By KBB.com Editors
When compared to the traditional pickup truck, the 2009 Honda Ridgeline may look a bit quirky. From its flying-buttress sheetmetal connecting the cab to the bed to its unit-body construction and four-wheel independent suspension, the Ridgeline is anything but conventional. Intended to appeal to younger buyers with an appetite for weekend adventures, the Ridgeline is designed less for work and more with play in mind. It offers a roomy cabin for four with a great set of front bucket seats and a unique storage compartment below the bed that's perfect for hiding valuables. The Ridgeline's eight inches of ground clearance and advanced VTM-4 all-wheel-drive system can tackle just about any obstacle, making it ideal for traversing deep snow as well as going off-road.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a medium-sized pickup with outstanding resale and build quality, the 2009 Honda Ridgeline may be just the ticket. A locking weather-resistant trunk positioned in the cargo bed floor is easily accessed via the dual-action tailgate, which flips down in the normal way or swings open like a door.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you need a pickup for serious payload and towing duties, the 2009 Honda Ridgeline will not be your first choice. Towing capacity and offroad capabilities, while suitable for target buyers, fall short of many traditional body-on-frame pickups.What's New for 2009
The 2009 Honda Ridgeline gets a major refresh job, with a new grille, new front and rear bumpers and an updated interior. Other changes include more horsepower from the 3.5-liter V6 and a standard trailer hitch on all models.Driving It Driving Impressions
Refined solidity is the byword, along with a comfortable highway ride. On some rougher surfaces, though, quite a bit of road commotion is transmitted. Except for bit of engine noise under hard acceleration, there is very little truck-like sensation inside. The Ridgeline handles moderate off-road treks with ease and, when towing a maximum-weight trailer, or with its bed filled, you hardly realize you're pulling a load. Still, the 2009 Honda Ridgeline has a heavy overall feel, due in part to its all-wheel-drive componentry, which cuts a bit into agility. Passing power is adequate, but not wholly energetic at all speeds. Four-channel anti-lock braking (ABS) incorporates electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist for more effective "panic" stops.Favorite Features
Why didn't anyone think of this common-sense idea before? On the down side, if you plan to load up the cargo bed, don't put important items inside the trunk because they won't be accessible.
Even if you're not reaching for the trunk, the ability to open the tailgate to the side rather than flipping it downward can be handy.
Five passengers can ride in the Ridgeline, though rear knee space is marginal. Handy storage spots are all over the front compartment, including a huge, easy-to-reach glovebox. In the rear, the 24-degree seatback angle matches that of an Accord sedan. Under the rear seat is 2.6 cubic feet of storage, and a mountain bike can fit inside with the rear seat flipped down. Engineers have concentrated on neat details, like heater elements in the windshield that turn on automatically when needed, to prepare the wipers in cold weather. Side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensing are also standard and Honda claims a five-star rating in government crash-testing.Exterior
Even up front, the Ridgeline is different, with a new look Honda refers to as a "more chiseled appearance." Built on a relatively long (122-inch) wheelbase, the Ridgeline is nearly a foot-and-a-half shorter than a Ford F-Series CrewCab. Fitted with four lights, the five-foot cargo bed is made of SRC composite, and the In-Bed Trunk holds 8.5 cubic feet. Honda claims bending rigidity is 2.5 times that of a traditional pickup, while torsional rigidity is 20 times stiffer. Up to 1,100 pounds of cargo can go into the bed, and the Ridgeline can tow a 5,000-pound trailer.Notable Standard Equipment
In addition to the Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive system (VTM-4), standard equipment for the RT trim includes air conditioning, cruise control, heated wipers, a tilt steering column, power sliding rear window, 100-watt six-speaker CD stereo, Vehicle Stability Assist, Brake Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring and Electronic Brake Distribution. Up one level, the RTS adds painted alloy wheels, seven speaker audio system with subwoofer, an eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar support and dual-zone automatic climate control. The top-of-the-line RTL adds leather upholstery, a power moonroof, XM Satellite Radio and heated front seats. Honda claims the Ridgeline was the first pickup with standard electronic stability control.Notable Optional Equipment
The only factory option is the navigation system available on the RTL; it's equipped with voice recognition and Bluetooth and can display reception details of the available XM Satellite Radio. In addition, there are dozens of available dealer-installed accessories.Under the Hood
The Ridgeline's 3.5-liter V6 is plenty strong, making 250 horsepower and giving the Ridgeline good off-the-line acceleration, ample cruising power and surprisingly good fuel economy. The engine can be loud at full-throttle, but not annoyingly so, and, typically for a Honda V6, it's also quite smooth. Honda is legendary for its durable engines and the 3.5-liter unit in the Ridgeline is no exception.
250 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20
The Ridgeline is offered in three trim levels: RT, RTS and top-of-the-line RTL. The RT has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $29,000, while the RTS pushes the price to around $31,500 and the luxurious RTL with navigation tops out close to $37,000. Before you set out shopping for your new Ridgeline, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area are paying for their trucks. As with all Honda products, the Ridgeline is expected to retain excellent resale value, better than the Ford Explorer Sport Trac and on par with the Nissan Frontier King Cab and Toyota Tacoma Double Cab.