Should You Take the Honda Ridgeline Off Road?

The Honda Ridgeline has some skillful off-road technology, but it may need a suspension upgrade to make up for issues with its dimensions.
Written by Drew Waterstreet
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The Honda Ridgeline does have some impressive off-road technology. Still, some fundamental specifications, like ground clearance and chassis style, hold it back from being a true trail boss.
Considering Honda markets the 2022 Ridgeline as a “mid-size adventure truck” there’s a lot of pressure to live up to the advertising.
In this article, we're here to take you on a deep dive into the off-road capabilities of the
Honda Ridgeline
. We’ll discuss the applicable specifications, how it stacks up to the competition, and how the Ridgeline scores out on Jerry's DIRT off-road rating system.
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Can the Honda Ridgeline go off road?

For the most part, yes. Its performance metrics and off-road technology features make the Ridgeline fully capable of navigating the roads less traveled. But, some of the fundamental specifications, like ground clearance and chassis style, cause some concern for intense adventuring. Here’s our take.

Ground clearance

The Ridgeline has 7.6 inches of ground clearance, which is below the off-road recommendation of 8.8 to 10.8 inches
Well, ground clearance is the distance between the lowest part of the vehicle and the ground. This is especially applicable when off-roading because you can encounter obstructions or uneven surfaces. With only 7.6 inches of clearance, the Ridgeline is susceptible to bottoming out or underbody damage—not ideal for an off-road truck.

Torque

The best off-road vehicles pack a big punch with low-end
torque
—that is, high amounts of torque at lower rpm. This power is essential to scaling over boulders or up steep inclines. With 262 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm, the Ridgeline can maintain momentum while not pushing the engine too hard.

Body

The Ridgeline is one of the few trucks on the market with a unibody—this means the body also serves as the frame. Most trucks have a body-on-frame design where the frame and body are separate parts.
You may sacrifice a little payload and towing capacity with a unibody, but in exchange, you get a smooth ride, more sturdiness, and a lower center of gravity—all good things for rugged off-road terrain.

Drivetrain

This is where the Ridgeline shines as an off-road vehicle. Honda’s intelligent variable torque management (i-VTM4®)all-wheel-drive system allows the truck to distribute optimum torque between each tire based on necessity. Meanwhile, its intelligent traction management system automatically senses and appropriately adjusts to expertly handle normal, snow, sand, and mud terrains.

Angles

Off-roading is all about angles: specifically, the approach angle and departure angle: 
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The approach and departure angles for the 2022 Honda Ridgeline are 20.4 and 19.6 degrees, respectively. 
To give you some perspective, the 2022
Ford F-150
Lariat has a 22.9-degree approach angle and a 25.3-degree departure angle. So, as you can see, the Ridgeline is lacking behind the competition in this specification.

Off-road rating: Rough and Ready

We’ve rated the Honda Ridgeline using Jerry’s super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Rating
Meaning
Description
D
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
I
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
R
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
T
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The Honda Ridgeline earns an R rating: This truck has the performance to handle off-road terrain, but the ground clearance and approach/departure angles keep it in the Rough and Ready rating. However, adding an aftermarket suspension package could address these issues.

The best off-road alternatives to the Honda Ridgeline

Considering the pros and cons that we’ve laid out thus far—in addition to a hefty starting price of $38,140 for a 2022 model—you may want to hear about some alternatives to the Honda Ridgeline. Here are our recommendations:
Alternative
Model
Price
Description
Best affordable alternative
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
$23,990
For almost $15,000 less, the Santa Cruz is a viable budget-friendly option. Albeit, you do sacrifice some size and performance, making it less ideal for off-roading.
Best eco-friendly alternative
2022 Ford Maverick
$19,995
Feel confident that you’re doing nature a favor by off-roading in a truck that runs on a hybrid powertrain. However, your ride will not be nearly as smooth as in a Honda Ridgeline.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2022 Jeep Gladiator
$35,315
The Jeep nameplate should speak for itself, but we’ll state the obvious: the Gladiator is simply an off-road beast.
MORE: Cheap off-road trucks
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