The Honda Ridgeline is a breed of its own in the world of pickups. Unlike the other vehicles in this segment, which use ladder on frame construction, the Ridgeline received a unibody configuration which gives it better ride and handling abilities than what you’ll find in a regular pickup.
The vehicle is available in just one four-door body style and comes in four trim levels namely RT, Sport, RTS and RTL. All models come equipped as standard with a hidden trunk in the cargo bed, a dent-proof bedliner, a four-wheel independent suspension, a trailer hitch and a power-sliding rear window.
The Honda Ridgeline is priced between $28,450 - $34,430 and comes with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. The vehicle is rated as having a 5,000 lb towing capacity and a 1,500 lb bed capacity.
The unique attribute of the Honda Ridgeline is that its cab and bed are united by the same body and not separate like other vehicles in this class. The Japanese pickup uses an innovative architecture that combines the techniques of both unibody and full-frame construction resulting in a fairly agile pickup.
Honda says that this configuration offers 2.5 times more bending rigidity and 20 times the torsional rigidity than the standard ladder frame only type of chassis construction, without affecting the load carrying capacity of the traditional ladder frame.
The front end of the pickup received a set of modern headlamps and a robust radiator grille which bares the company’s logo in its center.
The hood is traversed by two straight lines which point toward the grille, while the front bumper comes with an integrated air intake and two rectangular fog lamps. The manly look of the Ridgeline is also enhanced by the squared shape of the front and rear fenders and the high waistline.
The bottom hinged tailgate can also open sideways and under the load floor you’ll find a large hidden lockable trunk to keep large-sized gear secure. This weatherproof 8.5-cubic-foot storage is made of the same high-strength composite material as the bed.
The entire load bed is covered in plastic so it’s protected by rust, yet it’s a bit smaller than what you’ll usually get in this segment even when it uses the extension of the open tailgate.
The interior is a bit of a disappointment in terms of design and refinement as the Ridgeline cab is far behind its American and even some of the Japanese rivals. The good part is that the robust dash it’s fairly practical and serves very well the purpose of a utilitarian work truck.
In front of the passenger’s seat there are three rectangular bins above a big glove compartment, together with two horizontal rectangular air vents.
The door handles are protected by solid door pulls and they will come in handy when the vehicle ventures on difficult terrains. There is also offered a multi-functional center console which is fitted with a bunch of storage and organizational options.
The second row comes with a 60/40 split bench seat which folds and locks into its place easily, leaving behind a convenient flat floor.
Both front and rear seats are fairly comfortable and the driver’s seat comes with a wide range of adjustments designed to help you find your favorite driving position in no time.
The steering wheel features a pretty ergonomic design, but it’s not the best looking unit you‘ll find around. It can be also adjusted for height, but there aren’t any telescopic adjustments available.
The all-around visibility is faultless and you won’t have any complains about the panoramic windscreen nor the lateral windows or mirrors.
The top of the range models are fitted with an in dash navigation system with Bluetooth, voice recognition and rearview camera.
Engines and performance
Power comes from a 24 valve 3.5 liter VTEC V6 engine which cranks out 250 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. The engine feels pretty nimble while unladen and its performances are comparable to a genuine V8 unit. With maximum load at the back, the engine will feel a bit more strained, but there isn’t something to worry about as it will continue to do its job with dignity.
The fuel consumption isn’t stellar, as it’s comparable to some of the stronger V8 units found in this class. Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates, the V6 is rated at 15 city / 21 highway / 17 combined mpg.
The Honda Ridgeline comes standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission and a heavy-duty transmission cooler, as well as 4-wheel drive and a locking rear differential.
The VTM-4 all wheel drive system is able to send up to 70 % of the power to the rear axle when the rear diff is locked, helping you to get out of trouble when you deal with slippery situations.
Honda Ridgeline Engine Specifications
|Engine||Power - hp||Torque - lb-ft||0-60 mph|
|3.5 liter V6||250||247||8.0 sec|
Ride and handling
Thanks to its unibody construction, the Honda Ridgeline’s driving dynamics are certainly superior to any conventional pickup build using a ladder on frame chassis. The suspensions are also fairly forgivable being able to soak road bumps without too much fuss.
The vehicle has a composed ride and feels more solid than expected with small body lean into corners and a fairly sharp and responsive steering.
Four wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) along with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) will help you bring this mammoth to halt. The stop pedal has a nice, solid feel that inspires confidence in any situation. Other safety systems include the Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control which helps keep drivers in control in the event of an oversteer or understeer.
The Honda Ridgeline has a bit more serene character than the old school pickup trucks which use a ladder type frame, but this doesn’t mean that it’s less capable. The cabin isn’t as comfortable as other vehicles in its class and load bed is pretty short. The engine however is fairly capable and won’t disappoint you in any situation.
It’s clearly not a truck aimed for heavy duty jobs, huge payloads or serious farmers. It’s aimed at those who need only occasional road trips or who deal only with light hauling and towing operations. So we’ll need to look at it for what it and not to judge it against its rugged rivals.