2013 Honda Ridgeline Review

What the truck? Versatile, but not a true pickup.

2013 Honda Ridgeline Review

The Ridgeline is Honda’s unique take on a pickup truck. Unlike its Detroit competition or offerings from Toyota and Nissan, this vehicle is built on a unibody architecture instead of a dedicated ladder-style frame. These car-based bones give the Ridgeline significant advantages over the opposition. But is a modified minivan tough enough for the jobsite or is this tool best left in the sandbox?


1. The Ridgeline may be a Honda but it’s built in Lincoln, Alabama. Even its engine and transmission were made in the USA, with 70 percent of its parts content from the U.S. and Canada.

2. Fuel economy is low at 15 MPG in city driving and 21 on the highway; that works out to an average of 17 MPG.

3. “Under the hood is a 3.5L V6 with 250 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. It’s saddled with a five-speed automatic transmission.

4. At right around $30,300 to start, including destination and delivery charges our tester stickered for more than 38 grand.


The Ridgeline blends the functionality and comfort of a crossover with the open-bed versatility of a small pickup. A boxy design gives it a spacious interior with room for five, not to mention a host of clever touches.

The vehicle’s most innovative feature is likely its tailgate. On other trucks they fold down creating a flat, horizontal surface. Of course the Ridgeline can perform this trick as well, but Honda engineers weren’t satisfied. They figured out a way to make the gate open sideways as well. A hidden handle located immediately under the vehicle badge allows it to swing open like a car door. It’s a brilliant piece of engineering and something other trucks should offer because it makes it easier to reach items loaded in the back.

Since the Ridgeline is based on a front-wheel-drive architecture there’s no bulky driveshaft sending power to the rear wheels, nor is there a heavy-duty live axle. This space-saving design actually enabled Honda to put a storage compartment under the bed. This truck literally has a trunk, and a decent-sized one at that. Just don’t get a flat tire while carrying a heavy load because the spare is buried in the storage bin.


Discuss this story at RidgelineOwnersClub.com



Contained within the vehicle’s clothes dryer-shaped front end is a familiar powertrain. The Ridgeline is hauled around by a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 that delivers a neat 250 horsepower with nearly as much torque. It’s reasonably muscular, but an extra 30 ponies wouldn’t hurt. Surprisingly this engine is the star of the show and it really shines out on the road. For a mainstream vehicle from a mass-market manufacturer the Ridgeline practically sounds like an IndyCar. Stomping on the accelerator gives the bent-six free reign to sing its lungs out and she howls like a saber-toothed tiger.


Most automakers work exhaustively to block all powertrain noise from entering a vehicle’s cabin. The result is a library-quiet interior, but the engine noise that does percolate through all the sound deadener is less than inspiring. Vehicles from other mainstream manufacturers typically respond with muted indifference, wheezing like an asthmatic at a cat show. In stark contrast the Ridgeline sounds like it was born to run, broadcasting a reedy-sounding intake snarl for everyone’s enjoyment. Sure, it’s a little bit louder but the tradeoff is well worth it.

For extra grip in slippery situations the Ridgeline features what Honda calls a “Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive System.” It’s standard on every trim level and even incorporates a locking rear differential, which should allow the vehicle to handle some light-duty off-roading. If you’re the curious type up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque can be transferred to the rear wheels.

The engine may be a winner but unfortunately the transmission is not. There’s nothing wrong with how this automatic functions. It’s smooth, swift and was never caught off guard in AutoGuide testing. The problem is it’s only a five-speed. By today’s standards it’s at least one gear short. Transmissions from competing companies have more ratios to shuffle than cards in a euchre deck.

SEE ALSO: Hyundai False MPG Claims Could Prompt Senate Probe  

The underachieving gearbox is probably a major reason for the Ridgeline’s disappointing fuel economy. The window sticker reads 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway. Those figures result in an EPA average of 17, which is spot on. According to its digital readout the truck delivered 16.8 MPG in mixed driving. Kudos to Honda for being honest. This is a quite sore spot for other automakers right now.

SEE ALSO: Ford Fusion and C-MAX Hybrid Fall Short

Despite delivering accurate real-world fuel-economy, the Ridgeline falls behind some of its newer competition. The thriftiest Ford F-150 for instance delivers up to 23 miles per gallon on the highway, and that’s with an extra 52 horsepower on tap. It’s the same story with the 2013 Ram 1500. Thanks to an efficient Pentastar V6 and a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission it delivers knockout fuel economy of up to 25 MPG.



From its exterior styling to the dashboard layout, cubism was clearly an inspiration for Ridgeline designers… emphasis on “cube.” The vehicle looks like a stack of boxes. And while it’s not going to win any beauty pageants it does offer heaps of functionality and more storage compartments than a tackle box.

Continuing that hip-to-be-square theme, the truck’s interior is a bizarre mélange of shapes and surfaces. It almost looks as if the driver- and passenger-sides of the cabin were designed by completely different people.

In typical Honda fashion the gauges are large, clean and unambiguous. Also, the huge center console is loaded with storage cubbies; it even slides forward and back for greater flexibility.

SEE ALSO: Honda Rebuffs Claims The Ridgeline Is Done


When it comes to driving, the Honda Ridgeline is a completely competent vehicle. Acceleration, while far from giggle-inducing, is perfectly fine. The ride is a little stiff but it’s by no means inappropriately so. The only real complaint about how it moves centers on the steering, which feels a little robotic, but again this is far from a deal breaker. Altogether the truck is as solid as a granite countertop, with no unwanted jiggles, squeaks or rattles to report.


The Ridgeline starts at just about $30,300, including shipping-and-handling charges. The unit provided to AutoGuide for testing was considerably richer, a Warren Buffett-like $38,110. But in a world of platinum-level pickups topping 52 grand that price probably isn’t so bad. Besides, it was a top-of-the-line RTL model with navigation. Naturally in that trim it came with all kinds of other niceties including a power-sliding rear window, leather-clad seats and a Class III trailer hitch allowing it to tow up to 5,000 pounds. 


With surprising versatility and a car-like driving experience the Honda Ridgeline is a vehicle that probably meets the needs of most truck buyers out there. Today’s “light-duty” pickups are so ridiculously capable most owners never come close to utilizing their full potential. When’s the last time you saw a Chevy Silverado loaded to the gunwales with crushed stone or a Toyota Tundra scraping its bumper on the asphalt dragging a 30-foot trailer?

Today’s full-size pickups are gross overkill for America’s suburban truckers. All these customers need is a vehicle to haul bags of mulch home from the nursery or schlep a few bicycles out to the trail for a Saturday ride, duties perfectly suited to the Ridgeline.


Honda has the right idea with this vehicle and should be commended for entering what’s probably the toughest segment in the automotive business. Loyalties to truck brands literally span generations, and it’s no mean feat to crack this market.

Despite its minivan looks the Ridgeline is a fully functional light-duty pickup that offers buyers shocking levels of ingenuity and versatility. Still, it isn’t perfect; a more sophisticated transmission would be greatly appreciated as would improved fuel economy. But with Honda’s recent success overhauling the Civic and revamping the Accord the company will probably nail it with the next generation Ridgeline.

  • drivenmavens

    Great Review Craig!

  • Jonathan Smith

    I went from owning two Civic Hybrids to having a 2011 Ridgeline. The ONLY complaint I have with the Ridgeline is the low MPG, especially compared to what I was used to. The trunk and overall utility/space it offers is why I chose it over other pickup and SUV options. I have a 13′ inflatable boat that goes in the back along with all my accessories/motor/fishing/camping equipment. We’ve taken it on several cross country road trips and the thing just performs. I can haul sheets of plywood and 2x4s to and from the hardware store and I’ve carried tons of other loads in it. It’s not the most attractive vehicle I’ve owned, but it certainly is a great vehicle. I think if more people who wanted trucks or SUVs were a bit more open minded and not so hung up on it being a “real truck” or whatever, Honda would be a leader in the small truck category. I’ve yet to meet anyone who owns a Ridgeline who doesn’t love what it can do.

  • Hamann2002

    best truck ever ,bought it in 08 and since then  never spend any money on it other than gas and oil changes  ,i highly recommend this truck

  • Kapotttt

    How can it have AWD and no driveshaft going to the rear wheels?

  • Booger246

    I would rather chew on aluminum foil like a wad of bazooka joe than buy one of these.

  • Ajr Ajr

     and we’re all fascinated with your opinion

  • Michael

    Got rid of my F250 and Accord Coupe and bought a 2013 Ridgeline. As Craig stated most folks do not need a full size truck. I do not cut wood or haul a camper any more. I like the idea of a truck that drives like a car and am a big fan of front wheel drive. The storage is well thought out and I can still carry my clubs in the trunk. Drove a $52K Avalanche, it was doggy compared to the Ridgeline. I have a very short commute so the mileage is not as big of a concern as it might be for some folks.

  • Skeptic 1

    We bought a 2013 Ridgeline & at first I was a it skeptical, but since then, I have just fallen in love with it. I do wish it got better gas mileage, but I don’t drive that much or that far on a daily basis. We will be taking it on a long trip later this summer & I am really looking forward to the comfortable ride this vehicle has. That is one of the things that sold us on it. My husband hates the typical trucks out there because of such a rough ride you get in them. Nothing at all against Chevy, Ford, truck owners. If the ruggedness is what you are after then you have what you want. My Dad owned Ford trucks all his life & they are great trucks. If you are skeptical about owning the Ridgeline light-duty truck, be no more because I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

  • Jester

    I have an ’06, bought new. I have owned many trucks and cars over the years. 4 Honda Civics as well (8 Honda motorcycles). I am totally commented to this truck. I have 127,000 on it now and have had to replace the rear struts and I am looking at replacing both front axels as the boots are getting a bit torn up. The only issue I had was the air conditioner didn’t cool very well last summer in our 100+ weather, I learned all about cabin filters, duh!!! what a difference that made! I have loaded it down with tile and gravel which it really isn’t meant to do so I don’t recommend it for hauling too much but when you need a couple of sheets of dry wall or plywood or fence posts etc. it works really great and all you need to do is hose the back out. Really love this truck is all I can say.

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked