2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport: Honda Performance Development

Experienced by Leon Brittain

Honda may be on the precipice of something special with the continued evolution of its midsize pickup truck. The Ridgeline rides smoothly like a crossover vehicle but simultaneously offers rugged capabilities. Whether mountain biking (MTBing) with the Fit Fathers crew or picking up landscaping supplies at Lowes, the light truck provides the utility for the tasks at hand while retaining its ability to maneuver around the city with ease.

My 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport with the HPD Package (Honda Performance Development) arrived in perfect timing as weekend plans included fall landscaping upkeep like aerating and reseeding the lawn as well as MTBing with the fellas at Schaeffer Farms Trails in Gaithersburg, MD. Surprisingly, the refreshed Ridgeline has a best in class 1,589-pound payload capacity, a 4-ft. wide bed, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Amazingly, the Ridgeline is built with traits that surpass the beloved Toyota Tacoma. Suffice to say, I had no problem loading up the aerator machine, bags of mulch, contractor amounts of grass seeds, and other tools and supplies for the weekend job. Additionally, the bed features an embedded trunk to store and hide precious items.

My $40,860 ($36,490 MSRP) Platinum White Honda was outlined with the optional HPD Package ($2,800) for unique contrasting and a bit more aggressive styling to go along with the dual circular exhaust tips. It emboldened the Ridgeline with bronze 18″ HPD alloy rims wrapped in Firestone all-terrain rubber, wide black fender flares, an HPD grille, and HPD decals and emblem. A few other add-ons for your new Ridgeline include the $1,465 Utility Package (running boards, roof rails, crossbars), the $270 Function Package (bed cargo net, trunk cargo net, trunk cargo dividers, first-aid kit), and the $1,315 Function+ Package (hard tonneau cover, bed cargo net, trunk cargo net, trunk cargo dividers, first-aid kit). I didn’t have a bed cover, so I flipped up the rear seats to store my 29″ Specialized Fuse MTB. I removed the front wheel to fit the bike appropriately since I have a size (L) frame. Though, it is more spacious back there than a Tacoma.

The Ridgeline is powered by Honda’s efficient 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a 9-speed automatic and iVTM-4 AWD with various settings like Snow and Mud. This model even has paddle shifters and a Sport mode. It feels good when you push it, but please don’t expect anything on the level of a Ford Raptor. I’m also still getting used to the push-button gear selection. I like trucks with physical gear shifters.

Honda says that all Ridgelines received new contrast stitching on the seats; Sport trims add new cloth seat inserts; and Sport, RTL, and RTL-E trims have new dash, steering wheel, and center console accents. Also, the truck was redesigned from the A-pillar forward, and a volume dial was added to the 8” multimedia system featuring wireless charging and Apple CarPlay. But everything else within the interior is pretty basic and left us with no exciting impressions. I could have used a sunroof and power seat controls as well.

Safety is always at the top of the pecking order with Honda, so believe your Ridgeline will do its best to keep occupants protected. Systems include Vehicle Stability Assist, Brake Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation. I like the sounds of that!

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