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2020 Honda Ridgeline: Which Should You Buy, 2019 or 2020?

2019 Honda Ridgeline

Most significant changes: Standard nine-speed automatic transmission replaces six-speed auto; two fewer trim levels; newly standard Honda Sensing safety tech; newly standard touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay 

Price changes: $75 to $2,025 for the four carryover trims, but the removal of last year’s least expensive trim, the RT, effectively moves the base price up $3,885

On sale: Now

Which should you buy, 2019 or 2020? The 2019 if you want to save money on a lower trim and avoid Honda’s much-maligned touchscreen; otherwise, the 2020 model offers a lot more standard features

Honda streamlined the Ridgeline pickup truck’s trim lineup for 2020, eliminating the base RT and mid-level RTL-T, and added standard Honda Sensing safety tech and its Display Audio touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Previously, the multimedia and safety tech had been restricted only to higher trim levels.

Related: 2019 Honda Ridgeline: Everything You Need to Know

Four trims carry over for 2020: Sport, RTL, RTL-E and Black Edition. Prices increase $485 to $2,025 for the Sport and RTL, depending on driveline; those two have the largest equipment additions. Prices increase just $75 apiece for the RTL-E and Black Edition, which see fewer equipment changes. But gone is the entry-level RT, meaning the cheapest Ridgeline you can buy is the $34,995 Sport (all prices include destination). That’s up $3,885 from the 2019 RT.

The RTL-T, meanwhile, was the lowest-priced version with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those two smartphone-mirroring features are now standard across all Ridgelines for 2020, which is the good news. But it’s tempered by this: They come as part of Honda’s Display Audio multimedia system, which makes heavy usage of touch-sensitive controls instead of physical buttons or knobs. Honda has slowly returned to physical controls with Display Audio in other cars, but the 2020 Ridgeline’s system retains the original setup, and it’s a thorn in our side. It largely earned the truck last-place scores in two categories — Vehicle User Interface, and Media and Connectivity —in our recent 2019 Mid-Size Pickup Truck Challenge, which the Ridgeline nevertheless still won.

By contrast, Honda Sensing, the automaker’s suite of advanced safety tech, is now standard across the 2020 Ridgeline lineup and includes a host of safety tech: forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane-centering steering and adaptive cruise control. Such features were available only on higher trim levels of the 2019 Ridgeline. A blind spot warning system remains that way, on the RTL-E and Black Edition trims, for 2020.

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The Ridgeline’s last major change is a switch to a nine-speed automatic transmission from the previous six-speed auto. Based on EPA estimates, this switch doesn’t provide any material improvement in fuel economy. This also precipitates a switch to Honda’s push-button gear selector, an interface we’ve found unnecessarily confusing with the nine-speed automatic in Honda’s related SUV, the Pilot.

The lone engine choice for the Ridgeline remains unchanged, with a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 providing power. The Ridgeline is still available in either front- or all-wheel drive, and the RTL-E and Black Edition have AWD standard.

Are these changes enough to keep the Ridgeline at the head of the pack for 2020 and beyond? We’ll see.

2019 Honda Ridgeline

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