What’s your reaction when you hear the words “unibody mid-sized truck?” Probably the same as mine when I heard we were doing a car review for the 2024 Honda Ridgeline AWD Trailsport. “Hurray, great,” I thought hesitantly. Having little to no experience with the Ridgeline, I had assumed it was just an SUV trying to be something it’s not. What niche did this fill? Why not just buy a full-size truck? Or even a spacious full-size SUV? Well, after perusing around town and getting familiar with it, I started to see some appeal. However, a big question remained: does it justify its price tag of $44,980? 

The 2024 Ridgeline comes with a single engine option: a 3.5L VTEC V6 that delivers 280 horsepower, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Fuel efficiency is rated at 18 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and a combined 20 mpg. Nice! I appreciate the fact they didn’t throw a 4-cylinder in there. The Ridgeline debuted in 2005 and quickly sparked controversy as a unibody mid-size truck in a market dominated by body-on-frame competitors like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. With a 5,000-pound towing capacity, it falls short by 2,000 to 2,500 pounds compared to the Ford Ranger.  

Every Ridgeline features a four-door crew cab and a five-foot bed. The Trailsport trim adds some unique elements like a better-looking front grille with extra badging, front and rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels, and 245 all-terrain tires. Our Ridgeline paint was sharp, with a sparkle in the sun. Honda calls it Radiant Red M II. One thing I found a little odd was the body lines seem to mimic a body-on-frame design. They’re purely aesthetic! Honda, who are you trying to fool? The truck bed is where I started to notice the Ridgeline may, in fact, be cool. Honda claims it’s the only vehicle in its segment that can carry a four-foot-wide plank of plywood without hitting the wheel wells. That’s because the bed is shallow, laying above the wheel wells. Its bed measures 5.3 feet, matching competitors’ short beds but with a lower volume of 34 cubic feet (about the volume of a large refrigerator). The dual-action tailgate added way more practicality than I was expecting. The bed even lifts up, revealing a 7.7 cu ft in-bed trunk featuring drainage plugs, meaning it’s got potential for some serious tailgating during football games.  

The Trailsport trim offers faux leather-trimmed seats with the Trailsport logo (10-way power for the driver, 4-way for the passenger), all-season floor mats, a 7-inch half-analog digital display resembling the Honda Pilot’s, and a 9-inch touchscreen display, which is 1-2 inches larger than earlier Ridgelines. Even though I was stoked for the heated seats, at this price point I would also have liked to see a cooling option. For ventilated seats, you’ll need to opt for the Black Edition trim, which will cost you a little more. I can’t rave enough about how easy it was to use climate control. No touch screens, just responsive buttons in the perfect location. Standard features include generous rear-seat space with 36.7 inches, which is more than most mid-size rivals. At night, the orange Trailsport ambient lightning made the experience a bit more exciting.  

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My first brief drive around the block left me unimpressed. However, as I spent more time with it, I grew to appreciate its features and driving dynamics. The Ridgeline is straightforward, providing what you need without unnecessary frills. The braking is smooth, the power delivery is there, it feels lightweight, and the climate control and infotainment systems are user-friendly. The vehicle offers the best of both worlds between truck and SUV features, with minimal body roll and a safe, comfortable ride. One drawback is the lack of 360-degree cameras, making parking challenging, especially compared to the larger Toyota Tundra we reviewed. However, its nimbleness compensates for this shortcoming. With a 0-60 mph time of 6 seconds, it’s not the fastest, but it holds its own. The smooth ride and car-like steering are thanks to its underpinnings borrowed from the Honda Odyssey minivan. Yes, I said minivan. 

Our 2024 Honda Ridgeline AWD Trailsport came out to a total of $46,830. It’s a bit more expensive but offers decent interior and exterior upgrades. I would have preferred a few more “trail-oriented” features, as this is the “Trailsport,” but there’s only so much you can do with a unibody truck. I still feel as though they could have done more. It’s as if they started building a trail-oriented truck but stopped halfway through the process. However, the bed’s utility and storage space surpass those of the Maverick and Santa Cruz. While its appearance is funky, it has the potential to look striking with a lift and aftermarket wheels. So, who’s this truck made for? I believe it would be a choice for those living in inner cities or even near college campuses. The nimbleness it brings to the table is unmatched for a truck. Is it worth the price? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Remember, everything is subjective. 

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