Honda’s Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck is getting a mild refresh for the 2024 model year and gains a off-road-oriented trim level in the process. Like its Pilot and Passport SUV siblings already do, the Ridgeline will offer a beefed-up TrailSport trim level with exclusive trim details and fortifications for handling rough terrain.
Ever since it launched for the 2006 model year, the Ridgeline has been something of an outlier among traditional pickup trucks. Unlike the rival Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, the Ridgeline is built on a front-wheel-drive-based, unibody-style SUV platform that’s shared with the Passport and Pilot instead of rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame truck architecture.
The upside of this layout is that the Ridgeline offers on-road ride and handling quality and all-around refinement that no traditional truck can match; the downside is that the Ridgeline isn’t as capable in extreme off-road terrain as its competitors are, even though it’s rugged enough for the way most people use their pickup trucks. In the years since the current-generation Ridgeline debuted for 2017, Honda has endeavored to make it a bit more “trucky,” even if the changes were predominantly cosmetic, such as blockier front-end styling, standard all-wheel drive and a Honda Performance Development Package that further beefed up the looks.
With the Ridgeline’s new TrailSport trim for 2024, Honda is taking things a bit further than looks alone. A special off-road-tuned suspension features unique spring rates, damper valve tuning and stabilizer bars. Honda says these alterations increase articulation and off-road ride quality without significantly upsetting the on-road ride and handling. There’s also a steel underbody skid plate that protects the engine’s oil pan from sharp rocks and other off-road obstacles. Some off-road tires can be pretty noisy on the street, but Honda says the TrailSport’s General Grabber A/T Sport tires provide much-improved traction in off-road terrain while remaining quiet and comfortable in on-road driving. Power-folding rearview mirrors, which are handy when traversing narrow off-road trails, are another standard feature.
Naturally, Honda didn’t forget the TrailSport’s looks. Upfront is a unique grille that features a beefier-looking mesh design and a TrailSport badge, along with a blacked-out upper grille bar and a lower-bumper skid garnish painted Pewter Gray. The rearview mirrors and door-pillar trim also get the blacked-out treatment; the new 18-inch, five-spoke wheels are finished in the same Pewter Gray as the front skid garnish; and the tailgate gets a TrailSport badge. A distinctive blue-gray color called Diffused Sky Blue is exclusive to the TrailSport and is offered on the Ridgeline TrailSport, as well. One TrailSport-appropriate update is shared with all 2024 Ridgelines: The tailgate now has blocky Ridgeline lettering stamped into the steel for a more old-school pickup vibe.
The cabin gets TrailSport-specific touches, too: orange ambient lighting; orange contrast stitching on the seats, steering wheel and door panels; embroidered TrailSport logos on the front head restraints; and all-weather rubber floormats with TrailSport logos.
The TrailSport I examined looked suitably adventure-ready, and the Diffused Sky Blue paint it wore really popped. But the specialized hardware here won’t turn the TrailSport into a rock crawler on the level of a Colorado ZR2 or Tacoma TRD Pro. There’s no significant lift ride height compared to other Ridgelines, so the approach, departure and breakover angles aren’t notably improved.
Still, Honda’s torque-vectoring AWD system is capable in off-road driving; it can send up to 70% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels and continuously apportion up to 100% of that torque between the rear wheels based on driving conditions at each wheel. For example, if one of the rear wheels is off the ground, the system can send the power to the wheel in contact with the ground to keep the pickup moving.
Interior Updates for All
All 2024 Ridgelines get new dashboard screens and some thoughtful center-console revisions. A new 7-inch digital instrument panel, with a digital tachometer on the left and an analog speedometer on the right, replaces the previous gauge panel. The digital panel has user-selectable displays, such as Honda Sensing safety-system settings and vehicle information, controlled via a thumbwheel on the steering wheel. The infotainment touchscreen is upsized from 8 to 9 inches and has been recessed slightly, leaving a ledge below the screen for the user to steady their hand when making selections — this indeed makes it easier for your finger to hit what you intend to touch on the screen. Honda says a faster processor provides quicker, lag-free touchscreen performance and that the integrated navigation system has been simplified with new graphics and fewer menus. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is now standard.
The center console has been revamped to include a large integrated armrest with an expanded storage bin beneath that can accommodate a full-size tablet; this arrangement is much better than the odd rollback-cover bin and slim seat-mounted armrests of previous Ridgelines. The dual cupholders have been upsized to fit larger beverages, and the storage tray forward of the push-button shifter has been widened so two large smartphones can fit side by side (and the tray also includes a Qi wireless charger on the driver’s side).
Our favorite Ridgeline features carry over, too, including a dual-hinged rear tailgate (it’s hinged on the driver’s side as well as the bottom), 60/40-split flip-up backseat cushions (which enable carrying tall cargo inside the cab), and a large, lockable trunk built into the rear portion of the bed floor.
Price and Release Date
The 2024 Honda Ridgeline lineup, including the TrailSport variant, is slated to go on sale this winter