Honda’s Ridgeline has always worked well as a truck. Its towing and payload abilities fulfill most needs of the typical weekend warrior, and its unibody construction and independent rear suspension deliver the best on-pavement ride and handling in the business. But the Ridgeline doesn’t look enough like other trucks. It rides too low, the nose is too stubby, and the cargo box comes in only one length, which aligns with other mid-size pickups’ short bed option. Trucks from Ram, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, and General Motors all cast similarly shaped shadows. The Honda? Nope. It looks like a crossover that’s halfway done morphing into a truck, and that screws with people’s minds and expectations. For 2021, with the second-generation Ridgeline in its fourth year, Honda has decided to butch it up. Make it more trucky. More rugged. Tougher.
The leading edge of Honda’s mucho-macho offensive is the new HPD package. HPD stands for Honda Performance Development, and it’s part of Honda’s push to create cachet (and profits) in the vein of what Toyota’s done with the TRD brand. While Toyota’s off-road heritage evokes jungle treks, African safaris, and United Nations disaster relief, Honda’s history in the dirt is intertwined with motocross bikes, Trail 70s, and ATVs. Honda has campaigned a Ridgeline race truck in Baja, but they’ve still got work to do translating their powersports off-road cred to the automotive side. For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.