2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport HPD Review – Slightly More “Truck” Than Before

2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport HPD Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6 (280 horsepower @ 6,000 RPM, 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

18 city / 24 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.8 city / 9.9 highway / 11.5 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $36,490 (U.S) / $49,440 (Canada)

As Tested: $40,860 (U.S.) / $51,821 (Canada)

Prices include $1,175 destination charge in the United States and $2,050 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

One of the things this author has always appreciated about the Honda Ridgeline is its car-like qualities. More than once, the phrase “Accord on stilts” has escaped my lips when talking about the Ridgeline with fellow auto scribes, and I meant it as a compliment.

Imagine my dismay to find that the refreshed 2021 Honda Ridgeline felt jussssst a bit more “trucky” than before.

Just a bit, though. As I tooled around town in this Ridgeline, I still felt it was more car-like than any other truck of its size.

Obviously, being “car-like” will be a detriment to some. Some folks want their truck to look and act tough, to be trail-ready. The Ridgeline’s new facelift certainly addresses the first part – it looks much more ready for the backcountry. And while I’ve not taken a Ridgeline of any year very far off the pavement, I’ve been told this current generation can do some light off-roading with ease. That said, the true off-roader will be shopping Chevy and Toyota.

To me, the appeal of a truck with a ride that’s reminiscent of a sedan lies in the use case. Not all truck buyers are venturing into the backwoods. The concert tailgater, the person hauling goods across town, the suburban landscaper – these folks should take notice. Boulder bashers need not apply.

Honda tells me the Ridgeline’s suspension hasn’t changed, but as I tooled around town, I felt the ride was just a teeny bit stiffer than it was the last time I drove one of these trucks. The HPD Package that my tester was equipped with was likely not the reason – this package adds fender flares, different wheels, a different grille, and different emblems and badging. That said, the change was barely perceptible – and I concede it could just be my imagination – and the Ridgeline remains more car-like, both in terms of ride and handling, than its competition.

Otherwise, the change in style doesn’t much change the guts. Not that everything stays the same – torque-vectoring all-wheel drive is now standard. The system automatically sends up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and continually shifts 100 percent of that torque between the left and right wheels based on driving conditions.

A 3.5-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and that power gets to the four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power is just fine, if unremarkably so, for the suburban commute.

Aside from the $2,800 HPD Package, this truck (remember, Sport is the base trim)came with items like a heavy-duty transmission cooler, Bluetooth, 18-inch wheels, all-season rubber, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, keyless starting, USB, tri-zone climate control, fold-up rear seat, dual-action tailgate, LED headlights and fog lamps, in-bed trunk, remote start, adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, and the $395 Radiant Red paint job.

Including the $1,175 destination fee, the total price was $40,860. Fuel economy is listed at 18/24/21.

The Ridgeline looks “truckier” now, but it retains its car-like ride/handling characteristics. It remains the truck for urbanites, tailgaters, and do-it-yourselfers who fill their weekends with jaunts to the Home Depot.

That’s not a bad thing, unless you simply must head to the off-road park each weekend. If you live your life on pavement, the Ridgeline will suit you just fine.

[Images © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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