Honda's Ridgeline seems to assert what most of us know: Pickups are built for work, but most of us use them for commuting to and from the office and running weekend errands. The automaker's very first pickup takes a successful City Slicker approach to the manly pursuit of truck-like utility. For the record: We drove the Ridgeline for two weeks and everyone liked it, even our bigger-is-better faction for whom pickups are the equivalent of testosterone therapy.
In photos, the Ridgeline's unibody construction is sleek, but not engaging. Up close, you get a better feel for its broad body panels and smoothed corners. Colored Taffetta White and wearing 17-inch alloy wheels, it actually looked at home, if a bit unadorned, driving through Beverly Hills and the nicer parts of Hollywood, as it did in the more humbly priced neighborhoods where Truckin' editors commonly lurk.
The RTL we drove offered the highest trim level. The square, wide interior exhibited utilitarian styling that looked screwed together well. Granted, we took issue with some of the choices the automaker made, little things like the location of the cruise control on/off switch (lean over and reach down to the bottom of the dash to find it). Gauges in the IP were large, easy to read, and somewhat stylish. The functionality of the navigation unit garnered compliments from even the electronically disinclined among us. The large, flared door handle makes it easier to grab and pull the large door closed from a fully open position. Visibility from the side mirrors, front side mirrors, and windshield was expansive but narrowed noticeably (but not detrimentally) through the back glass and rear side windows. Tall drivers might find the legroom lacking-exacerbated by the dead pedal-which belies the roominess implied by the wide, boxy exterior. The rear seats flip up and lock, yielding 41.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Seating capacity is five.
Testing the 3.5L V-6 with bursts of acceleration during our commutes brought the claimed 245 ft-lbs of torque to bear, which felt neither gratifying nor lacking. The five-speed automatic transmission drew a pleasing curve, thanks to smooth-as-buttah shifting. Braking, however, brought lumps to our throats due to long pedal travel punctuated by grabbiness. Four-wheel independent suspension offers tight car-like handling and a solid feel, and the good turning radius contributed to great parking lot maneuverability.
An integrated closed-box frame strengthens the unibody. With a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds and payload of 1,554 pounds, however, you'll have to enlist your friend's Avalanche to take four pals and a 35-footer to the lake. That little 8.5 cubic-foot trunk recessed into the bed is big enough for a large cooler and the spare (which is not full-sized). Granted, you can't get to it when hauling large payloads, but then, how often do you really fill that bed? To get access to the lock for that trunk, we had to swing the tailgate open to the left (a neat feature). The gate also drops down in a conventional manner.
|Price (as tested) ||$34,640 |
|Engine ||3.5L VTEC V-6 |
|Horsepower ||247 @ 5,750 rpm (SAE) |
|Torque ||245 @ 4,500 rpm (SAE) |
|Transmission ||5-speed automatic |
|Final Drive ||VTM-4 (part-time 4WD) |
|Suspension ||MacPherson struts (f), multi-link with |
trailing arm in the rear (r)
|Brakes ||4-wheel disc, 4-wheel ABS, EBDS, VSA(R) |
|Wheelbase ||122 in |
|Length ||206.8 in |
|Height ||71.2 in |
|Curb Weight ||4,498 lbs |
|Max Trailer Weight ||5,000 lbs |
|Miles Per Gallon (combined) ||18.1, as tested |