We South Africans are loyal bakkie buyers.
We will buy our double cab Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux and be happy with it for the next five years.
After that, we go ahead and swop in our old bakkie for – you guessed it – the latest Ranger or Hilux, and the cycle continues.
This is one of the many reasons why it is difficult for car brands to introduce a new bakkie to the country: loyalty is hard to break.
It is likely part of the reason why brands such as Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and Honda do not bring the rest of their bakkie offerings to South Africa.
This includes the Honda Ridgeline.
From the outside, the Ridgeline looks every bit as rugged and modern as a bakkie on the local market – and at some angles, I would argue, it even looks better.
Its nose is squared off, it’s sporting a power bulge on the hood, and it has a sporty yet rugged front bumper with broad side vents.
It stands atop 18-inch wheels and has a skid plate installed below to protect it from harsh impacts and debris that flies up.
If this is not enough, a new package that was created in partnership with Honda Performance Development is also available.
This includes a unique grille, black fender flares, bronze wheels, and special graphics in order to differentiate your Ridgeline from the rest.
At the back, there is a dual exhaust outlet and a tailgate which can either open in the traditional up-and-down manner, or you can swing it open like a door for easier loading and unloading.
The load bed then has space for sizeable cargo, as well as a lockable compartment below the rear bed where you can store valuables.
The inside of the bakkie provides a good amount of space – offering more than the popular US-focused Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, and Ford Ranger.
The interior is also on par with that of a fancy sedan and features leather seats, a sizeable infotainment display, a half-digital instrument cluster, a centre console with additional storage space, and button drive selectors – in favour of a gearshift lever.
The cheapest Ridgeline therefore offers a more compelling package than most mid-range bakkies do locally, and notable features include heated front seats, a dual-action tailgate, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a rear-view camera.
Moving up the range gets you more impressive features, such as cross-traffic monitors, a 540-watt sound system with speakers in the loading bed, wireless chargers, a heated leather steering wheel, electric seats with memory function, and ambient lighting.
Additionally, the Ridgeline offers an array of safety features called the “Honda Sensing Suite” – consisting of adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, a road departure mitigation system, and a collision mitigation braking system.
As all these impressive features add up to a lot of weight – 2,012kg to be exact – it will need an equally-impressive engine to push it around.
For this, Honda fitted a 3.5-litre V6 engine as standard across the range, which generates 209kW of power and 355Nm of torque.
It pushes the Ridgeline form 0-100km/h in about 6.3 seconds – according to the company.
Due to this powerful motor, the bakkie is capable of towing loads of up to 2.2 tonnes, and has a loading capacity of 718kg.
It’s then 5.34 metres long, 2.0 metres wide, and reaches 1.8 metres at its tallest point – which makes the dimensions nearly identical to that of the Ford Ranger.
The Honda Ridgeline isn’t cheap, however, and has a US dollar converted starting price of R546,000.
The most expensive model is then R660,000 when converted from US dollars.