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

California International Auto Show
SoCal auto enthusiasts rushed to the California International Auto Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in October. On the main floor, automakers showcased their '06 models and even revealed some new products. Down below, onlookers enjoyed custom autos all day, while DJs mixed housy beats after hours. Check out our snaps of some of the choicer trucks and SUVs we discovered at the show.

Number Crunch
$15 Billion
The amount by which GM will be reducing its retiree healthcare liability, according to its latest deal with the UAW.

$7 Billion
Additional savings GM expects to garner by increasing productivity at some factories and closing others, cutting manufacturing jobs, tweaking healthcare for salaried employees, cutting more manufacturing jobs, reducing costs of raw materials, and other factors.

Best Offer
GM is looking for a buyer of its controlling interest in the GMAC financing company.

$500
Value of gasoline incentives now offered by Ford to new car buyers.

A Long Way To Go
One stripe down, 12 more to go. Here is 2/13 of our spine image for you. Not much to see? Patience, there is more to come. This spine image is brought you by the truck suspension and accessory folks at AIM Industries, Dept. TR, 260 S. Hibbert, Mesa, AZ 85210, (800) 289-9980, www.truckin.com.

Chevrolet Sport Wagon
No, this is not a zebra, but the newest Chevrolet SUV and yet another ute built on GM's Theta architecture-although this is a bit smaller than the current Theta vehicles and is being referred to as a "sub-Theta" crossover.

Sharing the Theta architecture with the Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Vue, and Suzuki's upcoming SUV based on the 2005 NAIAS Concept X entry, this SUV-based on the Chevrolet S3X concept from the 2004 Paris Motor Show-was styled in Korea by Daewoo and co-developed with GM Daewoo Auto & Technology here in the U.S. It will likely carry a variety of nameplates, including Chevrolet, Opel, Saturn, and possibly even Buick.

The Korean market will get a Daewoo version of this SUV, but it's also expected to carry the Chevrolet and Opel nameplates across Europe. And, a first for Chevrolet in Europe-a diesel powerplant will be offered. But, most importantly, it will be a new sport wagon/crossover entry for General Motors.

The Daewoo version will offer seating for seven, but the European models will only offer five-passenger configurations.-Brenda Priddy & Company

2008 BMW V5
It seems like BMW has everyone fooled with its Volkswagen-Thing-like engineering mule, but our sources in Germany are speculating that underneath this shell is BMW's R-Class fighter.

These sources refer to this project as "Space Functional Concept" (SFC)-a vehicle with the roominess of a large station wagon, capabilities of an SUV, luxury amenities, and the driving experience of a sporty coupe. Based on all the information we've been able to obtain, our illustrators put together this rendering of what we believe the South Carolina-built crossover may look like. This stylish seven-seater will be RWD, with optional AWD available, and will be equipped with the latest in German technology.-Brenda Priddy & Company

  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • View Full Article