Test: 2008 Honda Ridgeline
By: Katrina Ramser
12-11-07 22:11 PT
© 2007 PickupTruck.com
Now in its
third year of production, the midsized Honda Ridgeline is what you
get when a car company designs and delivers an unconventional and
versatile crossover utility truck for an active crowd that hopefully
has a thing for Honda motorcycles and ATVs.
is full of surprises; from its unibody chassis to its independent coil-over
rear suspension to its dual-hinged tailgate, which drops down but can
also swing to the side for entry.
long bed includes an 8.5 cu-ft trunk (a first for a pickup) and can
accommodate up to 1,554-lbs of payload. With the tailgate down it can
carry two of Honda's largest off-road motorcycles or one full-sized
Honda ATV. Hence, the match made in off-road heaven.
is the largest Honda ever produced. It garnered huzzahs from the automotive
press by being named Motor Trend’s Truck of
the Year and the North American Truck of the Year when it debuted in
are minor for the 2008 model year. The Ridgeline adds a new wheel design
and fabric interiors only come in a single style. The Ridgeline saw
only aesthetic changes in 2007 as well, like body-colored door handles
and new exterior colors. When you're left to tinker with the little
things, it's a sign the vehicle's mechanicals are working out.
a 2008 Honda Ridgeline RTL equipped with the Ridgeline’s
standard 247-horsepower 245 lb-ft of torque 3.5-liter SOHC V6 engine.
It’s the only engine available and it offers a good compromise
between performance and fuel economy. The Ridgeline hits 16-city/21-highway
and can pull up to 5,000-lbs. There’s no Fuel Flexible Vehicle
(FFV), nor ethanol (E85) options.
expected to add a clean burning V6 diesel engine option for the Ridgeline
by 2010. I can’t
wait to see what impact that motor has on power, towing, and fuel economy.
gas V6 moves the truck on and off-road with the assistance of Honda’s
nifty Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) 4WD.
VTM-4 drive system provides front-wheel-drive during dry-pavement cruising,
for improved fuel economy, but can send up to 70-percent of the torque
to the rear wheels in slippery conditions. It also works like a ‘virtual’ limited
slip differential by using the Ridgeline’s Vehicle Stability Assist
(VSA) traction control and ABS systems to reduce throttle and brake any
slipping wheel, while directing power to the partner wheel with more
traction. In very low traction situations, the driver can push a VTM-4
lock button on the dash to manually engage both rear wheels to get the
truck moving. The maximum torque delivered to the rear wheels allows
the Ridgeline to claw up a 28-degree (53-percent slope) dirt grade.
Ridgeline models come equipped with independent front and rear suspensions
for maximum ride control and comfort. Standard transmission and
oil coolers, dual radiator fans, and pre-wiring for 4 and 7-pin trailer
hook-ups set the Ridgeline up for light-duty towing needs.
drove the Ridgeline from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, known
for its steep grades and breathtaking views.
On the highway,
the Ridgeline was one of the quietest and easiest handling pickups
And on Yosemite’s steep and winding asphalt the 3.5-liter V6 engine
smoothly exerted serious incline power up Glacier Point road without
thrashing or whining. With the proactive VTM-4, there was no skidding
on any dips or turns. The brakes were responsive without being overly
sensitive. I also experienced the Ridgeline going to work on ugly washboard
chip-sealed roads, absorbing the jitters and jounces without jarring
the driver and passengers like a leaf-spring and live axle truck would.
The Ridgeline felt like a very well-planted SUV, not an open bed pickup.
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