Smooth! Not the first word that typically comes to mind for a pick-up truck review but that’s exactly what the 2018 Honda Ridgeline delivers.

We picked-up a Ridgeline with RTL-E Trim from our partners at Rock Honda for a test drive.

Learn all about the technology, surprisingly comfortable ride and a feature you’ll love whether you’re throwing a party or gardening!


Recorded March 1, 2018

Welcome to iDriveSoCal the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States – Southern California.

I’m Tom Smith and in this episode we’re talking about the 2018 Honda Ridgeline pick-up truck from our friends at Rock Honda in the Los Angeles suburb of Fontana.

My headline for the Ridgeline is simply this – Smooooth.  It drives and handles like a car but it’s definitely a truck with that seating position that puts you up over traffic and gives you the feeling of more control over the road.

Brian Luey, one of Rock Honda’s sales consultants, hung out with me for the afternoon and helped me get acquainted with the vehicle.

Now this is the second generation Ridgeline so it looks more like a traditional pick-up truck than the first generation Ridgeline but it’s still unmistakably a Honda.

And if you’re completely unfamiliar with the Ridgeline regardless of first or second generation – it’s always only come in a 4-door version (aka crew cab) that seats 5-people.

And being a new Dad I’ve become a bit obsessed over safety.  The Ridgeline does not disappoint in that department delivering a 5-star Overall Safety Rating from NHTSA – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Honda offers six trim levels for the Ridgeline – from the most basic to top of the line you have the:

  • The RT – only available in 2-wheel-drive.
  • The Sport – available in 2-wheel drive or All-wheel drive.
  • The RTL – available in 2-wheel drive or All-wheel drive.
  • The RTL-T – available in 2-wheel drive or All-wheel drive.
  • The RTL-E only available in All-wheel drive. And that’s what I test drove.
  • And finally, the Black Edition – also only available in All-wheel drive.

The RTL-E, again – which is what I drove, is basically fully loaded.

The only step above is the Black Edition.  And the differences between those two trims are aesthetic features.

The Black Edition has:

  • Special black paint.
  • Black Edition badging.
  • An upgraded interior w/:
    • Sporty red stitching and leather accents.
    • And cool red LED ambient lighting inside.

So the RTL-E that I drove definitely had all the whistles and bells.

Regardless of the trim level, and creature comforts aside, they will all drive pretty much the same and here’s why:

  • They’re all powered by the same 280-horsepowered 3.5 liter V6 engine with 262 pound-feet of torque.
  • And they all have 18-inch wheels – with different finishes and looks of course.

Now, being a pick-up truck you of course have your 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel options.  However as I just detailed, with the Ridgeline, it’s either 2-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

With many trucks (and SUVs for that matter) you’ve traditionally had the 4-wheel drive optional settings of either 4-high or 4-low.

But as more and more technology finds its way into our vehicles – computers are just better at predicting and adjusting for optimal performance.  They’re certainly better than the average driver anyway.

With that in mind; the Ridgeline does have some optional settings through what Honda refers to as its Intelligent Traction Management.

And through that you can identify the conditions of the terrain you’re driving and the computer will adjust accordingly – those options include:

  • Normal
  • Snow
  • Mud
  • And, Sand

To be clear, those are the options for when you’re in all-wheel drive.  When you’re in 2-wheel drive you have only normal and snow to select from.

And speaking of being in 2-or-all-wheel drive; the fuel economy ratings for the Ridgeline slightly depends on which you are driving in:

  • For 2-wheel drive you have 19-City and 26-Highway.
  • And when you’re in all-wheel drive you’re expect to get 18-City and 25-Highway.

The RTL-E that I drove, is only available in all-wheel drive and I have to say that I couldn’t tell I was driving an all-wheel drive vehicle at all.

Sometimes, especially around tight corners, on dry pavement you can feel all-wheel drive transmissions in action.

I couldn’t tell at all.  I had to ask Brian Luey, halfway through the afternoon, if I was driving a 2-wheel or all-wheel drive version.

And I was primarily on dry pavement where you’d feel it.  I did go on a bumpy rock road for a minute and I can state the Ridgeline was very sure-footed off pavement as well.

And the all-wheel drive behaved just great when I accelerated getting off the rock road and back onto the pavement.  The vehicle recognized the terrain and adjusted perfectly.

Speaking of accelerating, that’s another aspect I like.  When you step on the gas it goes – the Ridgeline has plenty of power.

As I’ve mentioned – when it comes to performance – smooth!  Whether that’s accelerating, driving at highway speeds, cornering through town or navigating a winding foot hill road.  Just smooth!

The Ridgeline’s outward appearance is somewhat transformative depending on the trim level that you go with:

  • The RT base model is – basic.
  • The Sport has a little more aggressive look.
  • The three RTL’s offer increasing degrees of sophistication.
  • And the Black Edition makes a bit of a statement. It’s a tough, classy yet sporty looking truck.

On the inside the Ridgeline is spacious:

  • I drove the vehicle.
  • I was a front seat passenger;
  • And even hopped in the back seat to check leg room.

The RTL-E dashboard, even with all the options, was very easy to view and understand.  I felt comfortable driving it right away and the overall user-interface was intuitive – not at all intimidating even though the vehicle was fully loaded.

For a pick-up truck, the Ridgeline RTL-E is packed with technology, and Brian Luey walked me through everything – here’s some of my favorite Ridgeline tech – remember, this is the RTL-E trim level:

  • Of course Honda Link – if you heard my podcast of the Civic Si Sedan you know I love being able to use my phone’s apps in the dash:
    • Like using my phone’s Waze app in the vehicle’s dash.
    • And using Google Play Music in dash –
      • So I can listen to the latest iDriveSoCal Podcast. (Okay, I don’t do that but you totally should!)
    • The other safety tech that’s great is what’s referred to as Honda Sensing – that includes:
      • Adaptive Cruise Control:
        • Which is cruise that adjusts with the traffic in front of you.
      • Lane Keep Assist:
        • Adjusts steering to help you keep centered in a detected lane.
      • Road Departure Mitigation:
        • Adjusts steering and braking if you cross detected lanes without signaling.
      • And Collision Mitigation Braking System:
        • Applies brake pressure when an unavoidable collision is determined

Again those were tech features of the RTL-E – which is loaded.

The Ridgeline’s MSRP for each trim starts around:

  • $29,730 for the RT.
  • Then, $33,270 for the Sport.
  • $34,030 for the RTL.
  • $36,180 for the RTL-T.
  • $41,720 for the RTL-E.
  • And the Black Edition at $43,220.

But as always, the price is going to reflect the options you want.

No matter what though go to Rock Honda and tell them you’re an iDriveSoCal listener and they’ll take the very best care of you.

Eh, who am I kidding, Rock Honda is awesome and they’re going to take the best care of you anyway.  But give us some love by telling them you listen to our podcast.

And Brian Luey was awesome at explaining all the technical features of the cars and how to use them – so you might want to ask for him.

Before I wrap-up my 2018 Honda Ridgeline test drive review I have to cover my top three things as we always do here on iDriveSoCal:

  • First is interior user-interface.
    • I have to mention the super-comfortable driver’s seat with adjustable armrests, great lumbar support and quality leather feel everywhere.
    • That with the well-laid-out dash controls make it an easy truck to drive – even with all that technology.
  • Second is something Brian pointed out that kind of blew me away – truck bed audio.
    • Huh? I’d never heard of such a thing but it totally makes sense and is really cool.
    • It is just what it sounds like. There are speakers tucked up in the truck bed so the whole bed turns into a sound system.  And you can run it through an app on your phone – very cool.
  • And finally the tech:
    • Honda Link – using my phone’s apps in-dash – awesome!
    • Honda Sensing – great safety features, especially for a pick-up truck.

That’s if for my review of the 2018 Honda Ridgeline.  Thanks to our Honda partner – Rock Honda in the Los Angeles suburb of Fontana.

And thanks too, to Brian Luey at Rock Honda for helping me get acquainted with the truck.

Rock Honda is off the 210 in Fontana and at

For iDriveSoCal, I’m Tom Smith.  As always, thanks for listening.