2021 Honda Ridgeline grows more macho with redesigned looks

The not-a-traditional pickup beefs up to look the truck part even more.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
3 min read
2021 Honda Ridgeline
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2021 Honda Ridgeline

Beep beep, new pickup coming through.


The Honda Ridgeline hangs with an odd truck crowd. As you probably know, it's not a "traditional" pickup truck. It rides on a unibody platform that makes some consider it a poser. In all fairness, the Ridgeline is a nice pickup, but for its 2021 redesign, it's grown more macho than before.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline revealed itself on Wednesday with far more aggressive looks than before. Right away, it's clear Honda designers wanted the Ridgeline to look even more like a truck with the power-bulge hood, larger, more upright grille and wider track width. The rest of the fascia receives changes, too, with a black or chrome crossbar that connects the headlights, and new side air vents that help create air curtains for improved aerodynamics.

The changes work. The Ridgeline looks far less like a Honda Pilot with a pickup bed in the back. It's perhaps a little generic, drawing comparisons to the Toyota Tundra from a couple Roadshow staff, but overall, it's not too shabby. Every Ridgeline trim also gets new 18-inch wheels to make this pickup truck even truckier, and new all-season tires with an "aggressive" sidewall and shoulder design double down on the Ridgeline's more in-your-face looks. Not too in your face, though. This is like being passive aggressive to Grandma, not flipping her off. 

As for the rear end, it goes largely unchanged with a simple, restyled bumper that helps pronounce two large exhaust pipes. But the nifty in-bed trunk remains, which provides almost 8 cubic feet of storage under the bed. If you're looking to load the 2021 Ridgeline to the gills with junk, it'll haul 1,580 pounds and tow 5,000 pounds if the truck features all-wheel drive.

2021 Honda Ridgeline toughens up with new looks

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For those looking to go further, Honda will offer a Honda Performance Development pack that adds bronze wheels, a unique grille and black fender flares along with HPD graphics. It's not the Ridgeline's best look in my opinion, but the wheels are kind of neat. Expect a lot more special packages in the near future too, Honda said.

The cockpit keeps on keeping on, but the infotainment screen gets a redo with cleaner graphics that make the system simpler to use, according to Honda. Cloth seats receive new inserts, and more expensive trims bundle new interior accents to spruce up the cabin. Flat-fold and 60/40 rear seats keep the Ridgeline mighty functional, though. Honda Sensing also bundles a suite of active safety gear and driver-assist features.

What doesn't change are the mechanicals for the 2021 Ridgeline. Every version still comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 280 horsepower and pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Sport and RTL trims, while AWD with torque vectoring is standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition models. Oh, and yeah, it has VTEC.

Overall, the 2021 redesign is a safe, and handsome update to the nonconforming pickup. The Ridgeline's always been about maximizing real usability. The latest updates just help the truck look the part more, and you'll find the truck at dealers early next year.

Watch this: Deep dive: Take a look at all the tech in the Honda Ridgeline