Ridgeline TrailSport Ready to Hit the Off Road

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CHATHAM, Mass. – Taking a page from its own book, Honda added a TrailSport variant to its Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck range for 2024, thus creating a more rugged “weekend warrior.”

Honda customers have demonstrated their fondness for ruggedized versions of the brand’s trucks which are both comfortable and compliant on road, while being better prepared to leave the pavement than lesser versions. Since its introduction for the 2020 model year, the Honda Pilot TrailSport has racked up 15% of this SUV’s totals, while a third of the larger Honda Passport SUVs going out dealer doors are TrailSports since its 2022 model-year intro.

Similar, or better results are expected of the Ridgeline TrailSport which boasts both functional enhancements along with visual cues to set it apart from other versions of the company’s pickup.

Powertrain provides efficient power

The heart of the Ridgeline TrailSport is a 3.5-liter, 24-valve, single overhead camshaft engine producing 280 horsepower and 262 pounds-feet of torque. This engine is coupled with an automatic nine-speed transmission feeding power through the standard Honda Intelligent variable torque management (i-VTM4®) all-wheel drive system.

The i-VTM4 system is optimized for foul-weather, slippery driving conditions by distributing power front-to-rear and then to either the left or right rear wheel based upon which wheels have the most traction. Standard four-mode Intelligent Traction Management allows drivers to customize the i-VTM4® system for different terrains, including sand, snow, mud and paved roads.

These pieces add up to a powertrain which goes about its business professionally. Straight-line performance is deceptively impressive. Car and Driver’s testing returned 0-60 miles-per-hour times of six seconds, quick for a 4,495-pound pickup.

The truck’s performance capabilities do not detract from its on-road efficiency. I managed almost 24 miles for each gallon of gasoline consumed, a far more impressive figure than the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s rating of 20 mpg overall (18 urban, 23 highway).

In addition, the spunky powertrain is capable of pulling a trailer of up to 5,000 pounds, very important to the buyers who see this vehicle as the means of taking them, their friends and all their gear into the woods or country for fun and adventure.

A platform tuned for its role

Built on the last generation of Honda’s global-light-truck platform, the Ridgeline TrailSport shares its basic setup with the other Ridgeline versions, but not the tuning of the pieces.

Up front are MacPherson-type struts with a 25mm stabilizer bar while at the rear an independent multi-link design with a 26.5mm stabilizer bar takes care of business.

TrailSport’s exclusive suspension tuning features unique spring rates, damper valve tuning and stabilizer bars to increase articulation.

The platform includes a power-assisted brake system featuring anti-lock (ABS), ventilated 12.6-inch front rotors and 13-inch solid rears. The wheels are 18-inch pewter-gray alloy ones fitted with 245/60R18General Grabber™ A/T (all-terrain) Sport tires.

These features, according to Honda, are to improve off-road ride comfort and capabilities without sacrificing on-road performance. I cannot attest to the off-road characteristics, but on road, the 2024 Honda Ridgeline TrailSport acted like the well-tuned mid-size SUV upon which it is based. It handled twisting roads without any drama; its ride on all types of surfaces was quiet, controlled and comfortable.

Honda Sensing® ADAS standard

A comprehensive list of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) the company labels Honda Sensing® comes standard on Ridgelines. These features include Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with forward collision warning, lane keeping assist system, road departure mitigation with lane departure warning, blind-spot-information system, cross-traffic monitor, automatic high beams, front & rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control.

Technology, amenities enhance cabin comfort

Inside orange accents and stitching sets the 2024 Ridgeline TrailSport apart from its siblings. The stitching can be found throughout the leather trimmed interior, the hides covering the seats (heated and power adjustable up front) and steering wheel (also heated and manually adjustable).

Behind the steering wheel is the customizable instrument cluster while at the center of the dash sits the new nine-inch color LCD touchscreen which controls the navigation-equipped infotainment system as well as vehicle settings.

The infotainment system brings SiriusXM satellite radio; HD Radio; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, and a seven-speaker 215-Watt audio system with subwoofer.

Large windows along with power-operated moonroof and central rear window can let in the sunshine and outside air, while an automatic, dual-zone electronic climate-control system allows the driver and passenger to tailor the overall environment to their individual liking.

Other interior features include USB A and C ports front and rear; wireless mobile-device charging; a 60/40 split fold-up rear seat; large center console; 10 cupholders and clever front door pocket storage design. A large, traditional storage bin sits at the bottom of both front doors. Honda adds a second-row storage bin with bottle holder well above the bottom one, putting dead space to excellent use. Thoughtful!

On the outside, the TrailSport bed offers the same features setting the Ridgeline apart from other pickup trucks. Features like a tailgate which opens conventionally or, thanks to a hinge on the left side, as a door; lockable under-bed, washable, deep, hidden storage compartment, and a pickup bed wide enough (50 inches) for a standard sheet of plywood to fit between the wheel wells.

Solid value for mid-size pickup

The three-trim Ridgeline range with all-wheel drive and Honda Sensing begins with the $39,750 Sport, progresses to the $42,580 RTL and concludes with the $44,980, comprehensively equipped TrailSport. The review version I drove added Sonic Gray paint ($455) and destination & handling fee ($1,395) for an as tested price of $46,830.

The Honda Ridgeline represents a unique place in the pickup-truck pantheon. Its unibody construction and rear-independent suspension helping provide excellent ride and handling qualities, and dual-opening tailgate help set it apart, as does its performance and efficiency. Now in TrailSport trim, these qualities can better go where adventurous weekend warriors want to travel.

Next week TBR Drives a number of new, exciting vehicles at the annual #IMPASpringBrake2024.

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.