Thursday, April 6, 2017

Honda's special-edition Ridgeline is black magic

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review first appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California If Batman opted to drive a pickup truck, I have no doubt that he’d be behind the wheel of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition.

Honda went to the drawing board – probably a computer, actually – to create an all-new Ridgeline from the ground up, with the goal of taking command in the crucial midsize pickup niche.  And Honda did a nice job of it from a practical standpoint.

But the Ridgeline Black Edition is another ballgame entirely.  Black from bumper to bumper, including the 18-inch alloy wheels, the Black Edition comes off as a road warrior, bad in a decidedly posterior sort of way.  Yes, you can drive it as a chore-eating pickup, but the Black Edition makes a statement with its appearance.

Performance also has something to say.

The tester’s sophisticated 3.5-liter, 280-horsepower V-6 is responsive and throaty.  You hear it coming, and when surrounding motorists get a glance at the pickup’s all-black exterior, they tend to get out of the way.

As well they should.  The tested Black Edition laid rubber off the line when asked, and it was rock-steady in slalom runs.  A sweetly tuned suspension and unibody construction carried the load with ease.

And yes, despite appearances, the Ridgeline is a unibody truck.  Don’t be fooled by the rubber-filled gap between the cab and truck bed.  That little valley is there to make truck traditionalists feel good … or something like that.  No matter what, it’s a visual misdirection play.

Alas, fuel mileage is pretty tepid at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, the expected trade-off for the V-6 engine’s enthusiasm.

On most pickups, the bed is merely open space.  Not so with the Ridgeline.

The super-durable, composite bed can be had with an in-bed “trunk” space that offers more storage room under the bed floor.  There’s a dual-action tailgate.  You can open it old-school flat or like a swinging gate.

And the bed can even be equipped with an audio system, the better to hear your tunes when you’re loading or unloading the cargo-carrying space.  Clever much?  I’d say so.

My ride was loaded with a super-lengthy list of standard features, including plentiful, high-tech safety and driving-enhancement perks.  This explains the straight-up, no-extras starting price of $42,870, a fairly hefty figure to ponder in a midsize truck.

Welcome to pickup of the 21st century, seriously evolved from the uncomplicated workhorses of generations past.  I had no problems with it.  Apparently, I’m not alone in that.

The redesigned and re-engineered 2017 Ridgeline was named the 2017 North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  Oh, it also surpassed the competition with a “Top Safety Pick” nod from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Throw in the Black Edition with “Crystal Black Pearl” paint, black chrome accents and black exterior moldings, and I agree with Honda: It is a whole new way to Ridgeline.

Black magic all the way around.

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