2021 Honda Ridgeline
The redesigned 2021 Honda Ridgeline begins the popular pickup’s fourth generation. Honda debuted the Ridgeline in 2005 as a utility vehicle with special attention on ride quality: whereas most pickups are built body-on-frame, this one uses unibody construction for increased passenger comfort. With its ruggedness, practical cargo bed, and ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds, it presents an attractive balance as a daily driver that comes in handy on the weekends.
The most noticeable changes that this redesign brings start with its front-end appearance: the hood and more squared-off front fascia look more aggressive and indicate the power behind the scenes. The grille and fenders also show an updated look, with side vents to increase aerodynamics for optimal fuel economy; a skid plate has also been added. In back, the high-mounted rear bumper and dual exhaust add to the tough-yet-refined appearance. Mud-ready all-terrain tires come standard on all ’21 Ridgelines.
Inside, there’s more comfort and practicality than ever. The back seat splits three ways and folds up to help fit items that are challenging to carry (such as bicycles and home improvement materials). The cockpit has an updated look, with newly designed elements throughout. A new option, the Honda Performance Development (HPD) Package, also debuts to add bronze-toned wheels, a special grille, black fender flares, and unique graphics on the bed walls.
Trim Levels Explained
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline deftly rides the line between SUV and pickup truck with its smooth ride and useful cargo bed. Now that it’s been redesigned to start its third generation, it looks more confident from the front with some additional squaring of the fascia, and sportier from behind with the addition of dual exhaust. The restyled front bumper is more aerodynamic than ever, with the addition of side vents that route air around the wheels to reduce drag. Honda has also shored up its sole truck offering with more aggressive 18-inch wheels and standard all-wheel drive. Let’s look closely at what each of the ’21 Ridgeline’s trims has to offer.
The Sport has a nice amount of standard equipment, with features not commonly found on a base trim. On the exterior there’s LED lighting (headlights, fog lights, and taillights), a dual-action tailgate, an in-bed trunk (which can be filled with ice and used as a cooler), dual exhaust finishers, eight heavy-duty truck bed tie-down cleats, an integrated Class III trailer hitch with a 7-pin connector, rear privacy glass, and keyless entry with walk-away auto-lock. The abundance of amenities extends to the cabin, where you’ll find push-button ignition, a multifunction center console, tri-zone automatic climate control, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, two USB ports (one for charging and one for smartphone/audio connectivity), front and center console 12-volt power outlets, a HomeLink universal transceiver, and a 60/40 split, lift-up rear seat with underseat storage.
The infotainment system has been overhauled as part of the redesign, and it now offers an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HondaLink remote services, SMS text messaging, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, and a seven-speaker sound system. Also standard is the Honda Sensing bundle of active safety features (forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control).
The RTL’s slate of exterior amenities consists of heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators, a sound-reducing acoustic windshield, a moonroof, and a power sliding rear door. Honda raises the convenience factor in the cabin with illuminated driver’s and front passenger’s vanity mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable front seats (with two-way memory for the driver), leather upholstery, and heated front seats. Its infotainment system gains satellite radio, and Honda Sensing is augmented with blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The RTL-E gets a number of useful exterior upgrades, like automatic high beams, truck-bed lights, programmable remote entry, chrome door handles, front and rear parking sensors, and a truck-bed power outlet. More interior amenities are included as well, like a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, front-row courtesy door lights, illuminated cup holders, blue ambient interior lighting, two second-row USB ports, HD radio, navigation, a high-level 540-watt sound system with eight speakers and truck-bed amplification, and a wireless smartphone charger.
Some distinct appearance elements set the Black Edition apart from the rest. It earns its name with slick Crystal Black Pearl paint, gloss-black exterior moldings and wheels, and black chrome accents. Inside, the mysterious aura continues with sleek black leather, red accent stitching, and red ambient interior lighting.
There are several packages available for the ‘21 Ridgeline. First, the Function Package adds in-bed cargo dividers, an in-bed cargo net, and a first-aid kit. The Function+ Package issues the contents of the Function Package plus a tonneau cover. The Honda Performance Development Package is new for this model year, adding bronze-colored wheels, black fender flares, HPD emblems, and a package-specific front grille. Last up is the Utility Package, which supplies roof rails and crossbars and running boards.
The Sport is a well-equipped base trim, getting remote start, keyless entry, push-button ignition, automatic LED headlights, LED fog lights and taillights, a dual-action tailgate (with hinges on both the bottom and side), a locking trunk in the truck bed, eight heavy-duty truck bed tie-down cleats, rear privacy glass, a Class III trailer hitch with a 7-pin connector, and dual exhaust. Inside, there are front and center console 12-volt power outlets, multiple USB ports, automatic climate control with three zones, a HomeLink remote system, and a 60/40 split lift-up rear seat with secure underfloor storage. The base version of the backup camera is a deluxe one, in that it has a dynamic guidelines feature for extra confidence.
The RTL trim adds a moonroof, a power-sliding rear window, heated exterior mirrors with position memory, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power driver’s seat with memory, a power front passenger’s seat, and leather upholstery. The front seats are heated. The keyless entry system is upgraded in the RTL-E, which also gets a heated steering wheel, a wireless smartphone charger, front and rear parking sensors, LED truck bed lights, a truck-bed power outlet, and blue ambient interior lighting. The Black Edition is distinct with its Crystal Black Pearl paint, red ambient interior lighting, gloss-black exterior moldings, black chrome accents, and gloss-black 18-inch wheels.
Driver-Assist Features and Technology
Honda Sensing, a proprietary package of active safety technologies, is standard issue on every 2021 Ridgeline. The most basic edition includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning. The RTL and higher also get blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and the RTL-E and Black Edition receive automatic high beams.
Honda’s base infotainment system for the ’21 Ridgeline has an 8-inch touchscreen and contains everything the driver and passengers need to stay informed, connected, and entertained.
Standard features range from Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth to hands-free text messaging and a sound system with seven speakers. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is added at the RTL level. The RTL-E and Black Edition also get high-definition radio, a navigation system, an upgraded audio system with eight speakers and a subwoofer, plus audio for the truck bed – the ultimate tailgating accessory.
*(NHSTA) Government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s New Car Assessment Program (www.safercar.gov). Model tested with standard side airbags (SAB).