The Perfect Truck for Most People Just Got Better

The Honda Ridgeline is all the truck you probably really need, and it's improved for 2021.

honda ridgeline 2021

We all have grand plans for what we'd like to do with a pickup truck, whether we own one or not: tow Airstreams and power boats, fill the bed with construction supplies to complete our long-deferred home improvement projects, throw it in low range and climb a mountain or nine. But those dreams remain just that for the vast majority of actual truck buyers. Most people who buy pickups actually need something to haul around families and the occasional bit of dirty gear, something capable of going farther off-road than a conventional car but with a bias more towards highway driving than Rubicon Trail crushing.

Something, in other words, very much like the Honda Ridgeline.

The Ridgeline is, by pickup truck standards, an utterly unconventional rig. Unlike every other truck you can buy in America, it's based on a car-like unibody chassis — in fact, it's largely similar to the Pilot and Passport crossovers beneath the skin, though the suspension and many other parts have been beefed up for pickup duty. But those car-like roots don't hold it back when it comes to (moderate) off-roading or payload hauling; the Ridgeline can lug more than 1,500 pounds of payload around and tow up to two and a half tons.

honda ridgeline devil's tower
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline, seen here waiting for the aliens to arrive.

Where the Ridgeline really excels, however, is in serving up the sort of clever, handy convenience features that truck buyers dig. Not only does the bed not need any sort of liner — it's made of a sturdy composite, not steel or aluminum — it has a lockable trunk integrated into it (it even works as a cooler), which can be easily accessed through a tailgate that opens both up-and-down and side-to-side. On higher-trim models, the bed even works as a stereo speaker, as immortalized in a great Super Bowl ad, and packs an electrical outlet with enough power to run a big-screen TV.

honda ridgeline

Right around now, you might be asking, why again are they extolling the Ridgeline's virtues? Well, in all honesty, it's because the 2021 model year facelift is a fairly minor update. There's a new front end that gives this Honda a truckier countenance (and distances it a bit from the company's crossovers), more aggressive wheels and tires, and an upgraded infotainment system to go along with other minor interior upgrades. The Ridgeline also offers a quartet of new accessory packages à la the Land Rover Defender, including one that adds the badass bronze wheels and less-badass body graphic you see here.

honda rugged

But those minor changes do indeed bring minor changes to a pickup truck that didn't really need much in the way of updates to begin with. It might not wow you with its specs — 280 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic do indeed seem tame these days — but at the end of the day, the Ridgeline is really the ideal truck for most Americans and what they do with them.

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