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But for off-road capability, the unibody Ridgeline offers only medium performance relative to its nearest body-on-frame competitors, like the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. The Ridgeline’s long wheelbase and independent rear suspension - that gives it its awesome in-bed trunk and excellent road manners - hinders it from traversing anything tougher than a fire road or having a breakover angle greater than 21-degrees.
2008 Honda Ridgelines are available the following trims: RT, RTX, RTS and RTL.
The top of the line RTL trim level I drove had monotone leather seating surfaces, a standard power moonroof, standard XM Satellite Radio, HomeLink remote system, an interior compass in the rearview mirror, heated front seats, and the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition and MP3/ auxiliary input jack. If you want to save a little money, the step below RTS trim level adds alloy wheels, a seven-speaker 160-watt audio system with subwoofer and six-disc, in-dash audio system with steering wheel-mounted controls, dual-zone automatic climate control and an eight-way power driver's seat.
The Ridgeline's easy-to-read meters and gauges were simple to figure out without having to dig through the manual. The interior air and seats heated up in seconds on frosty mornings. I fell in love with the Navigation system because of how easy it was to use on the fly. You don't have to be computer-savvy to figure this one out. In fact, you don't even have to stop driving (although Honda recommends you do).
The second row seating is re-configurable for people and/or cargo, and does so easily. Combine all the excellent space with the GPS, and you could go garage sale hopping, off-roading with friends and equipment, and dining at a new-to-you restaurant, all in one day – no extra maps, no extra space, no planning necessary.
A vehicle like the Honda Ridgeline walks a fine line in true-trucking circles, between being innovative and strange. The Ridgeline mostly being the former. Honda hasn’t held back in putting its own unique stamp on what a pickup should be, and in doing so Honda has likely brought new, non-traditional truck buyers into the segment. It’s moderately popular. Almost 40,000 Ridgelines have sold year-to-date in 2007.
I originally had a distaste for the uneven and untraditional body lines and proportions. But after living with the truck for a week, my only lingering design criticism is a hope for bigger headlights that wrap around the sides of the vehicle, to balance out the bulk – just another aesthetic improvement.
All in all, the Ridgeline is a surprisingly sporty drive. It certainly had those fun Honda qualities and genetics. It’s versatile in the sense of its multi-purpose abilities, but not in the sense of its engine and trim options when compared to other vehicles in its class. But then again, the cargo handling accessory list is extensive. You could package this vehicle with options to package anything.
The Ridgeline doesn’t have to worry about what it is and it isn’t – a platform of innovation, car-like smoothness, and functionality sells this truck.
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