2017 Honda Ridgeline — All-New and Somewhat Unique

2017 Honda RidgelineModel Tested: 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition

Engine: 3.5-liter I-VTEC V-6

Horsepower: 280

Torque: 262 pound-feet

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

EPA Ratings: 18/city, 25/highway, 21/combined

Base Price: $42,870

As Tested: $43,770

Overview: “Is it a car or a truck?” That’s the most frequently asked question I received driving the 2017 Honda Ridgeline. The answer? An unqualified “Yes.”

The Ridgeline is the only unitbody truck made. All others are body-on-frame — the chassis and body are three separate pieces — cab, bed, chassis. The Ridgeline is a single unit. While traditional body-on-frame vehicles are rugged and meant for heavy hauling, towing and off-road activities, unitbodies are lighter and ride better. That’s why all-passenger cars are unitbody.

The 2017 Ridgeline shares much of its structure — including its 3.5-liter V6, 6-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive and AWD option — with the Honda Pilot SUV.

Walkaround: The second-generation Ridgeline is larger than the original, offering more cargo bed capacity, higher payload rating and a roomier interior. It retains two popular features — the two-way tailgate and the in-bed lockable trunk, adding available speakers in the cargo bed walls.

The front end and four-door crew-cab-only configuration boast a more traditional pickup look.

2017 Honda RidgelineInterior: The Ridgeline offers abundant space, and the rear accommodates three passengers. Materials are high-quality. Audio systems range from adequate to excellent. Instrumentation is straightforward and easy to understand, with a choice of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto offered. The display screen is large, as are the various infotainment and connectivity icons. The new navigation system is much more user-friendly. Safety features include available adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning and lane assist.

Behind the Wheel: While pickups in general have become much more civilized, in terms of ride quality, quietness and general comfort, the Ridgeline tops the chart. It’s smooth, composed and compliant on all road surfaces. Power is respectable, not exceptional. AWD towing capacity is 5,000 pounds or 3,500 for front-drivers — near the bottom of the midsize pickup list.

Whines: Touch controls for audio adjustment on the dash screen are overly complicated.

Bottom Line: The 2017 Ridgeline raises the bar for comfort. If you need a truck for heavy hauling or towing over 5,000 pounds, this isn’t it. But for routine tasks and the convenience a pickup offers, you should check it out.