Honda’s pickup for the non-pickup types

The second-generation Honda Ridgeline made its debut at January’s 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2017 Ridgeline replaces the long-tired, first-gen truck that debuted for the 2006 model year and ran until its demise in 2014. The second-generation truck continues to utilize a unibody design, though it’s been thoroughly updated with Honda’ latest generation of crossover platform. It shares much of its structure with the Pilot, called Honda’s Global Light Truck Platform, as well as Honda’s next-generation of ACE body structure.

"We are bringing our unique technology and original thinking to the market in a new and challenging concept for a Honda pickup," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor. "We think we’ve got a better idea, a truck that uses its unibody construction and Honda packaging magic to deliver more of the things that many of today’s truck customers want and need with none of the things they don’t." Mendel’s quote succinctly nails the 2017 Ridgeline: it’s a truck that has nothing typical truck buyers want and packed with everything they don’t. What? Yep, the Ridgeline is obviously not for the blue collar type who works construction for a living. Honda has purposefully made this truck for those who want a crossover, but need the open cargo bed of a pickup. Folks like weekend road bikers or antique pickers who also daily drive their vehicle. The Ridgeline doesn’t really compete with the other trucks in the mid-size segment, though it may very well become their biggest competitor. The all-new Ridgeline began selling the first half of 2016.

Update 07/24/2017: Honda has released changes and pricing related to the 2018 Ridgeline. Keep reading for what’s new.

Continue reading for more about the 2017 Honda Ridgeline.

  • 2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline
  • Year:
    2017- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    280 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    262 (Est.)
  • Energy:
    Direct Injection
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; FWD, AWD
  • Price:
    30000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    7.8/10

Exterior

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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The 2017 Ridgeline takes a large departure from the previous generation. It has a more squared-off jaw, more upright cab, and a boxy cargo bed. Its resemblance to the 2016 Honda Pilot is uncanny, though not exact. To the two share many parts, but each is their own vehicle.

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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Up front, the Ridgeline has a very squarish lower fascia that houses turn signals, fog lights, and a lower air inlet.

Up front, the Ridgeline has a very squarish lower fascia that houses turn signals, fog lights, and a lower air inlet. The main grille has the large Honda symbol with plenty of chrome accents running along the top and into the headlights, which are projector beam and feature LED daytime running lights.

The doors continue the rather squarish looks, with very upright openings. The accent line that runs through the door handles give character without distracting from the simplistic nature of the truck. The story continues around back as the tailgate is nearly a flat piece of metal save for the continuation of the accent line running along the top. Simplistic chrome badges keep the lines clean while matching the chrome accents strips along the bumper.

Like the last Ridgeline, the 2017 model features Honda’s innovative dual-action tailgate. It opens in two ways: like a conventional truck tailgate, pivoting down, and also like a barn door, swinging out. The Ridgeline isn’t the first vehicle to have such a tailgate, but since Oldsmobile isn’t making station wagons anymore, the Ridgeline feels special.

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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With the tailgate open, the trunk can be accessed for wet or dry storage of nearly anything.

The Ridgeline continues with its composite bed liner and In-Bed Trunk. With the tailgate open, the trunk can be accessed for wet or dry storage of nearly anything. It now has a flat bottom for more space and continues to have a drain plug, essentially making it a built-in cooler. Under the trunk lid is where Honda stores the compact spare tire and tire-changing equipment.

The cargo bed itself is well suited for light-duty work. The bed walls are nearly vertical and the wheel wells are extremely small. Honda says a 4x8 sheet of plywood or drywall will fit, though the tailgate won’t close. The Ridgeline has a maximum payload rating of 1,584 pounds. When the work is over, the bed can transform into a tailgater’s dream. It features a built-in, 400-watt sound system and an AC outlet.

The Ridgeline comes standard with a Class III receiver hitch and AWD models come with a seven-pen wiring connector. AWD models are rated to tow 5,000 pounds, while the FWD Ridgeline will pull 3,500 pounds. For 2018, Honda offers two new paint colors for the Sport trim, joining Crystal Black Pearl from 2017. The new colors are White Diamond Pearl and Lunar Silver Metallic.

New Honda Ridgeline Vs. Old Honda Ridgeline

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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Interior

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Interior
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2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Interior
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2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Interior
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The interior is nearly identical to the 2016 Pilot. Nowhere is that more true than the dashboard, with the gear selector being the only major difference. The Pilot uses push-button controls while the Ridgeline opts for a more traditional shifter knob. Otherwise, it’s the typical Honda flair. The steering wheel features plenty of controls while the center stack is cleaner than most vehicles. Toggle switches operate HVAC temperature controls while a small cluster of buttons operates the remaining features.

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline Interior High Resolution
- image 661815
The steering wheel features plenty of controls while the center stack is cleaner than most vehicles.

The eight-inch infotainment screen has a row of buttons along its left side, but is otherwise a touch-only unit. It offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. The driver get a large TFT display within the gauge cluster with a smaller screen dedicated as a digital speedometer. The tachometer, gas, and temperature gauges remain analog. Of course, with this being a Honda, there are tons of cubbyholes, cup holders, and places to put things.

Rear passengers enjoy a fairly spacious cabin, though legroom won’t be mistaken for a SuperCrew F-150. Honda does provide AC vents and a sliding rear window to keep temperatures in check. When it comes time to haul stuff, the 60/40-split bench seats neatly fold against the back wall with a simple lever pull.

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Interior
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Under the hood is the familiar 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 out of the Pilot. The engine’s displacement is familiar to Honda fans, but the engine got a welcomed refresh before powering the 2016 Pilot, so it now features direct fuel injection, and a 30-horsepower bump in power and a 15-pound-feet increase in torque. The increase means the 2017 Ridgeline now has 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.

The engine features a 60-degree V-angle and is die-cast from an aluminum alloy with iron cylinder liners. The deep-skirt block features four-bolt main caps and a high-strength steel crankshaft. The forged steel connecting rods are “crack separated” to create a unique remounting surface when bolted onto the crank. All this is done for added strength and a long engine life.

The engine’s headline features include the i-VTEC system with the two-stage Variable Cylinder Management system. Like with other Honda engines, the VTEC system controls the overhead camshaft, manipulating valve timing, the lift profile, and lift duration of the intake valves. Below 5,350 rpm, the engine uses a low lift, short duration timing map for increased torque and good fuel efficiency. Above that engine speed, the timing changes to a high-lift, long-duration profile, allowing more air to enter the cylinder.

The Ridgeline now has 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.

The Variable Cylinder Management system gives the V-6 the ability to run on three cylinders in low-stress situations, furthering its fuel efficiency. The remaining three cylinders instantaneously come online when more power is needed.

Power is routed to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission that offers a 20 percent wider gear ratio spread over the previous-generation Ridgeline’s five-speed automatic. Customers who need AWD capacities can opt for the all-new AWD system that utilizes Honda’s i-VTM4 torque vectoring transfer case with Intelligent Terrain Management. The terrain management software comes with four modes for various traction situations, including normal, sand, snow, and mud. The torque vectoring system works both front-to-rear and left-to-right, giving the Ridgeline an impressive traction advantage.

Fuel economy is also improved over the previous Ridgeline. In FWD form, the Ridgeline is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. The AWD model sees a one-mpg drop in numbers across the board, resulting in a rating of 18/25/21 mpg.

Honda says the Ridgeline is capable of “medium-duty” off-roading and towing capacities while maintaining a pleasant on-road driving feel. It’s no secret the Ridgeline is designed to spend a majority of life riding empty on paved roads. The crossover-like unibody chassis, transversely mounted engine, and four-corner independent suspension will all aid in comfort while limiting its truck-like abilities. Regardless, Honda won’t have an issue selling the Ridgeline. It all the truck most folks will ever need.

Safety

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Interior
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The 2017 Ridgeline comes with a suite of active and passive safety systems. Customers can opt for the Honda Sensing system, which adds Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Other features include vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake ford Distribution, and the optional AWD system with dynamic torque vectoring for improved traction. If all else fails, the Ridgeline comes standard with dual front airbags, side airbags, side curtain airbags, and a reinforced safety structure around the passenger compartment.

In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2017 Ridgeline scored the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. Ridgelines must be equipped with Honda Sensing and the optional LED headlights in order to meet the IIHS’ criteria for Top Safety Pick+. What’s more, the Ridgeline is the only pickup truck to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ award for the 2017 model year.

As for the IIHS’ detailed ratings, it scored “Good” in every category, which includes the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side impact, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. Likewise, with Honda Sensing, the Ridgeline scored a “Superior” in front crash prevention. Its LED headlights scored a “Good” as well. The rear seat LATCH system was ranked as “Acceptable,” one level down from “Good.” This proved to be the only chink in the Ridgeline’s otherwise perfect score. These scores should remain unchanged for 2018, as well.

Prices

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The Ridgeline is offered in seven trim levels – two more than the previous generation. Pricing has stayed relatively stable, though its max price has increased thanks to the new upper-crust trims. The trim lines are the RT, RTS, Sort, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and the Black Edition.

Prices for the base RT trim begin at $29475 before destination and other fees. A mid-grade RTL with AWD runs in the mid $35,000 area, while the range-topping Black Edition, which comes standard with AWD, starts at $42,870. The Ridgeline will be available at Honda dealers in June of 2016.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Prices

Model Price EPA City / Hwy / Combined
Honda Ridgeline RT 2WD $29,475 19 / 26 / 22
Honda Ridgeline RTS 2WD $31,515 19 / 26 / 22
Honda Ridgeline Sport 2WD $33,015 19 / 26 / 22
Honda Ridgeline RTL 2WD $33,780 19 / 26 / 22
Honda Ridgeline RTL-T 2WD $35,930 19 / 26 / 22
Honda Ridgeline RT AWD $31,275 18 / 25 / 21
Honda Ridgeline RTS AWD $33,315 18 / 25 / 21
Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD $34,815 18 / 25 / 21
Honda Ridgeline RTL AWD $35,580 18 / 25 / 21
Honda Ridgeline RTL-T AWD $37,730 18 / 25 / 21
Honda Ridgeline RTL-E AWD $41,370 18 / 25 / 21
Honda Ridgeline Black Edition AWD $42,870 18 / 25 / 21

2018 Honda Ridgeline Prices

Model MSRP EPA Rating City / Hwy / Combined
Ridgeline 2WD, 4 Door, 6-Speed Automatic
RT $29,630 19 / 26 / 22
Sport $33,170 19 / 26 / 22
RTL $33,930 19 / 26 / 22
RTL-T $36,080 19 / 26 / 22
Ridgeline AWD, 4 Door, 6-Speed Automatic
Sport $35,070 18 / 25 / 21
RTL $35,830 18 / 25 / 21
RTL-T $37,980 18 / 25 / 21
RTL-E $41,620 18 / 25 / 21
Black Edition $43,120 18 / 25 / 21

Competitors

2016 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma - First Drive Exterior Test drive
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2016 Toyota Tacoma - First Drive Exterior Test drive
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The Ridgeline’s top competition, at least in terms of sales number, is the Tacoma. It has a long tradition on the market as being the top seller, despite it going unchanged for nearly a decade. Now for 2016, the Tacoma is almost all-new, sporting a new design, new powertrain, and a vastly improved interior. Still, the Tacoma is a more traditional truck in ever sense. It will be interesting to see how the segement’s top seller can fight off Honda’s upcoming invasion.

Read our first driving impressions here

2017 Chevrolet Colorado

2017 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
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Much like the Ridgeline, the Colorado took a few years off before returning in time for the 2015 model year. The Colorado rolled into 2015 with an all-new look that more closely resembles its big brother, the Silverado 1500, and it carries a line of new engines.

These new engine range from a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque to a 3.6-liter V-6 with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of twist. For the 2016 model year, the the 2.8-liter I-4 Duramax turbodiesel enters the lineup, making 181 horsepower and an impressive 369 pound-feet of torque.

The Chevy, along with its GMC twin, are the epitome of a traditional mid-size truck, sporting ladder frames, honest 4WD systems, and respectable towing and payload capacities.

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado.

Conclusion

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It’s all the truck most folks will ever need… That’s the main idea of the Ridgeline. It’s designed to be a tidy driver like a crossover, but have the space for large or dirty items that you’d never want inside your cargo hold. It’s four-corner independent suspension, smooth V-6, and available AWD should make it a relatively great handler.

Hopefully as time progresses, Honda doesn’t let the Ridgeline stagnate. Much of the issues with the first-generation Ridgeline is that it simply became old, even in a market segment that wasn’t progressing forward. Now with its new chassis, updated powertrain, and handsome looks, the Ridgeline should fair quite well in the market. Granted, things are getting tougher with a strong list of competitors, but the Ridgeline goes about the midsize truck thing in a refreshingly different way.

Read our Driven review of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline here.

  • Leave it
    • Demonized for its differences from traditional mid-sized trucks
    • It is enough to compete in the mid-size segment?

Updated History

Update 12/08/2016: The IIHS has rated the 2017 Ridgeline with its highest crash rating, the Top Safety Pick+. Awarded Ridgeline models must be equipped with the optional Honda Sensing system and LED headlights.

Update 05/09/2016: Honda has released several key details about the 2017 Ridgeline pickup, including its starting price of $29,475.

Update 05/05/2016: Honda begins mass-production of Ridgeline trucks at its manufacturing plan in Lincoln, Alabama. The truck will soon be available at dealerships, though pricing has not been announced. More than 1,500 employees were on hand as the first production Ridgeline rolled off the assembly line.

Updated 12/18/2015: Honda dropped a first teaser image and confirmed the new Ridgeline will make its official debut at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 11, 2016.

Updated 01/12/2015: Honda unveiled the new generation Ridgeline at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

Press Release

Honda today unveiled the all-new 2017 Ridgeline truck at the North American International Auto Show, once again challenging conventional thinking in the pickup truck market with Honda-exclusive features, design and technology that help Ridgeline set new benchmarks for versatility, capability and comfort in a midsize pickup.

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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"We are bringing our unique technology and original thinking to the market in a new and challenging concept for a Honda pickup," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "We think we’ve got a better idea, a truck that uses its unibody construction and Honda packaging magic to deliver more of the things that many of today’s truck customers want and need with none of the things they don’t."

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
- image 661612

Designed, developed and manufactured in America, the new Ridgeline will launch in the first half of 2016 with a combination of features and capabilities unlike anything else on the market today, including:

Superior on-road performance – with the segment’s best handling, ride quality, cabin quietness and all-weather traction capabilities – courtesy of its unibody construction, sophisticated chassis, and available i-VTM4™ torque-vectoring AWD system
Class-leading space – with the largest and most versatile cabin and the only 4-foot-wide flat bed space in the midsize pickup segment, along with payload capacity rivaling top competitors
Innovative and class-exclusive features, including an In-Bed Trunk™, dual-action tailgate and the industry’s first in-bed audio system – making Ridgeline the ultimate tailgating vehicle
Targeted top-in-class acceleration, EPA fuel economy ratings and third-party collision safety ratings, and featuring Honda’s next-generation ACE™ body structure and available Honda Sensing™ suite of safety and driver-assist technologies
Leading edge connectivity with 8-inch Display Audio featuring Apple Car Play® and Android Auto™ compatibility

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Advanced Chassis, Powertrain and All-Wheel-Drive
The new Ridgeline is based on Honda’s Global Light Truck platform with its rigid yet lightweight unibody construction, next-generation ACE™ body structure and sophisticated, fully independent suspension, delivering a higher level of ride and handling refinement than conventional body-on-frame designs. The Ridgeline will be powered by a 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC™ V-6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, providing top-in-class powertrain refinement and targeting best-in-class acceleration performance and segment-leading EPA fuel economy ratings.

The Ridgeline also will be available for the first time in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations. All-wheel-drive models will utilize Honda’s i-VTM4™ torque vectoring AWD technology, featuring Intelligent Terrain Management with Normal, Sand, Snow and Mud modes, providing robust medium-duty off-road and towing capability with superior on-road, all-weather handling, traction and performance.

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Sophisticated, Versatile and Spacious Cabin
Inside, the Ridgeline boasts the largest, most versatile and sophisticated cabin in a midsize 4-door pickup, featuring high-grade materials and finishes, available leather trim and all the latest technologies that Honda has to offer, including tri-zone climate control, push button start, a full-color TFT center meter and available 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility.

The Ridgeline’s 60/40-split and folding second-row seat provides the ultimate versatility for people- and cargo-hauling utility. With the seats folded down, the Ridgeline will comfortably carry up to five people while still accommodating long items, like a set of golf clubs, under the rear seat. Folding up one or both sides of the 60/40-split seat bottom opens up the back to carry tall and bulky items.

A Bed Like No Other
The Ridgeline bed offers pickup users unmatched versatility in a midsize 4-door pickup. At 5’ wide and 5’4" long (5.4 inches wider and 4 inches longer than the previous generation Ridgeline), the 2017 Honda Ridgeline has the only 4-foot wide flat bed space (with 48 inches between the rear wheel arches) in the midsize pickup class, allowing for flat hauling of items like plywood sheeting or drywall. The Ridgeline will also offer payload capacity rivaling top competitors, approaching 1,600 pounds, with final specifications to be released closer to launch.

The composite, UV-stabilized and scratch-resistant bed also boasts a number of available Honda-exclusive features that add to its incredible versatility, including an In-Bed Trunk™, dual-action tailgate, available 400-watt AC power inverter and the industry’s first in-bed audio system.

The Ridgeline’s standard, lockable In-Bed Trunk provides secure storage space with no compromise to bed utility and now features a fully flat floor while still including a drain plug for easier cleaning and evacuation of water from the trunk. The dual action tailgate is hinged both at the bottom and along its left side, opening down or to the side, which enables easier loading and unloading of heavy and bulky items without having to reach over the open tailgate. The bed also features eight 350-pound tie down cleats and an available 400-watt power inverter, located behind an access panel in the right bed wall, with the capacity to recharge power tools or energize a tailgate blender or flat screen TV.

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline High Resolution Exterior
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A first for any pickup, the new in-bed audio system, together with the In-Bed Trunk and available 400-watt power inverter, makes Ridgeline the ultimate tailgating vehicle. The new in-bed audio system utilizes six exciters located inside the bed walls, in place of conventional speakers, pumping out sound from the Ridgeline’s audio head unit, with up to 540 watts of power.

Top-Level Safety Performance
Featuring Honda’s next-generation ACE™ body structure, advanced airbag systems and available Honda Sensing™ suite of safety and driver-assist technologies, the new Ridgeline will target the highest available collision safety ratings – an NCAP 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the IIHS. Honda Sensing™ technologies available on the 2017 Ridgeline include Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS). All Ridgeline models will feature a multi-angle rearview camera as standard equipment and upper trims will be available with either Honda LaneWatch™ or Blind Spot Information system.

Ridgeline Development and Manufacturing
Like the first generation Honda Ridgeline, the all-new 2017 Ridgeline was designed and developed by Honda R&D Americas and will be produced by Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama.

About the Honda Light Truck Lineup
Honda set an all-time record for U.S. sales of light truck models in 2015, up nearly 12% from 2014 to 661,188 SUVs, CUVs, pickups and minivans, and besting the previous record of 602,123 Honda-brand light trucks sold in 2006. Honda’s sales success was driven by an unprecedented cadence of new light truck offerings starting in the fall of 2014 with the freshened 2015 Honda CR-V, which was named Motor Trend 2016 Sport Utility of the Year and was America’s best selling SUV again in 2015. In 2015, Honda launched the all-new HR-V crossover and the third generation Pilot SUV. In December, the Pilot was names as a finalist for the 2016 North American Truck/Utility of the Year award.

In 2016, Honda will continue the fortification of its light-truck family of vehicles with the new Ridgeline and a fully redesigned Odyssey minivan. Honda was named the "2016 Best SUV Brand" by U.S. News and World Report, and the Pilot, CR-V, HR-V and Odyssey each has earned a "Best Buy" award from Kelly Blue Book for 2016. The 2016 Pilot and CR-V have received a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for model year 2016, while the 2016 Odyssey minivan has earned a TOP SAFETY PICK rating.

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