive as its default layout but will again come standard with all-wheel drive (AWD). Honda calls this the Variable Torque Management system and it automatically shuffles power front-to-rear when sensors detect front tire slip. No action is required of the driver and it the system allows AWD to be employed on all surfaces. The 2013 Ridgeline won’t acquire low-range gearing to suit severe off-roading, but it will continue with a dashboard button that enables the driver to lock power to the rear wheels for extra traction at low speeds.
No other pickup of any stripe will match Ridgeline’s all-independent suspension. Every other truck has a solid rear axle and most have leaf springs. Rideline’s carlike suspension results in a smooth, controlled ride and class-leading handling. Expect the 2013 Ridgeline to remain competitive with other V-6 crew cabs by maintaining a 1,500-pound payload capacity and a 5,000-pound trailer rating.
Features: The 2013 Ridgeline will continue bound by Honda’s practice of eschewing individual options for a set of features exclusive to each model. To get more stuff, you’ll need to ascend to the next model level. That benefits assembly and ordering efficiency but sometimes forces you to pay for a feature you may not want to acquire a few you do.
For the 2013 Ridgeline, we urge Honda to finally equip this pickup with one of life’s modern motoring necessities: a USB interface for iPods and other MP3 devices. Even more important to safety would be to widen availability of Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity beyond just the top-line RTL with Navigation model.
In any event, the 2013 Ridgeline will reprise an otherwise laudable list of features. Leather upholstery, power moonroof, heated front seats, and the navigation system will again be available, depending on model. Standard equipment on every 2013 Honda Ridgeline will continue to include head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows and deploy in side collisions or in an impending rollover.
All 2013 Ridgelines will also come with 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. A trip computer that calculates instantaneous and average fuel economy will remain standard, too.
2013 Honda Ridgeline Prices back to top
Prices for the 2013 Honda Ridgeline were not released in time for this review but don’t expect major deviations from 2012 Ridgeline prices. That suggests a range of roughly $30,500-$38,500. (Estimated prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2012 Ridgeline was $810.)
With just a single cab, bed, engine, and drivetrain, the 2013 Ridgeline in effect competes with top-line V-6, 4wd crew-cab versions of other compact pickups. That puts its seemingly steep base pricing in context and in fact brings it in line with that of similarly configured versions of such rivals as the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.
Estimated 2013 Ridgeline prices are $30,500 for the RT, $31,300 for the Sport, $33,200 for the RTS, $36,100 for the RTS, and $38,500 for the RTS with Navigation.
Expect the RTS models to again add to the RT such features as an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, deep-tint windows, and all-weather floor mats, plus an upgraded audio system with a subwoofer, six-disc in-dash changer, steering wheel controls, and an auxiliary input jack.
The 2013 RTLs should again come with leather upholstery with heated front seats, power moonroof, and other upgrades. To that expect the RTL with Navigation to again include a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition, Bluetooth, and a backup camera.
2013 Honda Ridgeline Fuel Economy back to top
EPA mileage estimates for the 2013 Honda Ridgeline were not released in time for this review but they’re unlikely to change much from 2012 levels, leaving this Honda’s gas consumption about par for a compact-class V-6 crew cab.
Expect all 2013 Ridgelines to again rate 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined and continue to use 87-octane gas.
2013 Honda Ridgeline Release Date back to top
The 2013 Honda Ridgeline should be in dealer showrooms by autumn 2012.
What's next for the 2013 Honda Ridgeline back to top
Ridgeline sells small numbers but Honda can justify some of its construction costs by borrowing main components from the higher volume Pilot midsize SUV. One school holds that if there is a next generation Ridgeline it’ll borrow its basic engineering from Honda’s compact CR-V SUV. Honda denies that rumor, too, leaving its pickup’s future open to speculation.
Our crystal ball suggests any future Ridgeline would continue as a crew cab with reinforced unibody construction. A second bed length would be possible, but AWD almost certainly will remain standard.
A V-6 engine should again be offered, though any redesigned Ridgeline is likely to advance to a more efficient six-speed automatic transmission in place of today’s five-speed. To maximize fuel economy and perhaps lower the price of entry, Honda also could offer a future Ridgeline with a four-cylinder engine. Sources say Honda wants to cut curb weight by some 400 pounds, to around 4,100 pounds. If it can, a four-cylinder engine would seem a compatible option.
Finally, Honda’s got to do something about Ridgeline’s styling. It needn’t adopt an exaggerated macho look, but a cleaner design with a simpler front end and a less awkward-looking body-side profile would certainly pique the interest of a wider range of image-conscious pickup buyers.
2013 Honda Ridgeline Competition back to top
Toyota Tacoma: With so many un-pickup-like attributes, Ridgeline has no directly comparable competitors. In fact, the pool of pickups below the full-size class is rapidly withering. By far the best-selling survivor is the Tacoma. It boasts real off-road chops, a choice of three cab and two bed styles and four- and six-cylinder engines. Tacoma’s closest Ridgeline alternative is its 4wd Crew Cab with automatic transmission. Expect the 2013 edition of such a Tacoma to start around $27,900 with a four-cylinder engine and $28,900 with a V-6, before options. Some of Tacoma’s popularity is attributed to its handsomely rugged styling, and the 2013 model is due new sheetmetal that’ll seek to retain that advantage.
Nissan Frontier: This old-school compact pickup is certainly less refined overall than the Ridgeline and, like the Tacoma, suffers a cramped crew cab by comparison. But it too has macho style that’s also due a model-year 2013 facelift. Expect Nissan to hold the lineup to just an extended-cab long-bed Frontier King Cab and short- and long-bed Crew Cab models. A Frontier highlight has been its strong V-6, though for fuel-economy purposes, Nissan may find a way to offer a 2013 four-cylinder model with 4wd instead of 2wd only. Estimated base price for a 2013 Frontier Crew Cab with the V-6 and 4wd is around $27,000, before options.