The 2021 Honda Ridgeline changed this year by offering an AWD standard option; retiring the 2WD drivetrain. The good news is that the maximum towing capacity for all trim levels of these model year trucks is rated at 5,000 lbs.
There wasn't much variation in the numbers either, as the lowest rating was specified at 4,500 pounds if you had five occupants in the truck, which included the driver. There were other variables that could lower these ratings even further, which I go into more detail about in this article, so let's dive into the data!
Be sure you read your owner's manual and that you follow all of Honda's requirements and recommendations.
The 2021 models only had AWD models available and some of the charts I gathered from the owner's manual still shows 2WD models, but they are not applicable to the 2021 models.
2021 Ridgeline Overview
Overall Towing Capacity: The 2021 Honda Ridgeline's overall towing capacity was set at 4,500-5,000 lbs. It decreased with the number of passengers in the vehicle (up to five total). The weight of the trailer, the amount of the load, and everything in the trailer, including the accessories and cargo, impacted the maximum weight capacity.
Engine Options: There was only one engine option for these model year trucks and they equipped it with a 3.5L V6, which is common in other Honda models, such as the Pilot and Passport.
Trim Levels: There are four trim levels available for the 2021 model year; the Sport, RTL, RTL-E and the Black Edition. The trim levels shared the same maximum weight capacity of 5,000 pounds, which meant that the trim levels did not affect your overall weight rating specifications; they instead offered distinct features at varying price points.
Assumed Weight: Honda assumed the weight for each passenger to be set at 150 pounds each. They also assumed that each passenger brings carry-on items weighing in at 17.6 lbs. If the weight of the passenger/or cargo change, the amount of the specified trailer load limits and tongue weight rating would change with it.
The chart below is out of the 2021 Honda Ridgeline's owner's manual. It continues to give specifications on the 2WD. That is why you are going to see a strike through on the 2WD in the towing load limit chart. As mentioned earlier, the AWD is standard as of 2021 for the Honda Ridgelines.
The table gives the maximum load limits for the 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD model. They calculate the maximum load limit based upon the number of occupants, the weight of the trailer, the amount of cargo, and everything in or on the trailer.
Maximum towing load limits with two passengers starts out at 5,000 lbs. and the more passengers you have in the truck, the more the capacity decreases. For three passengers, the maximum is 4, 875 lbs; for four passengers, the maximum is 4,750 lbs and for five passengers; the capacity is 4,500 lbs.
The amount of cargo in the trailer can also shrink or increase, depending on the weight of the occupants and the weight of the items they bring with them in the truck.
Tongue Weight Rating:
The tongue weight rating can affect how effectively and safely you pull your trailer behind your truck. The tongue weight is the amount of pressure the trailer tongue puts on the hitch ball. If you have too little weight, the trailer you are pulling can sway; and if you have too much, the trailer's tires will compensate for the excess weight and push the back end of the vehicle around.
The chart shows the tongue load weight ratings, with the trailer at full capacity, to be between 5 and 15% of the trailer's total weight. It breaks down the percentages for boat trailers (5-15%) and all other types of trailers (10-15%).
The rating is only for the AWD models, since the 2WD models are obsolete as of 2021. Keep in mind the amount of passengers you have in the Ridgeline. It affects the tongue weight rating formula. The more passengers you have in your Ridgeline; the less of a tongue weight rating you can have, as the tongue weight contributes to the truck's GVWR.
Your vehicle's brakes cannot properly slow down the vehicle and the trailer on its own; especially if it is towing over 1,000 lbs. Honda says it is necessary to equip the trailer with its own brake system if the total weight of the trailer is over 1,000 lbs.
It is important to note that you are legally responsible for the amount of weight your vehicle pulls on its own, versus equipping the trailer with trailer brakes. Each state differs as far as their weight requirements and you should check your local laws before hitting the road to make sure you're compliant.
Honda 2021 Ridgeline comes with four trim levels and they are: the Sport, RTL, RTL-E and Black Edition. Trim levels do not affect the trailer weight ratings though, as the chart shows the trim levels and how they share the same maximum weight capacity of 5,000 pounds, with the proper towing equipment. Honda recommends purchasing Honda's parts and accessories when available.
 Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs. Towing requires accessory towing equipment. Please see your Honda dealer for details.
GVWR, GCWR and GAWR Figures:
The gross combined weight rating, gross vehicle weight rating, and gross axle weight ratings were found in a chart that were located in the owner's manual and is posted below for your reference. Remember, only the AWD models apply for these metrics.
The chart is helpful when weighing the fully loaded vehicle and trailer (including passengers) on a public scale. You can also estimate the weight of the cargo and trailer if a public scale is not accessible.
GCWR: The Gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCWR) of a vehicle is the maximum weight of a vehicle and the trailer it is towing. The GCWR for the 2021 Ridgeline is set at 10,031 pounds.
GVWR: Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the most weight the truck itself can handle, while operating safely. This weight includes the passengers, cargo, and trailer tongue load. You can also find the GVWR on the certification label, that is located on the driver's doorjamb or the door itself. The GVWR for these model year trucks tops out at 6,019 pounds.
GAWRs: Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is the most weight the axle of a vehicle can support and is usually specified for both the front and rear axles. The front gross axle weight limit is 3,131 pounds and the rear gross axle weight limit is set at 3,263 pounds. The GAWR can be found on the same label as the GVWR.
Other Notes I Found:
I found other important information in the owner's manual regarding octane rating, external conditions, and weight distribution hitches.
Honda recommends a minimum octane rating of 87. Honda does not recommend using gasoline that has a lower octane rating than 87, since it may cause issues that could result in damaging the engine.
The external conditions you might encounter include road conditions, such as inclines and declines (hilly roads), hotter than average outside temperatures and higher altitudes. All these conditions affect the performance of the vehicle, especially while towing. Check your owner's manual when driving in adverse conditions to see what Honda recommends when these situations are present.
Lastly, Honda talks about how weight distribution hitches are unnecessary for these trucks, but you can install one if you want to, just be sure to have it professionally installed.
I found a lot of the information for this article in the 2021 owner's manual and spec sheet. The links are listed below if you want more information on a certain subject. The owner's manual is where the charts and all of the raw data is located and the spec sheet shows you the key features of the vehicle, with more details on the different trim levels.