As my colleagues zip through downtown Las Vegas in the latest, greatest luxury and performance cars, I unload a table, chairs, and tent from the bed of our long-term 2017 Honda Ridgeline. It’s Automobile‘s annual All-Stars event, and this is the first time I haven’t planned the boondoggle since starting at the magazine some six years ago. Road test editor Eric Weiner has reluctantly taken the reins, and I’ve agreed to be his right-hand man, managing some of the more mundane logistics that keep an event of this magnitude running smoothly.
I spent the weekend stuffing the Ridgeline’s bed and in-bed trunk with large odds and ends like a ladder, a big cooler, and flats of bottled water. Smaller necessities that couldn’t be tied down — cleaning supplies, hand tools, snacks — were packed tightly into the back of the cab, which is extremely spacious when the seat bottoms are folded back and stored upright. I fumble around the parking lot of The Resort on Mount Charleston, trying to find four big rocks that will help keep our tent from sailing away on the winter winds as my “Best of The Beatles” Spotify playlist streams through the Honda’s clear, powerful in-bed audio system.
Once everything is assembled and set, I curl up in the bed for a quick nap, nuzzled between bags of trail mix, waking up when I hear the overrun of an Aston Martin V-12. My peers descend upon the mountain in roves and immediately swap keys so they can start driving toward the 11,900-foot peak on clean, clear, tight, and twisty passes. I join in for a few, spending time behind the wheel of the surprisingly solid Audi A4 and the raucously amusing BMW M2, but soon I’m back at the resort, packing up the Ridgeline to preemptively move to another location.
Driving back toward the highway, I notice a small, rutted fire road running north into a small cluster of hills. I peer back to check that nothing in the cab or bed has shifted, then cut the steering wheel right and drop off the pavement. The Ridgeline bobs side-to-side as the narrow, shredded path snakes its way up a brush-covered knoll. When I get to the top of the hill, the sun is setting, I can see the dim lights of Las Vegas in the distance, and sports cars zoom along the road I left behind. This is the best All-Stars event I’ve been to, even though I’ve driven only two of the 23 contending cars. I’m seeing everyone else enjoy the event as I help my good friend Weiner by driving around in our Honda Ridgeline, which I thoroughly enjoy. If trucks were eligible to win an All-Stars award, the Honda Ridgeline would certainly be one of my picks.
2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E Specifications
|ON SALE||Fall 2017|
|ENGINE||3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve V-6/280 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD truck|
|EPA MILEAGE||18/25 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||210.0 x 78.6 x 70.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.4 sec|