By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/25/2011
It is to Honda's credit that, when the decision was made to enter the truck market in the U.S., they began with a clean sheet of paper, and subsequently came up with a clean sheet approach. The Ridgeline is wholly unique in the U.S. pickup segment, and has more in common (at least conceptually) with car-based El Caminos and Rancheros of the past than body-on-frame Silverados and F-150s of today. Its unit body, all-independent suspension, transversely mounted V6 engine and in-bed trunk all run counter to typical U.S. truck spec, yet its load and towing capabilities are perfect for weekend warriors and - more relevantly - those that own Honda's own motorcycles and ATVs.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for an open bed to occasionally haul stuff, but don't require significant towing capability (or the perceived baggage that comes with driving a pickup), the Ridgeline is - at this point - the only game in town. Its accommodation, comfort and on-road composure are first-rate, and its all-season capability works in both Yakima (WA) and Yuma (AZ).
If you need a pickup to be a TRUCK, with hauling and towing capabilities appropriate to that descriptive, the 2011 Honda Ridgeline may not fully meet your needs. And while its 4WD system is standard - and capable of sending up to 70 percent of available power to the rear wheels - it does not offer a low range; for boulder hopping you'll need to go elsewhere.What's Significant About This Car?
Still fresh from its redesign in 2009, the 2011 Honda Ridgeline carries on with no major changes. Of note, not even its press release was changed...Driving It Driving Impressions
With its unit body, reinforced frame and an all-independent suspension, the operative word for the Ridgeline's handling is solid. Curb weight is 4,500 pounds, and while Honda's 3.5-liter engine is reasonably efficient, an EPA rating of 15/20 is some 15 percent beneath that of Ford's new F-Series V6. It is - in short - not a relaxed power delivery, and that comes through in more over-the-road mechanical intrusiveness. The unit construction and all-independent suspension do contribute to a more car-like feel when compared to conventional trucks, but in the Ridgeline it's a "big car" feel - the biggest of any American-spec Honda.Favorite Features
Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) 4WD
For today's confident explorer, few things maintain that confidence better than 4WD. And despite its lack of a low range, VTM-4 does an admirable job of navigating the logging trail, winter snow or seasonal downpour. And in diverting up to 70 percent of available power to the rear wheels, power goes exactly where it should go when towing a trailer.
If more trucks offered independent rear suspension (rather than a live axle), we'd hope more trucks would offer an in-bed trunk. It's an absolutely great idea that expands the utility of the Ridgeline almost exponentially. You have miscellaneous gear? Put it back there! (Noisy children riding with you? Put 'em back there!)