Honda reinvents the wheel – or at least the humble pickup bed

The Honda Ridgeline has been around since the 2006 model year, but the truck is completely new for 2017. Its unibody structure is based on the Honda Pilot, but the Ridgeline is no crossover. This crew cab pickup offers room for five and a cargo bed that measures 5.3 feet long by 5.0 feet across, meaning it’s the largest of the “standard length” cargo beds in the mid-size truck class. And like the first generation, the Ridgeline offers the In-Bed Trunk and Dual-Action Tailgate.

Honda has certainly done its homework with the second-generation Ridgeline. It now looks more attractive, has a more efficient powertrain, offers a sophisticated AWD system, and an impressive 5,000 pounds worth of towing capacity. The truck can be had in seven trim levels that range in price from $29,475 up to $42,870 before options.

But that’s not what this article is about. We’re talking about its cargo bed. Stick around to TopSpeed for the full driven review in the coming days. So let’s dive into these features.

Continue reading for more information.

Functionality Goes to Bed

Quick Look: 2017 Honda Ridgeline's Cargo Bed - image 699840

First, the tailgate. Honda calls it the Dual-Action tailgate – and for good reason. It opens like any conventional pickup truck’s tailgate, folding down and allowing access to the cargo box. The gate also opens and swings out, much like a door. This gives users a choice in how to use the tailgate. Honda wasn’t the first to use the design, however. American station wagons first developed the double-action tailgate back in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the Ridgeline’s tailgate is easy to use and offers tons of functionality.

Next there is the In-Bed Trunk. Swing opening the Dual-Action tailgate and the electronic latch for the In-Bed Trunk is exposed. Simply lift up on the handle and the rear quarter of the cargo floor raises up to reveal a rather deep cargo hold. This watertight compartment is perfect for luggage, tools, sports equipment, or other loose stuff you want to keep dry and safe from thieving hands. Both the tailgate and the trunk lid lock in conjunction with the doors.

Quick Look: 2017 Honda Ridgeline's Cargo Bed - image 699832
Quick Look: 2017 Honda Ridgeline's Cargo Bed - image 699833
Quick Look: 2017 Honda Ridgeline's Cargo Bed - image 699835
Quick Look: 2017 Honda Ridgeline's Cargo Bed - image 699839
"The 2017 Honda Ridgeline’s bed is the most handy and feature-laden bed in the pickup segment."

The In-Bed Trunk also holds the compact spare tire, scissor jack, and all the other roadside accessories. These items are fitted to a tray that slides out of its cubby hold when two wing nuts are loosened. This makes gaining access to the spare tire quite simple – that is, as long as you don’t have a cargo bed full of mulch or plywood.

Speaking of plywood, the Ridgeline’s bed is wide enough that 4x8 sheets of the plywood or drywall will perfectly fit between the wheel wells. And thanks to its raised floor height, the cargo bed has very little intrusion from the wheel wells, making it far more useful for hauling larger, bulkier items. A total of eight tie-down hooks are scattered around the bed for securing stuff. They have a pass-through and cleat-like hooks, giving multiple ways to use them.

But the Ridgeline isn’t all about work; it knows how to have a good time. On RTL-E and Black Edition trim levels, Honda’s Truck Bed Audio system allows for a music-filled tailgating experience. When parked, the radio can switch from in-cab to in-bed via a menu within the infotainment system. This routes music to the bed. Honda doesn’t use conventional speakers, but rather exciters behind the plastic bed walls to create sounds. It’s actually the bed walls that are making the music. This makes the system impervious to water, dirt, or impacts.

The In-Bed Trunk can also double as a cooler. It’s not insulated like a cooler, but the thick plastic surrounding it can keep ice for several hours. I experienced this myself at the Texas Truck Rodeo last spring when Honda had a Ridgeline full of waters. The ice kept all day. A twist-out drain plug allows for easy draining.

All told, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline’s bed is the most handy and feature-laden bed in the pickup segment. It might not be the largest bed offered in the mid-size category, but it’s the largest “standard size” bed out of all its current competition. And with an impressive payload capacity of 1,588 pounds, the Ridgeline isn’t just for light-duty work, either. Mid-size truck buyers would be doing themselves a great injustice if they didn’t give the Ridgeline a look. It’s more truck than most folks will ever need.

Be sure to watch for TopSpeed’s full review of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline.

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