Review: 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport

Hey y’all. How’s everyone been doing?

Life is moving pretty swiftly here as 2021 seems to be blazing past. I spent this past week in a Honda Ridgeline, I’m currently in a Honda Accord Hybrid, next week I’m getting an MDX, and if all goes to plan, I’m snagging a new TLX Type S in another month or so (for keeps!). Automotive adventures seem to be the name of the game over here. Typical.

Before you go too far, I have to put in a plug for my friend Michael who is selling an exceptionally clean Legend. It ends Monday at no reserve on AutoHunter.

On Wednesday, Acura published a YouTube video that’s been a long time (years, even) in the making. Without giving away the whole plot, it has to do with the rebirth of the “Type S” name in the brand’s lineup of cars. I was lucky enough to get to work with Acura on some behind-the-scenes aspects of the film, including sourcing the RSX-S and TL-S that were used in the production. Below are some photos from the day when we shot out at the Honda Performance Center in southern California (I got to hang with Acura VP Jon Ikeda for part of the day).

Then, I’ll embed Acura’s video, along with one that I put together discussing my involvement (not yet published / “listed” on my channel, but will be soon).

Now, let’s get down and dirty into some automotive review chat.

The Honda Ridgeline pickup has been around since 2006 in a variety of iterations, and for 2021 it received a long list of enhancements to better set it apart as a unique and capable vehicle. In my 13-minute video, I discuss some of those and give my feedback on what I loved and didn’t love about the truck.

I fully recognize that there are a handful of you who would rather read a blog than watch a video, so the nuts & bolts are here.

  • 2021 Ridgeline AWD Sport with Honda Performance Development package ($2,800 add-on) = $40,880
  • 3.5-liter V6 with VTEC and 280 horsepower
  • 9-speed automatic transmission

While I love that the Ridgeline is going for a more rugged look now than ever before, I’m not fully onboard with so much black plastic body cladding. I do, however like the refreshed grille, wheels, and dual exhausts. The truck could use a little more ground clearance in the front, and maybe another USB outlet or two. As with other similar Honda and Acura products I’ve tested, I didn’t love the 9-speed ZF transmission or the auto stop/start.

There’s plenty about the Ridgeline to enjoy though. It has one of the most innovative tailgate designs I’ve ever seen, since it can drop down in a traditional sense but also swing out via a left-side hinge.

The ride quality – both on- and off-road – is confidence-inspiring and almost sedan-like in comfort. I liked the keyless tech, push-button start, and sound system quality. The lighting is great with the LED bulb treatment up front, and the rear aesthetics with HPD graphics and aggressive dual-exhaust system are attractive. The cloth interior was super comfortable! Storage solutions are immense, from a giant console to an in-bed “cooler” with a built-in drainage system. The rear seats also fold up for max space within the bed.

Perhaps best of all, all Ridgeline models are now all-wheel-drive so the truck has the all-weather / all-terrain capabilities to back up its more rugged look. It’s the perfect pickup for people who have occasional DIY projects or adventure aspirations that involve hauling, off-roading, or towing.

Thanks for checking it out with me!

8 Responses to “Review: 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport”

  1. I like the Ridgeline! Definitely the truck I’d get if I were in the market for one. The refresh brought some improvements, but this truck still looks a bit dated in some respects, especially on the inside. My hunch is the next full redesign will be really great though!

    • I think a lot of people are holding out until a future generation, but in looking at the sales numbers, the existing model is still “killing it” compared to prior years. I have the March 2021 grid pulled up right now. In March 2020 (granted, that was pandemic central!) there were 1,832 units sold and in March 2021 there were 6,081. I wonder what a “normal” pre-COVID year looked like.

  2. Very cool post – after watching the Type S video yesterday, it was really cool to learn about your behind the scenes involvement. It was also cool seeing the ILX – feels like it’s been a while since that was featured. 229k isn’t bad at all (bonus points for Tears for Fears on the iPod when you arrived back at home – 80’s represent!).

    I enjoyed the Ridgeline video and write-up. A friend has a 2017 Sport, and loves it. I’d concur that it could probably use a little more ground clearance for true off-reading, but for most use cases, I’m sure it’ll work just fine. Looking forward to hearing about your experiences with the Accord Hybrid!

    • I’ll text you a pic of the Accord – I still can’t believe how nice it looks for a $38k pricetag! 19″ wheels and all.

      Glad you like my audio selections – Tears for Fears is great!

  3. Ty MacWalters Says:

    Great post and review of the Honda Ridgeline. While the RL you drove is clearly an improvement upon my 17′ BE, the platform; as I understand it, is unchanged. The Ridgeline is one, if not, the best handling trucks I’ve ever driven. For those that claim it’s not a real truck because it’s not a traditional body on frame construction haven’t ever truly driven it or experienced it’s capabilities. Yes, it’s not a off-roader, but that’s not the intention. However, I will say I have taken it on some mild off-road terrain and found it very capable. I will be holding on to mine for some time to come!

    Thanks for the update and great information.

    • I totally agree with you. I got a lot of snarky “not a real truck” comments from people over the week I drove the Ridgeline, but I honestly think people don’t even give it a chance. Glad to hear that yours is serving you well! Thanks for reading/watching!

  4. Those videos were delightful! What a cool thing to be a key part of… so your TLX Type S will be ILX part deux?!

  5. When it comes to trucks, I usually prefer a Ford – but I can’t deny that Honda is looking good. I would never take a truck off-roading as I have no need or desire to do so, and I believe the Ridgeline handling is superior to most trucks – at least from what I have heard in many reviews.

    Cool videos btw!

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