The Ridgeline is the first pickup truck with a secure storage compartment built right into the cargo bed. According to Honda, it's also the first midsize pickup with an independent rear suspension, which is intended to improve ride quality. The Ridgeline is meant for light-duty offroad use and when properly equipped can tow a 5,000-pound trailer. All-wheel drive is standard.
The Ridgeline lineup includes the RT, RTS, RTL and RTX. The RTL comes with a standard moonroof and can be equipped with a navigation system. Standard features on the Ridgeline RTX include a trailer hitch, gray alloy wheels, a unique honeycomb-mesh grille, body-colored door handles and a standard towing package that includes a trailer hitch and wiring harness.
A driver's side illuminated vanity mirror and monotone leather interior are available. For 2008, the RTS and RTL models will come with a new alloy wheel finish.
Nearly all pickup trucks look roughly the same, with a traditional three-box design on a simple ladder frame. Honda took a different route with the Ridgeline, promising a "modern technical appearance" that includes the integrated cargo box. The top of the cargo box incorporates angled sections that yield a "sail panel" profile, and Honda says the Ridgeline's torsional rigidity is more than 20 times stiffer than that of a conventional pickup truck.
Built on a relatively long 122-inch wheelbase, the Ridgeline is 206.8 inches long overall. The cargo box is 49.5 inches wide and 5 feet long. Made with steel-reinforced composite material, the bed can hold up to 1,100 pounds of cargo. Four bed lights and six tie-down cleats are installed. The dual-action tailgate flips down or swings open like a door.
Honda's weather-resistant in-the-bed trunk has 8.5 cubic feet of storage space. Made to open with either a switch or the key, it can hold up to 300 pounds of secured cargo and incorporates a drain plug.
Up to five occupants can fit inside the Ridgeline. The rear seat has a 24-degree seatback angle, which is identical to that of the company's Accord sedan. Beneath the backseat is 2.6 cubic feet of storage space. The 60/40-split backseat can flip up for storage. The gauges are deep-set but easy to read. The front doors include massive grab handles.
Honda has installed plenty of storage space inside the Ridgeline, including a huge glove box. A powered rear window is standard. Leather upholstery and heated front seats are included in the RTL edition. Honda's optional navigation system uses an 8-inch screen and has voice-recognition technology.
Under the Hood
The Ridgeline's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 247 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 245 pounds-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. The engine teams with a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.
Four-channel antilock brakes include electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Honda's Vehicle Stability Assist electronic stability system is standard, and every Ridgeline includes side curtain airbags with rollover sensing and side-impact airbags.
Refinement and solidity top the list of Ridgeline characteristics. Other than some engine noise when accelerating, even moderately, few truck-like sensations are evident. On the other hand, the Ridgeline has a somewhat heavy feel overall and doesn't maneuver as smartly as some compact pickups. Still, a fully-loaded Ridgeline can run through twists and turns without balking, and this pickup tows a trailer of maximum capacity without undue strain.
Despite ample engine output, passing power isn't quite as exuberant as expected. Highway wind noise is noticeable. Although the ride is comfortable most of the time, certain road surfaces can transmit considerable commotion to occupants.
The seats deliver excellent support. Knee space is marginal in the rear, but headroom and foot room are ample. The in-bed trunk is a useful innovation that makes you wonder why no one thought of it before, though it's not so useful if the cargo bed is loaded.