2010 Honda Ridgeline Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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The Ridgeline, first introduced as a 2006 model, is a half-ton, four-door, four-wheel drive pickup for the next generation that is loaded with innovative features. For 2010, it will continue to be offered in three levels of trim: the base RT; the mid-range RTS; and the top-of-the-line RTL.  All are powered by the same 3.5-litre, 24-valve, VTEC V6 engine that mates to a 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. All models utilize Honda's heavy-duty VTM-4 four-wheel drive system.

The Ridgeline design actually began with a blank sheet of paper, since Honda had no preconceived notion of the truck they would build. The truck in question would have to be midsize in length making it garageable, a four-door with large interior space, powerful, and dependable. It would also have to be versatile and flexible. The Ridgeline turned out to be all that and more.

Visually, the Ridgeline features a new grille design, along with new front and rear bumper styling. It still offers up an athletic stance, with an exterior profile not unlike that of Chevy's Avalanche, although it is without the latter truck's "Mid-Gate" system. It is shorter than a full-size pickup, but features a one-piece, cab-to-bed design. The C-pillar sweeps back in sail-like fashion, as the bedsides rise forward from the tailgate to meet it. The bed measures five feet in length (6.5 feet with the gate down) and is constructed of composite SMC material that is scratch and ding resistant. The industry-first, lockable, spacious "In-Bed Trunk" provides 240 litres (8.5 cubic feet) of storage volume and remains a most useful feature.  The tailgate is a dual access unit that swings down traditionally (capable of supporting heavy loads), or opens to the left for easy curbside loading and unloading -- kudos for this feature.

Moving inside, the Ridgeline offers an ambience worthy of many an upscale family sedan with seating for five adults. Seats are comfortable front and rear. The aft seats feature a 60/40 split and fold upward, making room for large items, and easing access to underfloor storage. There are large, sculpted door pulls forward that double as grab assist handles, and the air conditioning serves both front and rear occupants. The centre console houses a two-position, hidden storage area in addition to cupholders.

The price of the base Ridgeline is set at $34,990 and rises up to $43,690 in top-tier EL-L Navi trim, the way my test vehicle was outfitted.

The Ridgeline is the perfect solution for Honda loyalists who want or need a pickup truck. It is suitable for family transportation, errand running, commuting, light off-road duty, and for arriving at upscale social events in style.

The styling evokes a certain masculinity, while the interior belies the traditional truck atmosphere. It is functionally versatile, while managing to offer a heightened level of luxury.

The 250 horsepower VTEC V6 cranks out plenty of power with no noticeable effort. Handling characteristics tend to be more car-like than those normally experienced in a traditional truck. The Ridgeline is agile, and takes curves and twists nimbly. The ride quality is much more civilized than your average truck too, soaking up bumps with ease.

If there is a shortcoming at all, it may be the bed length (bed width is claimed to be class leading).  Bottom line: the Ridgeline is an example of Honda having gotten everything right before tackling the highly competitive hauler marketplace, and then continually and progressively improving upon it. It is full of innovative and satisfying qualities and features that rank well above many vehicles that challenge for the truck buyers' dollar – but please don't refer to it as a Japanese Avalanche.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Honda, 2010, Ridgeline, $20,000 - $29,999,

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