Honda's first pickup truck was never an off-road, construction-site bruiser like those from Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and even Toyota and Nissan. Built on top of a front-wheel-drive car chassis, with an independent suspension and a V-6 engine as its only powertrain, it was designed more for hauling groceries in town than construction equipment into the back 40. For weekend warriors, the Ridgeline's full-time four-wheel drive, car-like handling and flexible storage solutions are exactly what they need.
For 2012, the Ridgeline gets a Sport package to accentuate its on-road persuasion: beefy, blacked-out 18-inch alloy wheels and a honeycomb grille give it an aggressive look. The Ridgeline's only engine, a 3.5-liter 250-horsepower V-6 engine, struggles to back up the sporty image. Four-wheel drive with Variable Torque Management among all wheels comes standard, as does a five-speed automatic transmission.
In the Ridgeline's favor, its fuel economy, at 15/20 mpg city/highway, is among the best in the pickup truck class. But this compact truck size comes at a full-size price: the $29,150 starting price has not garnered it many fans. The Ridgeline, then, is a uniquely Honda way of looking at the pickup truck segment -- a compact vehicle that is innovative for innovation's sake -- and this may be its biggest problem against its competitors.
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: RT, RTS, RTL, RTL with Navigation
A Sport package debuts for 2012, which gives the Ridgeline a blacked-out effect: black wheels, darkened headlights and taillights, and a new honeycomb grille imparts a level of sportiness.
The Ridgeline has a look all its own; it is squared-off with a faux-macho stance, but its short bed with high, sloping walls serve to deemphasize its trucklike nature. It is sized far smaller than most full-size trucks on the road today. Features like lockable in-bed trunk, power folding mirrors, and a tailgate that drops down or swings outward are some clever storage features.
The interior carries on the square, rugged theme from the exterior. All climate and radio controls are separated into their respective areas on the almost-vertical dashboard. The Ridgeline features Honda's only column shifter, an old-school touch. A flip-down CD changer feels decidedly dated, but USB and MP3 capabilities are standard. The 60/40 split rear seats flip upwards for underseat storage or larger objects like bicycles.
Performance & Handling
The Ridgeline's only engine is a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 linked to a five-speed automatic transmission. Honda's Variable Torque Management (VTM) system varies power to all four wheels, based on conditions. The car-based construction and an independent suspension on all four wheels means the Ridgeline drives a lot more like a car than a traditional truck. Unfortunately, it also hauls like a car. The Ridgeline's maximum payload and towing capacities of 1100 pounds and 5000 pounds are useful, but far below the competition.
Both drivers and passengers have dual-stage front airbags as well as side airbags with passenger detection and a rollover sensor. Front seats feature active head restraints to protect against whiplash. Anti-lock brakes, stability control and tire pressure monitoring are also standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
15 mpg city/20 mpg highway
- Car-like handling
Full-time four-wheel drive
Flexible storage options
You Won't Like
- V-6 power with average fuel economy
Limited towing capacity
Solid, unorthodox, not a player
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Ranger