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Power comes from a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 engine rated at 255 horsepower and peak torque of 252 lb-ft of torque. That puts the Honda in the same league as the Toyota Tacoma Double Cab, which has a 245 horsepower V6, and the Nissan Frontier crew Cab, which offers a 265-horsepower V6. The engine is the first of any pickup to meet the EPA’s stringent Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) standard for all 50 states. Honda lists the fuel economy rating at 16mpg city/21mpg highway. The Ridgeline has a GVWR of 6050 pounds.

Honda knew it had to appeal to those already having a strong identity with the company from the beginning. Officials call it “synergy with our other Honda products.” There are some 5 million owners of Honda motorcycles, marine products and power equipment. So the truck was designed to accommodate those faithful, and the bed was the best opportunity to win over active-minded consumers. The steel-reinforced composite bed has notches in the front rail for motorcycles. The six tie downs are designed to hold motorcycles or an ATV properly. There is lighting on the C-pillar to help load equipment at night and lighting at the rear of the bed to illuminate tailgate and trunk.

The tailgate and trunk are certainly going to be the most talked about and promoted features of the Ridgeline. The dual-action tailgate swings out for access in tight spaces or to sweep out debris. Or it can fold down like a conventional tailgate. It is rated at 300 pounds. The trunk has a locking, weatherproof lid that opens up to a 8.5-cubic-foot storage space. This trunk can hold a 72-quart cooler and riding gear or up to three golf bags. It also has a drain so it can be filled with ice and drinks for a tailgate party. The spare is located in the trunk area and slides out on a tray for easy access.

The bed is 60 inches long, which is comparable to other midsize 4-door pickups. Minimal wheelhouse intrusion allows flat loading of 4-foot-wide plywood. By lowering the tailgate, the bed length extends to about 6 ½ feet. The floor and sides are constructed of sheet molding composite (SMC) that is dent, slip and corrosion resistant.

The Ridgeline does not offer a towing package. Instead, officials say it was designed with all the necessary equipment in place to handle loads up to 5,000 pounds. The cooling system, including oil and transmission coolers, were designed with towing in mind. The truck also has the necessary wiring for trailer brakes in place. All the customer has to do is install a hitch if towing is required.

Three trim levels will be offered: RT, RT-S and RT-L. Standard features include the power sliding rear window, remote entry, privacy glass, 60/40 fold-up rear seat, power windows, cruise control, map lights, three 12-volt power points and illuminated passenger vanity mirror. Standard audio system includes a 100-watt AM/FM/CD with six speakers and XM satellite radio capability. The Ridgeline will be one of the first pickups to offer voice-activated navigation.

Consumers will have a choice of many upscale options, including leather seating, moonroof, automatic dual-zone climate control, 8-way power driver’s seat and heated seating. A premium audio system that boosts the power up to 160 watts, adds a 6-CD changer, adds an MP3 jack and beefs up the speakers with a subwoofer is also available.

Finally, Honda’s commitment to safety is evident with such standard equipment as anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, electric brake assist, side air bags, side-curtain air bags, 3-point seat belts at all seating positions and LATCH in the rear.

Pricing has not been finalized but is expected to start around $27,000 with the top trim level starting at $32,000.

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