Look at this! It’s the 2021 Honda Ridgeline, and it’s fixing exactly what so many folks have complained about since this truck launched for the 2017 model year. Honda has finally made its truck look more like a truck, which (and you’d have never guessed this) is what truck buyers seem to want.
Now, we have had our own misgivings about the Ridgeline’s design, but its excellence in categories outside of design have made us more forgiving of its soft, Pilot-like face. Every other midsize truck has a rough-and-tough character about it, and now the Ridgeline can say the same.
It’s using all new sheetmetal from the front pillars on forward. The larger, more upright face is the most immediate and obvious change. The grille is fairly normal for a truck now with its large and prominent design. There’s still a chrome strip that highlights the nose of the car, but it’s been moved upwards to meet the taller hood. That hood is totally reshaped into a square, bulging piece that extends outward in an aggressive manner. Previously, it had a sloping hoodline that made it look more like a car or crossover design. Now? It’s all truck.
A new front bumper and new LED headlight design (better illumination than before) bring even more truck-ish elements to the table. The bumper adds large side vents that direct the air through the bumper and around the front tires and wheels. Honda says this design contributes to improved aerodynamics. Body color paint is extended further down onto the bumper, and a skid plate is placed below to make it look even more off-road ready.
You won’t notice as many changes around the back, but the rear bumper is reshaped to allow for the Ridgeline’s new twin exhaust system. It looks far more sporty than the previous hidden exhaust design. These photos don’t show them, but new “tougher looking” 18-inch wheels wrapped in tires with a more aggressive sidewall design come as standard equipment. Also, Honda has reduced the wheels’ backspacing by 10 mm and increased the track width by 20 mm. This gives the truck a broader and wider stance on the road.
The truck photographed here is also wearing a new Honda Performance Development (HPD) Package. It consists of a grille treatment, bronze-colored wheels, HPD graphics and the huge black fender flares. Honda hasn’t released photos of the standard truck, so we’ll need to wait to see what a more pedestrian 2021 Ridgeline looks like.
There isn’t much doing on the interior. Honda says it updated the infotainment system with “crisp new graphics, easier-to-use-icons and a physical volume knob.” The base Sport trim gets a new cloth seat insert. Additionally, Sport, RTL and RTL-E trims get new trim accents on the dash, steering wheel and center console.
It’s still rocking the same chassis, engine and transmission as before. The only option is Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s combined with a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive as standard. The Ridgeline’s torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system continues to be available optionally. Maximum towing capacity is still 5,000 pounds, and maximum payload capacity is still 1,580 pounds.
Honda says this updated Ridgeline will go on sale early next year. We’ll receive pricing, detailed specifications and more photos as its on-sale date nears.