You don’t have to be on the road long in Texas to spot trucks with lifts seemingly the size of the Eiffel tower passing you on the highway. It’s truck country after all. What you don’t see terribly often is a red metallic crew cab with bronze-colored alloy wheels. But that’s what I found myself behind the wheel of recently when I spent an enjoyable week with the redesigned 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport. It’s a midsize pickup that’s easy to like, perfect for city living, plus it offers some cool features for the adventure-minded.
My base Sport model slots below RTL, RTL-E and Black Edition and it’s equipped with the HPD (Honda Performance Development) Package. It shows off its untraditional personality in new Radiant Red Metallic II paint ($395) which looks great, set against the Sport trim’s gloss back accents. The HPD package adds a unique grille treatment, HPD emblems, black fenders and can’t-miss 18-inch bronze-colored HPD wheels.
For 2021 Honda also gives the pickup an overall tougher look with a more squared off front end with brighter LED headlights, a new front bumper with functional side air vents, new front fenders and hood. Even the tires sport a more aggressive sidewall and shoulder design. New twin exhaust outlets update the tail end.
The Ridgeline Sport’s cabin isn’t full of frills but it gives off a good vibe with a clean, uncluttered design. The cabin is a mix of soft touch materials and plastic on the dash and door panels. The Sport trim’s new patterned cloth seat inserts add some style. The manually adjusting front seats are comfortable and supportive. The center console houses a push-button transmission that curves just right for your hand. A slide-open cover console bin looks nice.
It’s a roomy midsize pickup in both rows, with second-row stadium-style seating. Rear seat passengers get a wide fold down center console area with cupholders, and more cup holders in the door armrests.
The Sport model comes with standard push-button start, tri-zone climate, power windows, power locking tailgate, and a lockable glove compartment,
Technology isn’t over the top in the Ridgeline Sport and that’s okay. A 4.2-inch easy-to-read color digital display delivers driver info between two analog gauges. An 8-inch color multimedia touchscreen with a multi-angle rearview camera is responsive with large graphics. Notably, Honda’s added an actual physical knob to control the audio volume for the 7-speaker audio system. Connectivity features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth. There is one USB up front and one in the center console. The Sport trim does not have HD Radio, a wireless charger or offer SiriusXM.
Honda dubs the Ridgeline a midsize “Adventure Truck”. Along with a 60/40 rear seat split, the rear seat can also fold up to make room for equipment or gear. Rugged floor mats look like they can handle anything.
The Ridgeline offers 33.9 cubic-feet of trunk bed cargo room and another 7.3 cubic feet in the in-trunk storage area. I put the steel reinforced composite truck bed to good use, using it to pick up some bags of soil from a local garden shop.
An Integrated Class III Trailer Hitch is standard. But you have to step up to the RTL-E model to get a 150-Watt / 400-Watt truck-bed power outlet.
One cool feature is the In-Bed Trunk lockable storage area that can also serve as an ice cooler. The Dual-Action tailgate is another. It doesn’t just open traditionally, but also from the side. I was hoping to hear Honda’s in-bed audio system, but it’s only available on the RTL-E and Black Edition models.
The Ridgeline accelerates nicely with a 3.5L V6 engine that delivers 280-horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. All-wheel drive is now standard across the lineup. It’s equipped with idle-start, but is not bothersome. Remote engine start on the Sport model was a treat.
Ride and Drive
The Ridgeline rides on a unibody platform shared with the Honda Pilot SUV. It’s easy and enjoyable to drive and the fully independent suspension gives it a smooth ride. Weighing in at over 4,400 pounds, you also feel planted to the ground. It was a comfortable daily driver with nice acceleration and braking.
The Ridgeline lineup is equipped with Honda Sensing which includes Collision Mitigation Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist and Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. The Sport trim is the only model without standard Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The Ridgeline Sport as equipped will run you just north of $40,000. As with other Hondas, it’s a great value in its segment. The 2021 Ridgeline is a really enjoyable pickup that offers some unique features for the non-traditional midsize truck buyer.
- What I Liked Most: Ride and Drive, Roominess, HPD Package, Dual-Action Tailgate and In-Bed Trunk
- What I would change: Add standard Blind Spot Monitoring to Sport trim.
- Fuel Economy: 18 city/24 highway/21 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 3,522 miles.
- Weight: 4,436 pounds. (GVWR: 6,019 lbs.)
- Spare Tire: Compact spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 210.2” long/78.6” wide/70.8” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.5 gallons with filler on driver’s side. (Capless Fuel Tank.)
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 lbs.
- Payload: 1, 583 pounds.
- Official Color: Radiant Red Metallic II
- 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport: A versatile midsize pickup with a great ride and drive plus some cool features.
- Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Lincoln, Alabama
- Manufacturer's website: Honda