Honda Ridgeline

Powering the Honda Ridgeline is a 3.5L V6 engine producing 280 horsepower. The engine is coupled to a 9-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels. The engine allows the Ridgeline to tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, while still returning decent fuel economy when not towing.

The Ridgeline's true party trick, however, is the way it manages to combine the best things about a car with the best things about a truck. The truck bed is wide and flat, and may, at first glance, appear short. However, the rear seats are able to fold completely flat, allowing the truck bed to extend right into the cabin when extra utility is needed. The Ridgeline also features a substantially sized trunk underneath the rear of the bed, allowing covered and hidden storage, just like a car. And of course, the rear seats are spacious and easy to get to, since the Ridgeline features four conventionally opening doors. The Ridgeline should also make a great platform for tailgating parties, as it features the world's first optional sound system in the bed of the truck.

With several different trims available, the Ridgeline offers something for everyone. The base model is dubbed the Sport and features power windows and door locks, 18-inch wheels, an 8-inch LCD color screen, Bluetooth with audio streaming, dual USB ports, speed-sensitive volume control and a 7-speaker 200-Watt sound system.

The RTL ups the luxury with a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, a 10-way power driver's seat, an acoustic windshield, a power sliding rear window and a power moonroof. The RTL-T was created for technophiles, with a navigation system, an automatically dimming rearview mirror, an SMS text message function, Apple CarPlay, Pandora and SiriusXM satellite radio.

The RTL-E adds to the RTL-T with several safety features, including a blind spot warning system and a lane-keep assist system. Also included on the RTL-E is an uprated stereo that includes speakers in the bed.

Finally, 2021 Ridgelines are available in the "Black Edition" trim. The all-wheel-drive Black Edition gets everything included in the RTL-E plus black alloy wheels, red ambient LED lighting and blacked-out exterior trim.

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Editors' First Take

When the Honda Ridgeline first came out in 2005, it was a unique take on the midsize pickup that had many innovative features but wasn't well received by the traditional truck-buying public. Then, when the second-gen model debuted in 2016 as essentially a Pilot crossover with a pickup bed, it was derided for being not truck-like enough. The joke's on the Ridgeline's naysayers, though, as it's a fantastic pickup made even better by an update for 2021.

To fix the Ridgeline's main problem, Honda gave its pickup a true facelift. Everything ahead of the A-pillar is new, and the hood and nose are taller and a lot more squared-off than before. The grille is larger and more rectangular, with a big chrome trim strip at the top that extends into the redesigned headlights. The new front end really makes a difference in how imposing the Ridgeline is, especially when put next to the pre-facelift model. Other styling updates are limited to new wheel designs and a different rear bumper with exposed dual exhaust tips.

My test Ridgeline has the new $2,800 Honda Performance Development package that is available on every Ridgeline model. This HPD pack adds black fender flares (that seriously divided the opinions of my friends and coworkers), 18-inch gold beadlock-look wheels, HPD graphics on the bed, HPD badging and a unique front grille. You also get Firestone Destination LE2 tires that look like chunky all-terrains but are really just all-seasons with a redesigned sidewall and shoulder -- the tires are identical in size (245/60R-18) to the Ridgeline's standard setup.

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